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St. Croix Central boys basketball grinds out pair of victories

Senior guard Brett Mousel hits a shot during the Panthers' recent battle with Durand.

When you are 20 games into a season, there are no surprises.

Opponents have you so well scouted, that they know every player and every scheme teams run. These are the games where it takes mental toughness to grind out wins. And that's what the St. Croix Central boys basketball team did in both of its Middle Border Conference games last week.

The Panthers raised their overall record to 14-7 and their MBC record to 8-5 with wins over Somerset and Amery last week. The Panthers won 65-52 against Somerset last Tuesday and 55-46 against Amery on Friday. The Panthers were scheduled to complete their regular season this Monday with a home game against Baldwin-Woodville.

On Friday, March 2, the Panthers will begin WIAA Division 3 regional tournament action. Seeding for the regional bracket was held on Saturday, with the Panthers receiving the fourth seed. By receiving the fourth seed, the Panthers get a bye in the opening round of regional action next Tuesday. On March 2, the Panthers will host the winner of Tuesday's game between Osceola (5) and Spooner (12). The winner of the March 2 game will play again in the regional final the following night, likely against top-seeded Prescott.

The Panthers wore down Somerset in last Tuesday's game. The score was 28-22 at halftime. The Panthers were able to throw so many athletes at Somerset that the Panthers kept the Spartans at a distance the rest of the way. Peyton Nogal led the Panthers with 22 points and Will Soderberg finished with nine points.

Friday's game against Amery featured two teams that are comfortable playing at a deliberate pace. The Panthers showed the patience and defensive skill to maintain a lead, after leading 21-15 at halftime. Nogal scored 20 points and Soderberg 10 points as Central's top scorers.

Central coach Zach Turpin said defense was key to the team's success in the week. He credited Austin Kopacz and Collin Nelson in leading the defensive effort. He said Justin Freyholtz and Nick Weber came off the bench to play important roles in Friday's win.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for more than 30 years.

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