Friday sports: SCC hoops gets sweep, Tiger skaters finish strong
Friday was a big night for the St. Croix Central basketball programs, with the boys and girls teams both recording impressive wins.
The New Richmond and Somerset girls basketball teams both played extremely close games, but came out on the losing side in Friday’s action. The New Richmond and Somerset boys hockey teams both played teams from the La Crosse area, but with vastly different results. New Richmond beat West Salem, but Somerset lost to a co-op team based at La Crosse Aquinas.
St. Croix Central girls
This was the team the Central girls were planning to have before the knee injury that robbed Claire Frankiewicz of most of her senior season. Frankiewicz is back and she was a presence as Central defeated Ellsworth 44-28 in Hammond on Friday.
Frankiewicz scored eight points on Friday, but she made all the girls around her better. Kolbi Juen led the Panthers with 13 points while Morgan Siler and Catherine Cottrell both finished with nine points.
Cottrell was thrown into a pressurized situation when Frankiewicz was hurt as the only varsity ready girl with height. Cottrell and her teammates have grown and are now playing quite capably. Cottrell said Frankiewicz’s injury was a shock to the team.
“We’ve been so used to her being a vital player, but we’ve stepped up pretty well,” Cottrell said. She said the season started with a blank slate, with no starters returning. She said the girls set out “to form an identity, especially with a whole new coaching staff. We’ve been much improved. Our defense is our biggest component.”
While it took some time for the offense to get firing, Central’s defense was flawless start to finish. So when Central struggled offensively and scored 17 points in the first half, it was still a positive result because the potent Central defense limited Ellsworth to seven points in the half. And that’s not the season’s best defensive performance for the Panthers either. Central limited Baldwin-Woodville to four points in the first half when they met for the first time this season.
Cottrell and Frankiewicz together helped Central to have a huge rebounding edge in Friday’s game. Cottrell said there’s a comfort level playing next to her classmate.
“We grew up playing together and we’re all close friends. That teamwork stems from that too,” Cottrell said.
Central coach Ty Ketz said the win was crucial for his team, with the WIAA regional seeding meeting scheduled for Saturday morning. Ketz said he hoped this win would get Central the eighth seed in the regional bracket.
Ketz said the key for the Panthers to be successful on offense is getting ball touches in the paint. He said the team started doing this well, then got away from it late in the first half. In the second half, Siler and Juen made numerous drives to the paint, and there were a number of entry passes to Cottrell and Frankiewicz to put more pressure on the Ellsworth defense.
St. Croix Central boys
Central’s boys went to Durand on Friday and pulled out a 61-60 non-conference victory.
Durand is a notoriously tough venue for visiting teams. Durand is currently third in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings.
For Central, this was a big win leading into the next two weeks, when the team has three games scheduled each week. Central coach Zach Turpin said the game was a seesaw battle right to the end. He credited his team with handling the pressure of the final minutes well, when Durand several times had the lead.
Central needed to be sharp offensively, because Durand drained half of its 20 3-point attempts. Central answered by getting 26 points from Peyton Nogal and 16 points from Kelson Klin. Turpin credited Klin for being patient in the paint, waiting for the right scoring opportunities.
It was defense and rebounding that were the factors that swung the game Central’s way. Turpin said Central had a double-digit rebounding advantage. He said Austin Kopacz led the defensive effort, shutting down a player who was five inches taller than him. Kopacz also led the Panthers with six assists, with Gabe Siler providing four more.
Central plays another non-conference game on Monday, when it hosts St. Croix Falls.
New Richmond girls basketball
The Tigers dug too deep a hole, but they almost pulled out a tremendous comeback at Prescott on Friday. The Tigers trailed by 12 points with three minutes remaining, but got within four points before Prescott finished off a 52-48 win. This keeps Prescott tied with Amery at the top of the Middle Border Conference standings.
With three minutes left, the Tigers elected to continually send Prescott to the free throw line. The tactic worked, with Prescott missing eight straight free throws in the final minutes. That gave the Tigers time to make a move. Jessica Hagman was held scoreless until the late minutes, but she made three 3-pointers to fuel the comeback.
Tiger coach Chad Eggert viewed the comeback as a sign of maturity from the Tigers.
“We could have laid down and lost by 16 or 18. Chalk this up as a learning experience,” he said.
Three Tigers scored in double figures. Barb Kling led the team with 14 points, with Audrey Feuerer scoring 11 and Leah DeYoung 10. Eggert said Kling is starting to emerge as an elite playmaker.
“You can see her confidence coming. She’s realizing how good she is,” Eggert said.
The Tigers start next week with a pair of home games. They host Osceola in a makeup game on Monday and then host Menomonie in a non-conference game on Tuesday.
Somerset girls basketball
The most anguishing loss of the night would go to the Somerset girls in a 49-46 loss to Baldwin-Woodville on the Spartans’ Senior Night.
Somerset led by more than 20 points in the first half and took a 32-15 lead in at halftime. In the second half, the Hawks shut down Somerset’s offense, as the Spartans were outscored 34-14 in the half.
“We came out hot, played great defense and took a big lead,” Somerset coach Cory Lindenberg explained. “It was just the opposite in the second half.”
Lindenberg said B-W focused its defensive pressure in the second half on Spartan senior Georgia Hammer, forcing the other Spartans to do the scoring.
The Spartans still had chances in the final minutes. Four missed free throws and a few other late misses finished the Spartans.
Sophomore Dani Schachtner led the Spartans with 13 points. Lindenberg said she also played an excellent defensive game. Hammer finished with 12 points and Rachel Gaikowski scored nine points.
The next game for the Spartans is slated for Monday when they host Glenwood City in a non-conference game.
New Richmond boys hockey
The start wasn’t the best for the Tigers in their opening round game against West Salem at the Wisconsin Rapids tournament, but the rest of the game was something the Tigers can certainly build upon. The Tigers won the game 4-1, meaning they’ll face Wisconsin Rapids at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in the second round of the tournament. That game will conclude the regular season for the Tigers. They will open WIAA tournament action on Valentine’s Day, hosting River Falls at 7 p.m. at the New Richmond Sports Center.
Senior Hayden Bradbury led the Tigers with two goals in Friday’s win, giving him 25 goals for the season. Taeus Drill and Tucker Erickson both scored once.
“Our compete level in the second and third (periods) was great,” said New Richmond coach Zach Kier. “We were able to roll three lines. Our third line with Drill, (Evan) Iverson and Zach Cunningham was great today.”
Somerset boys hockey
The Spartans fell under a late avalanche on Friday night. Somerset trailed the Aquinas/Holmen Avalanche 3-1 after two periods. The Avs then scored four unmatched goals in the third period to defeat Somerset 7-1.
Freshman Antonio Gomez remained on a hot scoring streak for Somerset. He scored the team’s only goal, scoring with 33 seconds remaining in the second period.
The loss moves Somerset’s record to 8-14-1 for the season. This was the final regular season game for the Spartans. The Spartans open WIAA tournament play on Tuesday when they host the Grantsburg cooperative team. Somerset is the seventh seed in the section and Grantsburg is seeded tenth.