Nobody saw it coming.
Least of all, the St. Croix Central boys basketball team. The Panthers led at halftime, 45-39, in their Middle Border Conference game at Ellsworth last Thursday, Jan. 25.
What happened in the second half left Central shellshocked. Ellsworth's trio of superlative scorers all went red hot in the second half, while all of Central shooters went arctic-like cold snap. It resulted in Ellsworth outscoring Central 43-19 in the second half. Ellsworth finished with a final score of 82-59 in the game that was the battle for second place in the MBC standings.
Ellsworth's trio of Drake Flom, Alex Motley and Logan Benson generated 73 points between them.
"They played well and we couldn't hit anything," Central coach Zach Turpin said of Ellsworth's scalding second half.
The numbers back that up. After scoring 45 points in the first half, the Panthers went 5-34 shooting in the second half. Turpin said Ellsworth didn't make any major changes defensively at halftime, but once Ellsworth got momentum, Central's shooters couldn't match the success.
Turpin said he hoped this was a one-game anomaly for the Panther defense. The most points Central has allowed in any other game this season was 67 to Prescott.
Peyton Nogal led Central with 18 points, but all 18 came during the first half. No Central player scored more than four points during the second half.
The loss leaves Central in third place in the MBC with a 5-3 record. They play at Osceola this Friday, before hosting Barron in a non-conference game next Monday.
The Panthers will host New Richmond this Tuesday.