It’s a new era for the St. Croix Central boys in the 2019-20 basketball program.

With a new coach and a new approach, the Panthers are looking to make the climb to the top levels of the Middle Border Conference.

Randy Jordan has been hired to lead the Panthers this season, with Roger Stippel as his top assistant coach. Jordan was hired last spring after long-time coach Zach Turpin was not rehired to the varsity position after leading the Panthers to a 15-10 record last season.

One of the changes you’ll see is a more streamlined Panther program. In past seasons, the Panthers often carried 12-15 players on the varsity team. Jordan was allowed to make preseason cuts, leaving more playing time for each of the boys who made the roster.

The Panthers began their new era Monday, when they hosted Elk Mound in a non-conference game. The Panthers will have a week to take what they learn from the first game. Their second game isn’t until Tuesday, Dec. 10, when the Panthers play at Baldwin-Woodville.

The coaches are still seeking solutions to who will get some of the playing time.

“Right now, I feel confident with seven (players),” Jordan said. “We’re looking for eighth and ninth guys.”

Jordan said he feels the Panthers will bring a talented starting five to the floor. The Panthers bring back talented players with experience, led by seniors Kelson Klin, Trevor Kopacz and Scott Mousel and juniors Gabe Siler and Jackson Pettit. Siler and Klin ranked second and third on the team last season in scoring average and it’s a group with the athletic ability to play at a pace that challenges opposing defenses. Jordan said he expects the scoring load to be balanced.

“We’re hoping to have three or four players in double figures every game,” he said.

Jordan foresees that athleticism helping the Panthers on defense, where he expects the team to put heavy pressure on opponents.