Two rapidly improving teams met Tuesday when the Somerset girls hosted St. Croix Central in a Middle Border Conference basketball clash.

Somerset was able to finish with a 66-55 victory. The win moves Somerset to 6-6 in conference play and 8-10 overall. Central is now 1-11 in the MBC and 1-19 overall.

The game was played at a fast pace with both teams being productive on offense. Both teams produced their highest point total of the season in the game.

The first half of the game featured several wild scoring charges. Somerset opened the game with an 11-2 burst. Central answered right back, building a nine-point lead of its own. The scoring then began to balance out and at halftime Somerset led, 33-30.

Somerset built a 39-32 lead early in the second half, but the Panthers kept battling back. Central cut the lead to 45-43 midway through the second half, but Somerset junior Dani Schachtner led the Spartans as they pulled away in the final minutes.

Somerset’s game plan was built around its height advantage, starting with Schachtner and Heather Gaikowski. Schachtner produced her second straight triple-double. She scored 24 points and she also reached double figures in rebounds and blocked shots.

Somerset coach Cory Lindenberg said Schachtner is just as important to the Spartans’ defense as she is to the offense.

“The communication she brings to the defensive end is important. She gets people organized,” he said.

After Central made its charge in the first half, it was junior Taylor Paulson who drew the Spartans back. She scored 14 of her 18 points in the first half, including sinking four 3-pointers. Rachel Gaikowski also hit two threes in the first half at critical times.

Lindenberg said the progress made by Central this season is a topic at most recent conference games.

“Central gave us a pretty good shot,” Lindenberg said.

Central had several players make key contributions. Maddie Anderson hit three 3-pointers in the first half. Central coach Riley Walz said the Panthers’ game plan was to draw Schachtner out of the paint. Schachtner was assigned to Anderson early. Her shooting and the vacated paint helped the Panthers build their lead. Lindenberg countered by having Schachtner stay in the paint in the second half.

Morgan Siler led the Panthers with 12 points. Anderson and Sydney Burgess both scored nine points and Kolbi Juen finished with eight points.

Walz said Somerset’s rebounding advantage, particularly from Schachtner, was one of the main differences in the game. Schachtner also drew several of the Panthers into foul trouble, further depleting the Panthers’ shortened bench.

Somerset will be in action Thursday and Friday. The Spartans play at Grantsburg Thursday before hosting Amery on Friday. Central’s next action is Friday when the Panthers host Baldwin-Woodville.