Junior Gabe Siler stepped up with one of his best games on Thursday in leading the St. Croix Central boys’ basketball team in a game at Osceola. Siler scored 23 points as the Panthers earned a 61-45 win over the Chieftains.

The win moved the Panthers into a tie for third place in the Middle Border Conference standings with Somerset. Both teams finished the week with 7-4 records.

The Panthers’ week isn’t done. They hop on a bus Saturday morning and head east to play a non-conference game at Stanley-Boyd at 2:30 p.m.

Siler did it all in Thursday’s win for the Panthers. His 23 points led the team. So did his eight assists, five rebounds and five steals.

“Gabe played very well, especially in the second half,” said Central coach Randy Jordan.

Osceola gave one of its best showings of the season in battling the Panthers. The Panthers pressed and were able to build a quick 10-point lead. But Osceola began to solve the press and got the margin down to two points. At halftime, Central led 27-20.

The second half followed a similar pattern. The Panthers played well at the start, only to see the Chieftains rally to again make the margin two points. In the final minutes, the Panthers were finally able to extend their lead.

Jordan said the Panthers struggled with their shooting.

“We go as we shoot. Our offense affected our defense. We gave up some easy baskets,” Jordan said, saying the Panthers need to break this pattern and play with the same defensive intensity at all times.

Jackson Pettit was the only other Panther to score in double digits, finishing with 11 points.