HAMMOND, Wis. -- The St. Croix Central boys’ basketball team opened the postseason just like it ended the regular season by dominating its first two opponents in the Division 3 regionals last week.
The top-seeded Panthers routed No. 5 Unity, 69-30, in Friday night’s regional semifinal before taking care of No. 2 St. Croix Falls, 79-39 in Saturday’s regional final.
The seventh-ranked Panthers will take a 21-2 record and the top seed into the sectional round of the Division 3 playoffs, beginning with a semifinal game at home against No. 4 Neillsville (16-5) Thursday, Feb. 25. The winner will play either second-seeded Aquinas (14-5) or No. 3 Northwestern (18-7) for the sectional title Saturday, Feb. 27, at the home of the highest remaining seed.
Since losing just their second game of the season to Division 1 Hudson Jan. 26, the Panthers have won nine straight, including a win over Division 1 Chippewa Falls, by an average of 31.6 points. They’re averaging 75.3 points per game this year.
That trend continued in last week’s regionals, where the Panthers defeated Unity by 39 points Friday night and St. Croix Falls by 40 Saturday.
Colin Hackbarth led St. Croix Central Friday night with 23 points, six assists and four steals while Kelson Klin had 13 points and six boards. Jackson Pettit added 12 points and Gabe Siler had 11 points, eight assists and six steals. The Panthers led 44-17 at halftime.
Saturday night against second-seeded St. Croix Falls the score was 51-27 at the break as the Panthers wrapped up the regional title with a 79-39 victory.
Klin led a balanced Central attack with 19 points while grabbing seven rebounds and Pettit scored 16 points while Hackbarth had 11 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and Connor Nilssen finished with 10 points and five blocked shots. Carson Hinzman added nine points and nine rebounds and Siler contributed eight points, seven rebounds, eight assists and four steals.