With limited practice, Century falls in section play
No. 4 Century had to miss a week of practice prior to the start of section play due to a COVID exposure. The rusty Panthers opened Section 1AAAA play on Wednesday with a 64-54 loss to No. 5 Northfield.
It wasn't a good time for Century to have to miss a week of practice.
The Panthers boys basketball team had an exposure to COVID during their final game of the regular season. As a result, Century had to quarantine leading up to section play and had to miss seven days of practice.
With limited time to prepare physically, fourth-seeded Century dropped a 64-54 Section 1AAAA quarterfinal game to No. 5 Northfield on Wednesday.
"It was frustrating," Century senior Noah Deedrick said. "The break, it definitely hurt us on the legs. But you could tell it on the shots because the threes just weren't falling in practice as much, and were like 4-for-18 (4-for-21 actually). We're usually a little bit higher than that."
The Panthers had just one day of physical practice to prepare for the section opener. During the previous week, the team had to meet through Zoom meetings and did get to watch some game film through those meetings.
"You need those days of (physical) practice," Century coach Jake Vetter said. "The guys did the best they could. They worked hard in practice (Tuesday), but it's different in a game than it is in practice."
Century had defeated Northfield twice during the regular season. The visiting Raiders (9-9) held a 27-24 halftime lead and Century seemed to wear down more in the second half when it shot just 10-for-31 from the floor.
"They were close games the first two times we played, and it's hard to beat a team three times in a season," Vetter said. "I'm just really proud of how our guys handled the whole season."
Century was within 48-44 with 6 minutes to play before hitting a cold stretch. The Raiders raced past Century for a couple of layups to build a 57-46 lead. Northfield then went 7-for-8 at the line in the final 1:20 to seal the victory.
Guard Karsten Clay led Northfield with 20 points and he was 6-for-6 at the line in the second half. Kip Schetnan added 13 points and he was 6-for-8 at the line in the final 18 minutes.
Deedrick led the Panthers with 19 points as he shot 7-for-14 from the floor. Jaecan Fratzke came off the bench to score 12 points.
But Northfield used an effective zone defense to bottle up the Century offense. Junior Jaden Wysocki, Century's leading scorer, was held to eight points. The Panthers also committed 18 turnovers, 10 in the first half.
"I don't think we were clicking on offense as much," Deedrick said. "Especially against that zone. It's hard because our guards like to attack and it's hard to attack that zone, unless you can hit a couple of threes and then it opens it up."
Century shot 10-for-20 in the first half but finished just 20-for-51 overall. The Panthers were 3-for-16 from 3-point range in the second half.
"They went to that zone and it was a struggle for us because our shot was off," Vetter said. "They had a nice game plan. They pressured us and they ran a 2-3 zone and we had a lack of preparation. That's why preparation is so important."
Northfield advances to play at No. 1 Lakeville South (12-6) on Saturday night in the section semifinals.
"That's a team that's better than their record," Deedrick said. "They have a lot of seniors and they're good. They'll probably give South a little bit of a jump."
Century finishes with a solid 12-6 record with five new starters this season. Century was also coming off a strong season a year ago, so Deedrick, who will play college ball at Northwestern, St. Paul, hopes the mood is set for a continued surge.
"It's frustrating because I'm a senior, I want to win," Deedrick said. "But it is what it is. I feel like this year I left a legacy and that's what's important, just the culture and now we have other leaders that are stepping up on the team. And I'm confident that they can be really good next year, too."
Northfield 64, Century 54
No. 5 NORTHFIELD (64)
Karsten Clay 20 P, 5 R, 2 3-PT; Luke Labenski 2 P, 4 R; Kip Schetnan 13 P, 4 R; Anders Larson 11 P; Tate Sand 6 P; Trey Schlaak 4 P, 1 3-PT; Tate Journell 3 P, 4 R, 1 3-PT; Soren Richardson 5 P.
No. 4 CENTURY (59)
Carter Poncelet 3 P; Jaecan Fratzke 12 P, 5 R, 2 3-PT; Jaden Wysocki 8 P, 5 R, 1 3-PT; Noah Deedrick 19 P, 4 R; Ryan Ohm 5 P, 5 R; Peter Lynch 7 P, 5 R; Jub Ogak 3 R.
Halftime: NFLD 27, CENT 24.
Free throws: NFLD 20-27, CENT 10-13. Field goals: NFLD 20-43, CENT 20-51.
Three-point goals: NFLD 4-15, CENT 4-21. Rebounds: NFLD 27, CENT 35. Turnovers: NFLD 10, CENT 18.