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Brodhead falls to River Valley
Times photo: Adam Krebs Brodheads J.J. Panoske puts up a jump shot in the first half of Wednesdays game against River Valley at the Cuba City Classic. Panoske scored just three of his team-high 17 points in the first half as River Valley beat Brodhead 66-52.
CUBA CITY - Brodhead's boys basketball team has loads of potential. The hard part is putting it all together against good teams.

The Cardinals struggled Wednesday against River Valley, losing 66-52 in the opening round of the Cuba City Classic.

"We're still struggling to find ourselves as a team," said Brodhead coach Brian Kammerer. "We have to get things ironed out. We're still trying to find a true system."

River Valley (6-2) opened the season ranked ninth in the state by the Coaches Poll in Division 3 and boasts a scoring duo of Alex Richard (17.3 points per game) and Noah Baryenbruch (16.1 ppg). Against Brodhead, Baryenbruch, a flashy guard, connected on four 3-pointers and finished with 32 points and Richard added 24.

"It's tough when you're chasing two kids who combine for nearly 60 points. The score's not going to show it, but we had hands in their face and they were still scoring all over us," Kammerer said. "We talked about that in the locker room (after the game). It just wasn't meant to be tonight. Those two kids are great players and they have some other guys that stepped up, too."

The 56 combined points by the Blackhawks' top two scorers were more than Brodhead could muster up as an entire team.

"Our game plan was to go out and try to face-guard both of them, but they both came to play," Brodhead junior J.J. Panoske said. "I think they hit a lot more shots than they did (Tuesday) night (in a loss to Beaver Dam)."

River Valley, which never trailed in the contest, raced out to a 10-2 lead in the first behind two 3s from Baryenbruch and four free throws from Richard. By the end of the first quarter, the Cardinals found themselves behind 18-11.

Panoske, a 6-feet, 10-inch Wisconsin-Milwaukee recruit, pulled up lame in the closing seconds of the first while extending to steal a ball.

"I went out to steal a ball and my quad Charlie Horsed right into a kid's knee. It felt bad. I could feel my quad flex every time I went out," Panoske said

The Cardinals' deficit increased in the second to as much as 13 points and the Blackhawks led 34-23 at halftime. Brodhead's biggest problem - other than stopping Baryenbruch and Richard - was finding the hoop on offense.

Panoske had just three points in the first half and Carson Scheidegger carried much of the Cardinals' offense on his shoulders, scoring all eight of his points in the first half.

"I thought Brandon McKee and David Earleywine came in and did a nice job on defense. When you take away Michael's (Peterson, who had foul trouble early) long arms, it's tough," Kammerer said. "We have to believe in each other before we can have any success and that's the biggest key right now."

In the second half, Brodhead came out with a little extra pep to its step, much of which thanks to Panoske, who scored 17 points in the final two quarters and had six blocks total in the game. Panoske also connected on two 2s in the fourth quarter.

"With my quad hurting a little bit I feel I jacked up too many shots," Panoske said. "I think some of the shots I took were good except for a few of the threes. I did feel like I needed to score a little bit to get it going."

Brodhead went on a 12-4 run in the third quarter to bring the score back to within six points at 43-37, but River Valley responded.

Kammerer said that the spark came from Panoske getting the ball low in the post.

"We went on that run when J.J. stayed in the post. When he stays in the post, no one is going to stop him at 6-10. When he starts fading and starts shooting long shots then we have issues," Kammerer said. "Credit to River Valley. We knew it was going to be tough and that's why we got into this tournament. Hopefully it prepares us for the future."

Brodhead (3-4) will face off against Milwaukee Academy of Science (2-9) at 4:30 p.m. in the consolation game.

"We're learning a lot about ourselves as a team. We're not a real closely knit team, but we're getting closer as friends and as teammates. I think that will help us down the road," Panoske said.