A double dose of redemption.
That's what the New Richmond girls basketball team accomplished with its 58-49 win over Baldwin-Woodville last Friday.
The win helps make up for an off-key performance three nights earlier. The Tigers were fresh off a win over Middle Border Conference leader Osceola, but they fell flat at Ellsworth, losing 48-43 to the seventh place team in the MBC.
Beating B-W also gives the Tigers some relief from the loss in their first meeting with the Blackhawks. That's the game where B-W scored eight points in the final 17 seconds of the game to pull off a stunning comeback against the Tigers.
The rivalry with B-W might be the strongest rivalry the Tiger girls have in the conference right now. That is partly due to B-W guard Melissa Johnson who is a cousin of Tiger guards Jessica Mitchell and Krista Mitchell.
Tiger coach Eric Russell said that with this being Jessica Mitchell's last game against B-W and the way the Tigers lost the last time against B-W, the girls had plenty of motivation for Friday's game.
They played like it too. The Tigers stunned B-W with a hounding defense. In the opening minutes of the game the Tiger press forced several turnovers and caused several B-W hurried shots that were off target. In the first five minutes of the game the Tigers outscored B-W 16-2.
The relentless defense has become the key to the Tigers' success. When the team plays with that high a defensive intensity, the same intensity level carries to the offense. In the first quarter the Tigers had outstanding ball movement on offense. Laura Measner and Kelli Emerson each scored eight points in the first quarter as the Tigers rolled to a 22-6 lead.
B-W then tried to make a comeback, cutting the lead to 10. The Tigers responded with another surge, pulling ahead 34-15. At halftime the score stood at 36-19.
Because the Tigers were on the verge of foul trouble, Russell pulled back the defensive pressure in the third quarter. The Tigers went back to the full-court pressure in the fourth quarter, but B-W had picked up some momentum by then. It wasn't until there was 1:23 left in the game that the Blackhawks got the lead into single figures. But with the way B-W came back in the first meeting this season, the Tigers didn't rest easy until Shannon Timm's two free throws with :01 on the clock made the final score 58-49.
The Tiger starting forwards, Timm and Nicole Borgen, played pivotal roles that didn't show up in the scoring column. Timm was in charge of guarding B-W leading scorer Julia Monicken. Timm held Monicken to eight points in the game, including one point in the first half.
Borgen was the front person on the Tiger press, so she was one of the keys in trapping the B-W girl who received the inbounds pass. Borgen and Timm also led the Tigers in rebounding, Borgen grabbing nine and Timm seven.
Jessica Mitchell and Emerson led the Tigers with five steals each. Leading the team in assists was Emerson with four, and the Mitchell sisters each had three. Measner blocked four B-W shots.
One area where the Tigers struggled was stopping B-W sophomore center Jamie Speer. She had 15 rebounds in the game and 14 points.
B-W had its chances to be more of a factor in this game, but the Blackhawks' free throw shooting was atrocious for most of the game. The Blackhawks hit several free throws in the fourth quarter, raising their final results to 13-32 from the line.
This win moves the Tigers into a tie with B-W for third place in the MBC standings at 7-4.
A stunning dropoff
After playing the best basketball in the MBC for most of the past month, the Tigers didn't see the dropoff they hit at Ellsworth. Because of a snow day last Monday the Tigers didn't practice the day before the game. Russell said that not having a practice the four days before the game was reflected in the Tigers' sluggish play.
After a woeful first quarter the Tigers did come back to take a lead in the second quarter and they stayed close in the third quarter. But Ellsworth was playing with more intensity and that showed through in the fourth quarter, when the Panthers pulled ahead in the 48-43 win.
"These girls are too nice and they need something to get fired up about," Russell said, "or they don't bring their A game."
One area where the Tigers struggled was rebounding. Ellsworth outrebounded the Tigers 56-39 in the game. That high number of total rebounds reflects the low shooting percentages both teams had in the game.
Emerson led the Tigers with 11 points and Measner scored 10 points in the loss. Emerson and Measner also led the team with seven rebounds.
The Tigers play at Amery this Thursday, the final game before the WIAA seeding meeting. Russell said it is feasible that the Tigers could be seeded anywhere from second to sixth in the regional.
Next Tuesday the Tigers will be playing a non-conference game, getting a visit from Elmwood of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.
New Richmond 58,
Newton 2 2-3 6, Geurkink 1 0-0 2, Johnson 6 3-7 17, Schumacher 1 0-2 2, Monicken 3 2-7 8, Speer 4 6-13 14. Totals 17 13-32 49.
NEW RICHMOND (58)
J.Mitchell 0 3-4 3, Emerson 7 2-3 18, Gjovik 0 0-0 0, K.Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Borgen 1 0-0 2, Measner 9 0-2 18, Thompson 1 1-2 3, Timm 1 6-10 8, Spinks 2 2-2 6. Totals 21 14-23 58.
Baldwin-Woodville 9 10 12 18 49
New Richmond 22 14 10 12 58
Three-point goals -- Johnson 2, Emerson 2. Fouled out -- Monicken. Total fouls -- Baldwin-Woodville 23, New Richmond 20.
Ellsworth 48, New Richmond 43
NEW RICHMOND (43)
J.Mitchell 2 2-2 6, Emerson 3 5-10 11, K.Mitchell 2 1-2 5, Borgen 2 2-2 6, Measner 5 0-0 10, Thompson 1 0-1 3, Timm 0 2-2 2, Spinks 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 12-19 43.
Schommer 4 1-4 11, Smith 2 0-0 4, Huggett 2 3-6 8, Kiefer 1 1-4 3, Radkey 1 0-6 2, Knutson 2 0-1 5, Konkol 5 5-8 15. Totals 17 10-29 48.
New Richmond 6 21 9 7 43
Ellsworth 9 15 9 15 48
Three-point goals -- Thompson, Schommer 2, Huggett, Knutson. Fouled out -- none. Total fouls -- New Richmond 21, Ellsworth 17.