Tigers flash potential at Rice Lake
The best thing that could happen for the New Richmond boys basketball team was facing undefeated Rice Lake Monday night.
While the game wasn't as close as the final 84-78 score might indicate, it showed that the Tigers are making progress.
Rice Lake led by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter, before the Tigers made a charge in the final minutes.
"We played our best game so far," said Tiger coach John Elkin. "They know they can play with some pretty good teams all of the sudden."
The toughest thing for the Tigers was shutting down Rice Lake's Kellan Olson. Olson fired in 38 points, including 16 in the second quarter.
The 78 points is a huge step in the right direction for the Tigers, who'd had problems scoring in their first three games. All 12 Tiger players scored in the game. Senior Jeff Engel led the team with 15 points, Lee Stovall scored 14 points and Dan Bethke scored 12 points.
Point guard Brock Peterson had seven assists and the team totalled 23 assists. Engel led the team with six rebounds.
"Our guys played really hard right to the end," Engel said. "That's the first piece of the puzzle if you want to improve."
Rice Lake plays the game at an extremely high tempo at both ends of the court. The Tigers were able to play well at that tempo, though both teams ended the game with more than 20 turnovers.
Last Friday the Tigers played at Prescott, another team that looks to have the firepower to be a challenger in the Middle Border Conference this season. Again the Tigers started well, before losing 67-51.
The Tigers led 10-9 after a quarter at Prescott. In the second and third quarters Prescott was able to build a double-figure lead.
Engel led the Tigers with 16 points and Stovall scored 10 points. Engel also led the team with six rebounds. Scott Meyer and Garret Fletch each had five assists in the game.
Last Tuesday the Tigers made their home debut, losing to Durand 62-44. The Tigers led 10-8 midway through the first quarter, only to see Durand make a charge late in the quarter. By halftime the Panthers had built the lead to 27-17.
Durand was a big, physical team and that size difference caused the Tigers some problems. The Tigers were able to get some things done from the perimeter in the game. Tyler Brennan scored 13 points, Garret Fletch scored 10 and Meyer scored eight as the Tiger guards stepped up their scoring in the game.
Elkin continues to try different combinations of players looking for groups that work well together. He said Peterson and Zach Brinkman have earned more playing time with their ball handling and passing from the point guard position.
Engel is the most experienced inside player for the Tigers and he's shown he can also score from the 8-10 foot range. Stovall and sophomore Kyle Steen are smaller and aren't as physically mature as most of the post players they've been battling.
"Lee works his heart out," Elkin said. "Kyle's footwork is pretty good, he's just not strong enough yet to go against some of those guys."
The Tigers take aim at their first win this Thursday, when they play at home against Ellsworth. This is their final game until January.
Rice Lake 84, New Richmond 78
NEW RICHMOND (78)
Engel 7 1-1 15, Koop 1 2-2 5, Fletch 2 0-0 4, Bohl 1 0-0 2, Anderson 2 0-2 4, Bethke 5 1-3 12, Brennan 2 0-0 4, Brinkman 1 0-0 2, Meyer 3 0-0 7, Peterson 1 0-0 2, Stovall 6 2-2 14, Steen 3 1-2 7. Totals 34 7-12 78.
RICE LAKE (84)
Miller 2 0-0 5, Sirek 1 0-0 2, Willger 1 1-2 3, Asunto 1 0-0 2, Berndt 4 2-2 10, Stephens 4 0-0 10, Olson 13 7-7 38, Crotteau 2 1-1 5, Magee 1 1-1 3, Johnson 3 0-0 6. Totals 32 12-13 84.
New Richmond 14 20 16 28 78
Rice Lake 19 23 25 17 84
Three-point goals -- Koop, Bethke, Meyer, Miller, Stephens 2, Olson 5. Fouled out -- none. Total fouls -- New Richmond 14, Rice Lake 12.