Tigers show they can compete with top teams
Facing two opponents with a combined 17-3 record, the New Richmond boys basketball team showed last week it can compete with teams at the upper level of area ball.
Last Tuesday the Tigers lost to Barron 41-36. Barron brought a 7-2 record into the game. On Thursday the Tigers faced Middle Border Conference leader Amery. The lead fluctuated between 3-8 points for most of the second half, but Amery managed to pull out a 49-39win.
The Tigers were able to cut Amery's lead to 43-38 with 2:11 left in the game after a steal and layup by senior guard Scott Emerson, who was playing in his first game of the season.
Amery then hit the front end of two bonus free throw situations. Tiger senior Dan Bethke was fouled with 34 seconds left, cutting the margin to 45-39. Amery then added two free throws and a hoop in the final 23 seconds.
Coach John Elkin said he thought Thursday's performance might have been the best of the season by the Tigers. He pointed to the team's defense, which excelled at taking away both the inside and outside dimensions of Amery's offense, as the main reason.
Leading the Tigers was the fierce play of senior Jeff Engel. Engel scored seven of the Tigers' nine points in the third quarter, along with hauling down a handful of rebounds during the quarter.
"He was an absolute warrior in there," Elkin said of his 6-0 post player. "He was just a horse, he works so hard in there."
Having Emerson available changed the Tigers' approach. Instead of being a team that could easily be pressed, Emerson makes ball handling one of the Tigers' strengths. But there also will be an adjustment period for Emerson and his teammates. No player in the conference throws harder passes, or passes from more unexpected locations, than Emerson does. He had eight turnovers in this game, several that were passes that his teammates couldn't handle.
"He was excited, his passing will improve," Elkin said. "The kids will get more used to his passing and they'll get their hands ready. He looks to get the ball into the post more than our other perimeter players.
Engel led the Tigers with 15 points against Amery and Emerson scored 11 points. Engel also led the team with nine rebounds. Emerson led the team with three steals and Garret Fletch led the team with four assists.
Elkin said the team needs to refine two areas so it can start overtaking some of the teams they've been playing closely. He said handling the press is the obvious area. The second area is the transition to the set offense after breaking the press, which is an area where a high percentage of the Tigers' turnovers have arrived.
Against Barron neither offense could get much going in the first half, with Barron taking a 12-11 lead at halftime. Elkin warned his players that Barron would be more efficient on offense in the second half, and the Tigers would have to match that efficiency. The Tigers did match it for most of the half, but they couldn't get the lead away from the Golden Bears.
Creating free throws was one of the main differences in this game. Barron shot 22 free throws in the game, compared to four shot by the Tigers.
Scott Meyer led the Tigers with 13 points against Barron. Stovall and Erik Anderson each hauled down six rebounds to lead the team. Kyle Steen's five blocked shots led the team, as did Brock Peterson's three assists.
The Tigers resume their MBC schedule this Friday, with a home game against Prescott.
Amery 49, New Richmond 39
Wold 2 2-2 7, Hegg 1 0-0 2, Pederson 1 0-0 3, Badman 1 0-0 2, J.Meyer 2 0-2 5, Paulson 8 2-4 19, Van Someren 2 3-5 7, Schiell 2 0-5 4. Totals 19 7-18 49.
NEW RICHMOND (39)
Engel 6 3-3 15, Emerson 3 5-6 11, Fletch 0 0-0 0, E.Anderson 0 0-0 0, Bethke 0 1-2 1, Brennan 0 0-0 0, S.Meyer 0 0-0 0, Peterson 0 0-0 0, Stovall 3 0-2 6, Steen 3 0-0 6. Totals 15 9-13 39.
Amery 12 14 8 15 49
New Richmond 6 12 9 10 39
Three-point goals -- Wold, Pederson, J.Meyer, Paulson. Fouled out -- none. Total fouls -- Amery 12, New Richmond 18.
Barron 41, New Richmond 36
Hallberg 1 5-6 7, Lentz 1 3-4 5, Mau 4 1-2 11, Diedrich 3 1-2 7, Williams 2 7-8 11. Totals 11 17-22 41.
NEW RICHMOND (36)
Engel 1 0-0 2, Fletch 0 0-0 0, E.Anderson 1 1-2 3, Bethke 0 0-0 0, Brennan 0 0-0 0, Meyer 4 2-2 13, Peterson 2 0-0 4, Stovall 3 0-0 6, Steen 4 0-0 8. Totals 15 3-4 36.
Barron 6 6 15 14 41
New Richmond 5 6 11 11 36
Three-point goals -- Mau 2, Meyer 3. Fouled out -- none. Total fouls -- Barron 11, New Richmond 14.