Tiger boys basketball now stands alone at the top of MBCThree teams were tied with undefeated records at the top of the Middle Border Conference standings when last week began.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Three teams were tied with undefeated records at the top of the Middle Border Conference standings when last week began.
When the week was over, New Richmond stood alone at the top of the conference standings.
The Tigers are now 4-0 in MBC play and 9-0 overall after wins against Prescott and Ellsworth last week.
The Tigers began last week ranked fourth in Division 2 in the wissports.net-WBCA Coaches Poll.
Prescott gave the Tigers a thorough battle last Tuesday. The Tigers had only a five-point lead with 1:17 left. They hit five free throws in the last 44 seconds to complete a 60-52 win.
Friday’s game wasn’t a contest for long. Ellsworth led 7-5, before the Tigers went on a 9-0 run to end the first quarter. The Tigers built the lead to 36-16 at halftime and the defense made sure that stood up. The Tigers won 51-33 to deliver Ellsworth’s first conference loss.
The Tigers went into Friday’s game with several question marks. Starters Riley Kannel, Cody Taubman and Justice Harvieux went into the game with nagging injuries and Dalton Sabby missed most of the week due to illness.
“We really limped into the game,” said Tiger coach Rick Montreal.
There wasn’t any limping once the Tigers took the court. They made a few key defensive adjustments in the first quarter and Ellsworth’s offense was a non-factor the rest of the game.
“It was one of our best defensive games,” Montreal said. “They are talented offensively.”
Ellsworth pressed the entire game and the Tigers abused that defense in the second quarter. The Tigers practice a 4-on-3 drill for these situations and it led to a 22-point second quarter.
Kannel led the Tigers with 15 points. Sabby and Kyle Miller each scored eight points. Taubman led the team with eight rebounds and Miller contributed five rebounds to the cause.
The difference between the two games last week was the Tigers’ defensive success. On the road the Tiger defense has been superb, giving up 31.6 points per game. In their four games on their new home court, the Tigers are allowing nearly 52 points per game.
That partly may be to the quality of competition the Tigers have played at home. You can include Prescott in that group. Two nights after losing to the Tigers, Prescott went to Baldwin-Woodville and knocked off the Blackhawks 69-58.
Montreal said he didn’t think the Tigers were at their sharpest against Prescott, coming off a two-week span between games. This was the first game this season the Tigers had more turnovers than assists.
The Tigers didn’t get any breathing room against Prescott until the final minutes of the first half. Miller hit a pair of three-pointers that stretched the lead from two to eight points. Prescott never got closer than four points after that.
Miller was in the starting lineup for the first time against Prescott, with Sabby sidelined.
Kannel was the Tigers’ leading scorer with 22 points and Darren O’Flanagan finished with 13 points. Taubman led the team with seven rebounds, followed by Kannel with six. O’Flanagan continued to be a threat as a defender, recording five steals.
The Tigers continue their conference schedule this Friday with a game at Amery. The Tigers will face the MBC team with the tallest post players next Tuesday, when the Osceola Chieftains visit NRHS.