Tigers bitten: Boys basketball team suffers first loss of seasonTwo days after climbing up to number two in the Division 2 boys basketball state rankings, the New Richmond boys basketball team was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Two days after climbing up to number two in the Division 2 boys basketball state rankings, the New Richmond boys basketball team was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten.
The Tigers lost at Baldwin-Woodville last Thursday, 64-49. B-W guard Ryan Benoy lit up the Tiger defense, scoring 34 points. Seven of the Tigers’ first 14 opponents were held to 34 points or less before the loss.
The Middle Border Conference race is suddenly much closer. The Tigers started this week with an 8-1 record, one game ahead of B-W. The Tigers were scheduled to play at Prescott, the third place MBC team, on Tuesday.
Thursday’s game at B-W didn’t start like it was going to be one-sided. The Tigers and Blackhawks played a high energy first quarter, which ended with the Tigers leading 18-16.
“We were pretty crisp on offense,” said Tiger coach Rick Montreal.
Montreal said he made a tactical mistake early in the second quarter, which allowed B-W to open up a lead in the second quarter.
Justice Harvieux and Darren O’Flanagan, who the coaches consider the team’s best perimeter defenders, both played the entire first quarter. Montreal rested them at the same time in the second quarter. That’s when Benoy caught fire, hitting three straight three-pointers. Benoy scored all 13 of the Blackhawks’ points in the second quarter. By halftime the Hawks had taken a 29-25 lead.
There was another change that happened during the second quarter that had an equally major impact in the game. The Hawks switched to a zone defense in the second quarter. The Tiger offense never recovered fully. Montreal said the Tigers click offensively against man-to-man defenses, but don’t have the same success against zone approaches.
“We are not aggressive enough against zones. Our movement is too delayed,” Montreal said.
Early in the third quarter the Blackhawks led 31-30. A few minutes later, after a hot streak from Benoy and Josh Alme, the Blackhawks were up 46-30.
The Tigers were able to hit four three-pointers in the fourth quarter, but were never able to cut into the Blackhawks’ lead.
Riley Kannel led the Tigers with 17 points, the 15th straight game where he’s led the team in scoring. O’Flanagan finished with 13 points and Harvieux scored 11 points. Kannel led the team with seven rebounds. Harvieux’s contributions included four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Montreal said this game was an indication that the Tigers need to push themselves harder. He plans to have more five-on-five practices between the starters and the second line.
“We’ve got to start improving instead of maintaining,” Montreal said.
The next MBC test for the Tigers comes on Friday when they play at home against Ellsworth. The Tigers play at home next Monday in an important non-conference game. River Falls will visit in a game that will pit the Tigers against the leaders of the Big Rivers Conference.