New Richmond boys basketball needs one more win to add to string of MBC titlesOne more win.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
One more win.
That’s all the 2011-12 season boils down to for the New Richmond boys basketball team. The Tigers host Osceola this Thursday. If the Tigers win, they guarantee themselves a share of the Middle Border Conference title. This would be the fifth straight season where the Tigers finished as MBC champions.
Tiger coach Rick Montreal said the players, especially the seniors, have been on a season-long mission to continue the streak of conference championships. Thursday’s game will also be Senior Night, adding to the spotlight that will be shining on the Tigers’ veteran players.
“They really want that fifth one in a row. We’ll have to be focused and play well,” Montreal said.
The Tigers are coming off a week where their focus peaked. Then it plummeted.
The focus peaked at Amery last Tuesday, when the Tigers proved too athletic for the Warriors, winning 48-29. This avenged a loss to Amery in the opening round of conference play.
On Friday the Tigers played at Prescott. One of their best performances of the season had been in their opening round win over Prescott. The Tigers didn’t come anywhere near duplicating that effort at Prescott. The Cards jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first half and maintained a double-digit lead throughout their 57-43 win over the Tigers.
This loss dropped the Tigers into a tie with Baldwin-Woodville for the MBC leadership. B-W finishes its conference season at home this Thursday against Ellsworth.
The loss at Prescott on Friday left the Tiger coaches and fans stunned. The Tigers have been plagued by inconsistency this season, but the coaches were hoping the Tigers had gotten past such issues.
“It’s unexplainable,” Montreal said of the Tigers’ inability to sustain strong play from one game to the next. “We didn’t guard their shooters. We didn’t come out with the intensity we had the first time (the teams played).”
The Tigers fell behind 22-10 by the end of the first quarter and that margin grew to 34-14 midway through the second quarter. The coaches installed several reserves at that point to try resuscitating the moribund Tigers. The Tigers, led by seniors Ryan Keehr and Tate Ziebol, were able to finish the half with an 8-2 run that cut the lead to 36-22.
The teams played evenly in the second half, but that did little good for the Tigers, who could never cut the margin to single digits.
This will go down as one of the sloppier performances by the Tigers this season. The Tigers were able to create a number of turnovers in the second half, but they couldn’t capitalize. Often times, the Tigers turned the ball right back to Prescott. The 19 turnovers by the Tigers is one of their high marks for the season.
A good measure of the Tigers’ intensity in most games is their rebound total. That the Tigers could manage just 13 rebounds at Prescott speaks volumes about how the Tigers played.
Senior Dalton Sabby led the Tigers with 12 points at Prescott, but 10 of those points came in the fourth quarter.
The flop at Prescott caught the coaches by surprise because the boys had played well in their 48-29 win at Amery last Tuesday. This was an especially strong defensive showing by the Tigers, holding Amery in single digits for points in each of the four quarters. The Tigers were able to record 12 steals in the game.
One of the focal points for the Tigers was Amery guard Jake McLeod. In the first meeting, McLeod scored 18 points. This time, the Tigers held McLeod without a point.
The two teams were tied 9-9 after the first quarter. The Tigers upped the pace and they outscored the Warriors by nine points in each of the next two quarters.
Junior Joe Deppe sizzled in the first half of the game. By halftime he’d rolled up 14 points and he finished with a game-high 20 points. One of the reasons Deppe was getting open looks was the pinpoint passing of the Tiger post players. Eli Kelley and Jake LaMirande both had four assists in the game.
Non-conference losses to River Falls and Menomonie proved costly for the Tigers in the WIAA Division 2 sectional seeding done over the weekend. While the Tigers have better records than both those teams, the head-to-head losses knocked New Richmond back to the sixth seed in the sectional bracket.
As the sixth seed, the Tigers will play at home in the opening round of Division 2 regional action next Tuesday. Ashland will be the opponent in that game, which starts at 7 p.m. at the NRHS gym. The winner of that game will play at Holmen in the regional finals on Friday, March 2. Holmen is the third seed in the sectional tournament bracket.