An MBC first: New Richmond boys basketball wins fifth straight conference titleThe New Richmond boys have become the first Middle Border Conference team to win conference boys basketball championships in five straight seasons.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The New Richmond boys have become the first Middle Border Conference team to win conference boys basketball championships in five straight seasons.
The Tigers completed that feat on Thursday with a 50-29 win over Osceola.
New Richmond finishes tied with Baldwin-Woodville for the 2011-12 MBC championship. Both teams finish with 11-3 records. B-W locked up its share of the title with a 46-36 win over Ellsworth on Thursday.
New Richmond went relatively unchallenged by the young Osceola team on Thursday. Dalton Sabby and Joe Deppe each scored 12 points to lead the Tigers, with Eli Kelley scoring 10 points.
The historic win came on Senior Night, making it even more meaningful for the eight seniors on the 2011-12 Tiger roster. Seniors Ryan Keehr, Joe Belter, Patrick Holland and Tate Ziebol were given the chance to start along with Sabby in their final regular season home game. All eight seniors received extensive playing time during their night.
Tiger coach Rick Montreal said Senior Night has become one of the biggest nights of the season for his players as the team gets a chance to recognize its veteran players. Between it being Senior Night and having the chance to win the fifth title, Montreal had little doubt that the Tigers would be charged up for Thursday’s game.
New Richmond was only able to build a 13-10 lead by the end of the first quarter. A couple Tiger defensive breakdowns left Osceola’s Andrew Salewski open on the perimeter and he sank a pair of three-pointers.
After the first period, the Tiger defense was totally in control of the game. The Tigers led 21-12 at halftime and the lead was built to 41-23 by the end of the third quarter. Reserves played most of the third quarter.
The exuberance of the Tigers toward their seniors was shown in the fact that the biggest excitement from the team came on a pair of scores by Tiger reserves. Belter banked in a shot for the opening points of the game, setting off a rousing wave of cheers through the game. Holland knocked down a three-pointer late in the game and you would have sworn it was a game-winning shot from the way the Tiger bench erupted.
Sabby showed against Osceola why he is considered one of the most complete players in the conference. He produced 12 points, eight steals, eight rebounds and four assists, all of which led the Tigers. Sabby and Alec Knox hounded Osceola’s guards all night. The Tiger interior defense, led by Eli Kelley, was able to limit 6-6 Osceola center Lincoln Howard to four points.
The Tigers have not been the most consistent team this season, but they’ve saved their best efforts for the conference games.
“They got so singularly focused on winning the conference, it might have hurt us in other games, but it is impressive to reach that goal,” Montreal said of the five championships.
The trouble outside the MBC flared up last Tuesday, when the Tigers lost at Eau Claire North, 58-52. This ended a 20-game losing streak for the Huskies, but they followed it up with a win over Eau Claire Memorial two nights later.
Defense was the damaging issue for the Tigers at North. The Tigers weren’t putting heavy pressure on the Huskies and North was able to do largely what it wanted on offense.
“Our offensive numbers should have been good enough to win,” Montreal said.
North got out to a fast start against the Tigers, but by halftime the Tigers had cut the Huskies’ lead to 24-23. The Tigers had one of their roughest defensive quarters of the season in the third quarter, giving up 24 points.
Trailing by 10 points, the Tigers pulled their offense game together in the fourth quarter. They tied the score twice, the final time at 52-52. The Huskies then scored the final six points of the game.
Kelley led the Tigers with 13 points and five rebounds against North. The Tigers had four players score in double figures, with Sabby getting 12, Deppe 11 and Knox 10.
The Tigers suffered a significant injury at North. Junior guard Joey Miller took an elbow to the face early in the game. The defensive dynamo continued to play the rest of the game. It was discovered the next day that he suffered a broken bone in his sinus area, causing severe swelling in his cheekbone area. He is likely done for the season.
The Tigers were scheduled to begin WIAA Division 2 tournament action on Tuesday against Ashland. The winner of Tuesday’s game is scheduled to play at Holmen at 7 p.m. on Friday. The winner of Friday’s game will play again on Saturday in the regional championship game.