New Richmond boys basketball team finding an identityThrough the 2012 portion of its season, the New Richmond boys basketball team seemed to struggle to find an identity. Over the holiday break, the Tigers may have found one.
Through the 2012 portion of its season, the New Richmond boys basketball team seemed to struggle to find an identity.
Over the holiday break, the Tigers may have found one.
The Tigers opened 2013 with a pair of victories, with gritty defense and unselfish play being constants in both games. The Tigers went to Amery last Friday and scored a 46-35 win over the Warriors. That was followed by a 41-32 homecourt win over Hayward in a non-conference game on Monday.
There was a stark difference in the Tigers’ play compared to recent games. The Tigers were aggressive on defense, forcing turnovers and throwing off the rhythm of the opposing offenses. The holiday break was spent completely breaking down all facets of the team’s defense and restructuring the team’s approach.
“It was a blessing to not have any games over the break,” said Tiger coach Rick Montreal. “It was gratifying for the kids to see results so quickly.”
Becoming more balanced in all facets of the game is the new approach for the Tigers. It showed in their rebounding at Amery, with all of the Tigers hitting the boards hard. Senior Zac Parfitt led the team with six rebounds and four others each hauled down five rebounds. That led to the Tigers finishing with a season-high 30 rebounds.
More balance is being sought on offense too. Montreal said he didn’t want senior Joe Deppe to feel like he had to score 25 points every game to carry the offense. Deppe scored 14 points at Amery and Joey Miller finished with 11 points. Isaiah Hobbs went on a hot streak in the third quarter, scoring all eight of his points within a four-minute span.
The Tigers were able to win comfortably at Amery, even though their outside shooting was ice cold. The Tigers didn’t hit a three-pointer during the game and they probably didn’t hit a shot from beyond 10 feet. The team recognized early that their shots weren’t falling, so they moved the ball well to set up close-range shots. Deppe and Jake LaMirande both had four assists.
The Tigers took the lead on a runner in the lane by Miller in the final seconds of the first quarter and Amery never led again.
Defense was a big part of both wins. Amery tried to get the ball into its post players on every offensive possession. The Tigers were up to the challenge, playing stout post defense that was led by LaMirande and Parfitt.
The Tigers struggled on offense in the first half, trailing 17-15 at the break. It was defense, in the form of a 1-3-1 trap, which turned the game in the Tigers’ favor. The Tigers finished with a season-high 12 steals, most of them coming in the third quarter. Miller was the main tormentor against Hayward, stealing the ball five times. On most of the turnovers Miller led the Tigers in transition, pumping some vitality into the offense.
Against Hayward, it was Parfitt who stepped up to take the offensive lead. Parfitt finished with a team-high 13 points, getting 11 of them in the second half. Parfitt nailed a pair of three-pointers from the deep corner at the start of the fourth quarter.
LaMirande hit a pair of hoops in the final minutes on power moves to the hoop after Hayward had shaved the Tiger lead to 34-32.
The bench played a key role in both these wins. Parfitt led that effort, but Josh Geigle, Caleb Manecke, Noah Berger and Dustin Reed were also productive in their reserve roles.
“Zac has been a nice surprise, finding out he can play defense against all kinds of players,” Montreal said.
The win against Amery stopped a three-game losing streak for the Tigers in Middle Border Conference play. They will try for another MBC win this Thursday, when they play at Prescott. That will be followed by a pair of home games. The Tigers will host Big Rivers Conference leader Rice Lake in a non-conference game at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Next Tuesday, the Tigers get a visit from the Osceola Chieftains.