New Richmond boys basketball learning to wn close gamesIf the New Richmond boys basketball team is going to climb back into contention for a Middle Border Conference title, the Tigers must be able to win close games.
If the New Richmond boys basketball team is going to climb back into contention for a Middle Border Conference title, the Tigers must be able to win close games. They got good experience in that last week, pulling out narrow wins over Osceola and Ellsworth.
Those two wins get the Tigers back to the .500 level in the MBC standings at 4-4, trailing MBC leaders Durand and Somerset by three games.
Tiger coach Rick Montreal said there have been several upsets in MBC games already this season and he thinks the Tigers are capable of pulling off more.
“It would be nice to see us do some surprising of our own and win out and win the conference title,” he said.
If the Tigers are going to pull off any upsets, they need to start now. They play at Durand this Thursday. They play at Baldwin-Woodville next Tuesday. Both of those teams knocked off the Tigers in the first half of the conference season.
Saying that the Tigers were able to win two close games last week is taking the “glass is half full” attitude. While the Tigers were able to put up impressive point totals, they couldn’t put away either of the teams that reside on the bottom rungs of the conference standings.
In last Tuesday’s 60-54 win over Osceola, the Tigers looked like they were going to bury the Chieftains in the first half. The Tigers led 37-24 at halftime, but they let Osceola creep back into the game in the second half.
New Richmond senior Joe Deppe was unstoppable in the first half of Tuesday’s game. He scored 13 of the Tigers’ 16 points in the first quarter and he scored nine more points in the second quarter. That included a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer. Deppe finished the game with 31 points.
Osceola made a comeback in the fourth quarter behind Trevor Carlson, who scored eight of his 16 points in the final quarter. Osceola’s Tyler Maxon hit a three-pointer to cut the Tiger lead to 54-52.
New Richmond senior Jake LaMirande stepped up in the final minutes. LaMirande hit two big shots, including one after rebounding a missed free throw with seven seconds left in the game. LaMirande finished the game with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“That was a good growing point for us,” Montreal said.
Friday’s game followed a similar pattern. The Tigers led throughout the first half and had chances to pull away, but Ellsworth held on until the final moments, when the Tigers won 59-56.
Ellsworth’s Alec Campbell did a marvelous defensive job on Deppe in the first half Friday, holding him scoreless. That meant other Tigers needed to step up. LaMirande and Isaiah Hobbs both scored eight points in the first half and Noah Berger came off the bench to score six points. Montreal said Berger has moved into the top eight in the varsity lineup, because of his ability to score and defend in the post.
The coaches tried a new approach for Deppe in the second half and it saved the Tigers. Instead of having Deppe play on the perimeter, they stationed him in the paint. Campbell couldn’t stop Deppe there, with Deppe scoring 21 points in the second half.
That didn’t get the Tigers out of trouble. The Tigers couldn’t stop Ellsworth’s deadly outside shooter, Chrystian Kulow. Kulow scored 29 points and kept the Panthers in the game right to the end.
Montreal said he thought the Tigers would have defended Kulow better if senior point guard Joey Miller was in the lineup. Miller missed both of last week’s games due to an injury.
While Miller was out, Hobbs showed that he can be a key offensive weapon while playing the point. He had six assists and one turnover against Osceola and three more assists against Ellsworth.
“Isaiah does pressure defenses and create opportunities for his teammates. He filled that role very well,” Montreal said.
LaMirande played another complete game on Friday. He finished with 14 points and led the Tigers with 10 rebounds and four assists.
Cutting down on turnovers has been an ongoing focus for the Tigers and it showed last week. They turned the ball over just seven times against Osceola and six times against Ellsworth.