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Somerset edges New Richmond to extend MBC boys basketball gap

Somerset's Tyler Ledbeter (center) and New Richmond's Jake LaMirande (40) battle for control of a rebound during the first half of Thursday's game.

Thursday's boys basketball game between New Richmond and Somerset held huge ramifications for both teams.

And they played like it too, with both teams having players step up as new scoring sources. Somerset proved to have too much production, winning on the new NRHS floor for the first time in a 62-57 final decision.

Somerset took the lead in the middle of the first quarter and gave it up only once. That came when Tiger Joe Deppe scored two straight hoops late in the third quarter to put the Tigers in front 38-37. Somerset scored the final five points of the quarter and the Tigers were stuck playing catch-up throughout the fourth quarter. The Tigers got the lead down to two points once and three points several times. Each time, Somerset went to junior Gaelin Elmore, who was nearly unstoppable. Elmore finished the game with a career-high 28 points.

It was the Spartans' first win over New Richmond in the five seasons Brent Larson has been coaching Somerset. This was the first time that Somerset had defeated New Richmond since the Spartans swept both MBC games from the Tigers in the 2004-05 season.

The win raises Somerset into a tie with Durand at the top of the MBC standings at 3-0. New Richmond falls to a tenuous spot in the standings with a 1-3 record.

New Richmond went into the game looking for more diversity in its offense. The Tigers knew Somerset was going to throw heavy defensive pressure at Deppe, New Richmond's leading scorer. The Tigers found diversity, with seniors Isaiah Hobbs and Joey Miller stepping up with their biggest scoring contributions. Hobbs was especially aggressive, finishing with a career-high 14 points. Miller ended with nine points, most coming off fastbreaks after Tiger steals.

The Spartans hounded Deppe. Deppe did an admirable job of getting off his shot extremely quickly when he was able to get a glimpse of an open shot. He also drew several fouls in the second half, going 6-6 from the line to finish with 19 points.

The Tigers needed players to step up to offset the strong scoring from the Spartans. Elmore was able to hit shots from the perimeter, but he did his biggest damage by scoring off post moves. Coach Larson said he hopes to get Elmore and Tyler Ledbeter more opportunities to score in the post during the rest of the season.

Defense was a big factor in this game. New Richmond was looking for improved defense and they were able to force the Spartans into 17 turnovers. But the Tigers had difficulty getting stops when Somerset got the ball into the paint.

Somerset's defensive effort was led by senior Matt Skoglund. Skoglund had several steals, especially during a pivotal stretch of the third quarter.

The Spartans will play one game over the holiday break, hosting Spooner at 7:30 p.m. this Friday.

New Richmond will have an extended break, with their next game being played at Amery on Friday, Jan. 4. Tiger coach Rick Montreal said the team's offense won't get a great deal of attention over the break, because the coaches liked the balance shown by the offense on Thursday. The focus of the practices during the break will be the defense.

Montreal said the team has to get better at playing man-to-man defense and to play with deep intensity all through a game.

Spartans face Tartan

Somerset's boys took their non-conference schedule to another level last Tuesday, facing one of the top teams in the Twin Cities area, the defending Classic Suburban Conference champions from Tartan. The Spartans made a game of it until the third quarter, when Tartan pulled away for a 69-50 win.

Coach Larson said this experience is like none other the team could get because of Tartan's wide array of physical talent.

"It'd be like us going against Milwaukee King," Larson commented. "It's good for us to go against quickness like that. It's very hard to replicate. It's humbling to have those moments."

Tartan's exceptional quickness at guard forced the Spartans into 27 turnovers, 16 of them by the point guards.

Somerset got as close as 24-21 in the second quarter. Tartan rallied late in the second quarter to build the halftime margin to nine points at 33-24.

Luke Praschak led the Spartans with 11 points in the loss. Elmore scored 10 points and Emmert nine points. Elmore led the Spartans with six rebounds and four steals.