New Richmond boys basketball finds .500 level in Middle Border Conference
A final record at the .500 level was a fitting finish for the New Richmond boys basketball team in the Middle Border Conference this season.
The Tigers assured their .500 finish by splitting their final two MBC games. They lost on their home court to Prescott last Tuesday before winning at Osceola Friday.
In both games the Tigers played three strong quarters. They couldn't survive a defensive implosion in the fourth quarter against Prescott, losing 54-46. They struggled in the first quarter at Osceola, before finding an offensive rhythm that carried them past the Chieftains 54-44.
In last Tuesday's home finale against Prescott, the Tigers played thee excellent quarters. They led 31-28 heading into the fourth quarter. Then Prescott's Clay Seifert caught fire. He scored 14 points in the quarter. Prescott big man Nick Jacobsen benefitted from Seifert's success, as the Tigers had to extend their defense in an effort to stop Seifert. Jacobsen got some open post looks and scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
"We allowed them to get comfortable and we weren't able to take it away from them," Tiger coach Rick Montreal said of Prescott's hot fourth quarter. "We were the better team for three quarters."
Joe Deppe led the Tigers with 19 points Tuesday. Jake LaMirande finished with eight points and Joey Miller and Noah Berger each scored six points. LaMirande led the team with six rebounds and four assists.
At Osceola, the Tigers were stagnant in the first quarter, trailing 13-6. So the coaches decided to change the offense, installing an offense that included more cuts through the middle of the court and more overall motion. The Tigers were also instructed to get more aggressive in the transition game, taking full advantage of every fastbreak possibility.
That resulted in the Tigers outscoring the Chieftains 12-4 in the second quarter and 17-9 in the third quarter. The Tigers carried a comfortable lead through the fourth quarter.
Deppe had one of his strongest nights of the season. He scored 20 points and finished with season highs of nine rebounds and six assists.
The bench was a big part of the win on Friday, particularly seniors Zac Parfitt and Dustin Reed. Parfitt contributed nine points and four rebounds. Reed scored eight points, including a pair of three-pointers.
"I feel Dustin's almost a secret weapon for us going into the playoffs," Montreal said. "He's a nice shooter."
The Tigers were scheduled to begin the WIAA Division 2 playoffs on Tuesday with a game at Menomonie. New Richmond is the ninth seed in the tournament bracket and Menomonie is the eighth seed. The winner of Tuesday's game faces a big assignment. They will travel to Onalaska on Friday to battle the top seed in the region. Onalaska enters the playoffs with a 20-2 record and a Mississippi Valley Conference championship to its credit.