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New Richmond boys basketball offense misfires in playoff loss

Making improvements to the defense has been the focus of the New Richmond boys basketball team in recent weeks.

While the Tigers' defense improved in their WIAA Division 2 playoff opening game last Tuesday, the team's offense went into a funk. The Tigers dropped their playoff opener to Menomonie 47-36. The Tigers end the season with a 10-13 record.

The playoff game in Menomonie had a promising start for the Tigers. The defense got a good foothold early, as the Tigers built an 11-6 lead. That foothold began to slip in the second quarter. Menomonie scored 15 points in the second quarter to take a 21-18 lead.

Sophomore center Noah Berger was the Tigers' best offensive threat in the first half. The Tigers were able to get him the ball in the low post and he hit four of his five shots in the half.

The lead slipped further away in the third quarter, with Menomonie expanding the lead to 36-26 by the end of the quarter. The Tigers had trouble containing Menomonie's Mitchell Stai in the middle two quarters. Between the second and third quarters he scored 14 points, including draining four three-pointers.

The Tigers got five quick points to start the fourth quarter, but the offense went in the deep freeze the rest of the way. Senior Joe Deppe went 3-9 shooting in the quarter, but the rest of the team was 1-9.

Tiger coach Rick Montreal was caught by surprise that the offense struggled in the game.

"There haven't been many games were we couldn't generate points," said Montreal. "We created shots well. We just didn't shoot real well."

Deppe led the Tigers with 14 points and Berger scored 10 points. Guard Joey Miller led the team with five rebounds.

The Tigers carried nine seniors on their roster and the seniors received the vast majority of the playing time this season. Montreal said this year's junior varsity had an excellent season, losing just four games. He expects a number of the JV players will be able to step up to the varsity level and make contributions next season.

"The door is wide open," Montreal said of the options for the 2013-14 season. "If they want to step up and play, the opportunity is there."

Montreal said it was difficult to start looking ahead to next season, because he'd developed such a strong bond with this year's seniors.

"I'm proud of who they are, character wise," Montreal said. "They'll be good, upstanding members of society."