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New Richmond boys start MBC basketball season with win at Osceola

New Richmond point guard Josh Geigle drives to the hoop to score in the second half of Saturday’s loss to Eau Claire Memorial. 1 / 2
New Richmond center Noah Berger (30) tried to draw an offensive foul on this play against Eau Claire Memorial. 2 / 2

With the almost complete void of varsity experience on the New Richmond boys basketball team, some ups and downs early in the season can certainly be expected.

The Tigers came through the first week of their 2013-14 season with a win in their Middle Border Conference opener and a loss on Saturday to Eau Claire Memorial that certainly magnified the team’s inexperience.

The MBC opener was played last Tuesday at Osceola. The Tigers couldn’t have played better in the first quarter, jumping out to a 19-3 lead. But their lack of experience was exposed when Osceola turned up the pressure. Osceola trimmed the Tigers’ lead to four points by halftime and the game was tight throughout the second half. The Tigers managed to pull things together in the final minutes, led by senior Connor McCann, to earn a 55-53 win.

The Tiger coaches are hoping that defense can be the backbone to the team’s success this season. It was in the opening minutes against Osceola as the Tigers forced several turnovers with a halfcourt defense that had some bite. Seven different Tigers scored in the opening quarter to build the 19-3 lead.

“There’s no way I could have scripted a better first quarter. It was such an incredible way to start,” said Tiger coach Rick Montreal.

Osceola settled down in the second quarter and began dictating the pace of the game. The Tigers got drawn into the faster pace and didn’t use patience in shot selection.

The teams played evenly through the third quarter, leading to a fast-paced final quarter. Osceola came back to take a one-point lead briefly, before McCann knocked down two three-pointers to lock the Tigers into the lead.

New Richmond senior Keilan Mehls scored with 1.1 seconds on the clock to make the lead 53-50, but the officials decided to put four seconds on the clock. Osceola got the ball to leading scorer Trevor Pauley, who was fouled trying to make a three-point shot. Pauley hit the first free throw, but missed the next two.

McCann led the Tigers with 15 points, scoring 13 of them in the second half. In both games he showed a willingness to take the important shots, which is a key component the coaches were hoping to find. Caleb Manecke led the team with six rebounds and he contributed seven points. Point guard Josh Geigle had five assists to lead the team.

The start on Saturday couldn’t have been more different from Tuesday’s start. The Tigers were tentative at both ends of the court, falling behind 15-2. By the end of the quarter, Memorial led 17-4. The Tigers were able to get the deficit down to 10 points in the final minutes, but lost 51-37.

Montreal’s assessment of the Tigers’ start was direct, especially toward the offense.

“We ran a motionless motion (offense). We didn’t screen very well and we didn’t cut very well,” he said.

By halftime the Tigers trailed 29-12. In the third quarter the Tigers put some bite in their defense holding the Old Abes to four points, all on free throws.

The Tigers scored on nearly every possession of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Tiger defense couldn’t stop Memorial either. While the Tigers had the margin down to 10 points several times, the defense’s shortcomings prevented them from getting closer.

McCann led the Tigers with eight points in the loss and Geigle and Manecke each scored seven points. Berger’s five rebounds and Geigle’s four assists were tops on the team.

The Tigers resume their MBC schedule this Friday with a home game against Ellsworth. The Tigers will be on the road next Tuesday, playing at Durand.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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