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New Richmond girls basketball starts season in top form

Even with starting forward Hannah Simpson sidelined by elbow surgery, the New Richmond girls basketball squad looked in top form while winning its first two games of the season last week.

The Tigers put away Middle Border Conference rivals Osceola and Ellsworth, with the Tiger offense looking potent in both games. The Tigers defeated Osceola 61-39 in their season opener last Tuesday. They won their second road game of the week at Ellsworth on Friday, 59-41.

The two wins were accomplished without Simpson, who had a nickel-sized bone chip removed from her right elbow in late November, according to Tiger coach Jeff Kanewischer. He said Simpson should be able to return to the lineup sometime this month.

The offense was at mid-season form in both games for the Tigers, thanks largely to seniors Sydney Kannel and Mattie Kidder. Kannel was the model of offensive consistency at Osceola. She finished the night with 33 points, scoring at least eight points in each quarter.

Kannel was able to use her quickness to drive to the basket. She would either get a close-range shot, or would dump the ball to Kidder, when Kidder’s post defender came out to stop Kannel’s drive. Kidder finished with 16 points.

The 33 points isn’t a career high for Kannel. She scored 37 points in a Tiger win over Durand last season.

Kannel, Kidder, Maddie Kelly, Hannah Swetlik and Simpson return after being the starting lineup for most of the 2012-13 season. While Simpson is out, Kennedy Kling and Kaitlynn Belisle are splitting her position. When Simpson returns, they will be the top reserves, along with Blaire Ziebol, Emily LaPorte and Laura Seeger.

The Tigers took a 17-6 lead in the first quarter at Osceola and led comfortably through the rest of the game.

Friday’s game at Ellsworth followed a similar pattern. The Tigers led 19-6 after a quarter and 30-15 at halftime. Kannel again was the offensive terror, scoring 26 points. Swetlik gave the Tigers impressive outside shooting, nailing four three-pointers as she finished with 13 points.

In facing Ellsworth, any opponent has to plan to stop Kelsey Betthauser, one of the leading scorers in the conference last season. Kanewischer said Kelly did exceptional work against Betthauser. Betthauser finished with 17 points, but 12 came in the second half after the game was far out of reach. Kelly was also the Tigers’ top rebounder in a game where play got quite physical around the basket. Kelly also contributed eight points.

The Tigers resume their MBC schedule this Friday with a home game against Durand. The Tigers draw another top non-conference opponent next Tuesday when they play at Rice Lake.

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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