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New Richmond boys basketball rediscovers defense, wins at Hayward

Tiger senior Connor McCann (44) sends a pass into the paint in a recent New Richmond game.

For the better part of a decade, a fierce defense has been at the core of the identity of the New Richmond boys basketball program.

It now looks like the 2013-14 Tigers may be finding a combination that can add to that tradition.

The pieces began to fall into place for the Tigers defensively during the second half of last Tuesday’s 42-37 loss at Durand. It continued on Thursday, when the Tigers ventured north to Hayward and scored a 46-38 non-conference victory.

Tiger coach Rick Montreal said he was particularly pleased with the defensive effort from the guard rotation. It began at Durand with Connor O’Loughlin, Caleb Manecke, Cole Nord and Josh Geigle in the rotation. The Tigers limited Durand to six points in the third quarter and nine points in the fourth quarter.

Even with Geigle out sick on Thursday, the perimeter defense continued to show promise. The Tigers held Hayward to 10 points in the first quarter, seven in the second quarter and four in the third quarter as the Tigers amassed a 37-21 lead. Hayward was able to cut into the margin when the Tiger reserves got extensive playing time in the fourth quarter.

The Tiger coaches have been searching for an asset to build this team around and it now appears defense can be that strength. Montreal said O’Loughlin was given the responsibility of guarding the opponent’s top scorer in both games last week and he was up to the challenge. The coaches were also pleased with the energy Nord brought to the defense. Nord and Manecke shared the team lead with three steals each.

The guards also led the offense in the win at Hayward. Manecke produced a career-high by scoring 18 points and O’Loughlin finished with 10 points. Noah Berger led the team with five rebounds.

Durand’s Jacob Bauer and Tyler Gruber lit up the Tigers for 18 points in the first half of last Tuesday’s game. It was a different story in the second half as Durand’s tandem of leading scorers was limited to a combined five points.

The Tigers were able to get Berger established in the post at Durand, something the coaches are looking to do more. He scored a season-high 10 points in that game, while adding five rebounds. Geigle led the team with seven rebounds from his point guard position and he also led the team with three assists.

The 2013 schedule for the Tigers ends with two challenging road games. They will play at Baldwin-Woodville on Thursday and at Chippewa Falls on Saturday. The Tigers then get an extended break before taking up their schedule again on Jan. 3.

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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