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New Richmond girls basketball knocks off state-ranked Chippewa Falls

New Richmond’s Kennedy Kling protects the ball as she looks for an open teammate in the Tigers’ win over Chippewa Falls.

It had become an annual ritual that the New Richmond girls basketball team would face Chippewa Falls and come out licking their wounds after a thumping from the perennial-power Cardinals.

So when the New Richmond girls knocked off the Division 1 state-ranked Chippewa Falls squad last Tuesday, 52-47, it was a highly satisfying win for the Tigers.

“That was a huge confidence booster,” said New Richmond coach Jeff Kanewischer. “They beat us by 35 last year, 30 the year before.”

In fact, there have been searches done and the last time it was found that the Tigers defeated Chippewa Falls was nearly 20 years ago, on Dec. 28, 1993, when the Tigers won in overtime, 60-54.

The game was just what you’d expect from two high echelon teams. Chippewa Falls led 33-30 entering the fourth quarter. The Tigers started the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run and never gave up the lead.

Senior guard Sydney Kannel led the late charge, scoring nine of her game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter. Hannah Swetlik scored 11 points, Kaitlynn Belisle finished with nine points, Mattie Kidder seven points, Maddie Kelly six points and Kennedy Kling four points.

Belisle and Kling have gotten extra playing time since starting forward Hannah Simpson was out at the start of the season due to elbow surgery. Belisle and Kling have both progressed, giving the Tigers stronger depth. Belisle scored all six of the Tigers’ points in the second quarter against Chippewa Falls.

“She’s a little blue-collar worker, she gets things done,” Kanewischer said of Belisle.

Simpson was able to make her first appearance of the season on Friday, when the Tigers defeated Durand 48-39 in New Richmond. The win raises the Tigers’ record to 4-0.

Durand is playing without reigning Middle Border Conference MVP Lexi Harmon, who isn’t playing this season, reportedly because of a back injury. Durand plays at a face pace and the Panthers’ intensity got the best of the Tigers in the opening minutes of the game. Durand took a hasty 8-1 lead and held a 10-7 advantage at the end of the opening quarter.

The Tigers took the lead by outscoring Durand 16-9 in the second quarter. Durand went to a box-and-one defense against Kannel in the third quarter. That helped the Tigers get the ball to Kidder in the post and she scored seven points in the quarter to help the Tigers lengthen their lead. The lead remained in the 10-12 point range most of the fourth quarter.

Kanewischer said the Tigers have seen Kannel get special defensive attention before and they know how to deal with it.

“All my girls are quite capable offensively. We can attack from the inside or outside,” he said.

Kannel led the Tigers with 22 points on Friday and Kidder scored 11 points. Simpson and Swetlik each finished with six points.

The Tigers conclude a difficult pre-Christmas schedule this Friday with a showdown of Middle Border Conference leaders. The Tigers will play at Baldwin-Woodville, with both teams carrying 3-0 MBC records into the game. The Tigers and Blackhawks were the top teams in the MBC last year and both return nearly their entire team this season.

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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