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New Richmond girls basketball builds toward key four-game stretch

While she may stand six feet, two inches tall, senior Mattie Kidder can bring the ball upcourt when needed for the New Richmond girls basketball team.

There is a four-game stretch beginning next Monday that will likely decide whether the New Richmond girls basketball team wins the Middle Border Conference title and where the Tigers will be seeded in the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament bracket.

The Tigers improved to 10-2 for the season last Friday with a 36-24 win at Prescott. That win put the Tigers at 6-1 in the MBC standings, one game behind unbeaten Baldwin-Woodville.

The Tigers play at home this Friday against winless Ellsworth, but the team’s coaches have also been looking forward. Beginning next Monday, the Tigers face Hudson, Durand, Barron and Baldwin-Woodville. Hudson and Barron are quality non-conference opponents and those games will have a bearing on the Tigers’ hopes of getting the top seed in the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament bracket.

Durand and Baldwin-Woodville are the Tigers’ main competition at the top of the MBC standings.

That stretch of games begins next Monday when the Tigers play at Hudson.

The Tigers wrapped up the first half of their conference schedule with last Friday’s game at Prescott. Prescott did its best to slow the Tigers down, using a zone defense that steered heavy pressure toward Tiger senior Sydney Kannel. The Tigers again proved that, when teams take away one facet of their offense, others emerge. In Friday’s game, seniors Mattie Kidder and Maddie Kelly took the offensive lead.

Kidder led the Tigers with 13 points and Kelly finished with nine points. Kidder was able to create space at the low block to get her shots away while Kelly had several effective moves along the baseline.

One of the Tigers’ best assets in Friday’s game was their full-court pressure. Tiger coach Jeff Kanewischer said Kidder is the element that makes the team’s press so effective.

“Mattie goes so unnoticed at the top of our press,” Kanewischer said. “People don’t realize her wingspan or how high she can jump.”

The press got the Tigers several quick scores to start the game, helping them lead 10-3 after a quarter. At halftime the score stood at 15-9 in the Tigers’ favor.

This was the second straight game where the Tiger defense held the opposition to single digits for field goals. The Tigers were able to accomplish that on Friday despite having several players in foul trouble. Kidder was also a key factor in the half-court defense, blocking eight shots and grabbing as many rebounds.

“That’s two games in a row where she’s been phenomenal for us,” Kanewischer said of Kidder, crediting Kidder with holding Prescott’s leading scorer to one field goal in Friday’s game.

Kanewischer said the entire team did an excellent job of positioning in this game, not allowing Prescott any easy paths to the basket.

This week the Tigers are scheduled to face the two bottom teams in the MBC, including Friday’s game with Ellsworth. The coaches have targeted these games as chances to alter some things the team has been doing.

“We have identified some things we want to work on. In the second time around (the conference schedule), we want to show a few new things,” Kanewischer said.

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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