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Tigers shock B-W, tie for MBC lead

New Richmond senior guard Sydney Kannel (right) drives past a Baldwin-Woodville defender during Friday’s game in Baldwin. (Photo by Dave Newman)

In a fitting atmosphere for what is essentially a conference championship game, the New Richmond girls basketball team put out an effort worthy of a champion.

The Tigers went to unbeaten Baldwin-Woodville, playing in front of one of the largest crowds for a Middle Border Conference game in a number of years. The Tigers took the lead with a 10-0 run and never let go, surviving frantic moments in the final minutes of the game to defeat the Blackhawks 50-46.

The game was played with incredible intensity from both teams and the physical brand of basketball showed how much both teams wanted the game. The physical nature of the game nearly ended up costing the Tigers in the end. Hannah Simpson fouled out with 2:57 left and Sydney Kannel joined her on the bench with 48 seconds left, leaving the Tigers without their two strongest ballhandlers.

B-W was able to shave the Tigers’ lead to 47-46 on a shot from Alyssa Nilssen with 16 seconds left. The Hawks immediately fouled Tiger senior Mattie Kidder, but Kidder handled the pressure, hitting both shots.

The Blackhawks rushed the ball upcourt, trying a drive into the lane. Tiger junior Kaitlynn Belisle stood her ground, forcing the Hawks to cough up the ball. Maddie Kelly grabbed the free ball and was fouled. Her free throw with :03 on the clock put the game out of reach.

This was the first loss of the season for B-W, which was ranked fifth in Division 3 heading into the game.

Tiger coach Jeff Kanewischer said his team felt it “gave away” the game when it lost to B-W in the opening round of conference play 42-32.

“That’s a great team. I’m glad we don’t have to see them in the playoffs,” Kanewischer said.

Kidder led a balanced Tiger attack with 16 points. Kelly scored 11 points, getting a number of chances with strong work on the offensive glass. Hannah Swetlik scored 10 points. She hit three three-pointers, two of them during the fourth quarter.

Last Tuesday, the Tigers played at Barron, earning a 54-45 win. Barron is an opponent that has long been a part of the Tiger schedule because the Lady Bears are annually a successful program that provides the Tigers with a solid test.

Three players did the large majority of the scoring for both teams. Kannel led the Tigers with 22 points, with Simpson scoring 14 points and Kidder 13 points. Barron’s top three players combined for 43 of the team’s 45 points.

The Tigers were able to build a substantial early lead, but Barron provided a challenge because its three top players are all big and mobile, similar to the Tigers.

“We’re kind of a hybrid team,” Kanewischer said. “Our posts can go out and play on the perimeter.”

The Tiger JV and freshman teams also won at Barron, giving the New Richmond girls their first sweep of the season.

The Tigers continued their challenging non-conference schedule on Monday. Hudson has been a thorn in the paw of the Tiger program, but that changed on Monday when the Tigers lodged a 57-49 win.

Hudson led 12-10 after the opening quarter, but the Tigers took a firm hold on the lead by outscoring the Raiders 17-4 in the second quarter.

Kannel led the team with 18 points as the Tigers completed a four-game stretch of road games. Simpson scored 13 points, with the rest of the points evenly distributed amongst the rest of the team.

The next two games for the Tigers will be played at home. They host Somerset this Thursday, followed by a game with Amery next Tuesday.