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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There were some rough waters the New Richmond boys hockey team had to navigate through last week. But they survived, ending the week with a critical win that makes them the favorite to get the second seed in the WIAA sectional tournament bracket. That win came on Saturday night, when the Tigers went to River Falls and won in overtime, 4-3. Both teams knew this game was a battle for the second seed in the sectional and it showed in the end-to-end intensity displayed by both teams. The game was finally decided 2:38 into the overtime.
Just when it seemed the New Richmond boys basketball team was at its defensive best, the Tigers took defense to a whole new level last Friday. Durand beat New Richmond in the first Middle Border Conference game of the 2009-10 season. The Tigers made sure there was no chance of that happening again, with a 45-24 defensive gem. Two weeks ago, the Tigers were two games out of the MBC lead. Things change rapidly with the frequency of games in the winter.
Last Wednesday, the WIAA Board of Control voted down the redistricting proposal that would have done away with all of the state high school football conferences. In the wake of the 8-2 vote against the plan, state football programs are awaiting the fallout from the Board of Control's decision. The proposal would have done away with conferences for football and had teams clustered in eight-school brackets based solely on enrollment. While some schools applauded the proposal more schools vehemently argued against it.
Spring Valley looked nothing like a winless team when the St. Croix Central boys had to fend off a spirited effort from the Cardinals last Thursday. Central was never able to pull away from the persistent Spring Valley boys. It took a couple key three-pointers in the fourth quarter from Brian Aldworth and accurate free throw shooting for the Panthers to put a wrap on the 57-45 win. With Elk Mound knocking off Colfax on Thursday, the Panther boys now stand alone at the top of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings with an 8-1 record. The Panthers are 13-1 overall.
While the Somerset boys basketball team continues to work hard, wins have been elusive for the Spartan boys. Last Tuesday the Spartans played well in stretches in a 69-59 loss to Baldwin-Woodville. The Spartans' lack of size and experience was exploited last Friday, when they lost at Prescott 67-38. The 69-59 final against B-W doesn't mean the Spartans were close. They trailed by more than 20 points for parts of the second half.
The smiles told the story. And the smiles were huge. After two overtime losses and several other close calls, the New Richmond girls hockey team needed something good to happen. That something was a visit from the Rochester Century girls team Monday night at the New Richmond Sports Center. The Tigers dominated the game from the opening drop of the puck, scoring a 7-0 win. Even more than the score, the shots on goal showed how thoroughly the Tigers controlled this game.
The final dual meet of the season for the New Richmond wrestling team was a success last Thursday, with the Tigers scoring a 45-33 win at Osceola. This leaves the Tigers with a 5-2 Middle Border Conference record, which is good for third place in the MBC dual meet final standings. The Tigers' overall dual meet record stands at 8-5 for the season. The Tigers were without several wrestlers in the lower weights, but the success in the middle weights more than made up for it. From 125 to 140 pounds the Tigers lodged four straight wins.
With two starters out with injuries, it would have been easy for the New Richmond girls basketball team to wave the white flag when they played at Amery last Friday. Instead, the Tigers rallied, playing one of their best defensive games of the season. Amery won the game 39-36, but not without a heart-wrenching end for the Tigers. New Richmond's Kendra Mitchell rebounded a missed free throw with less than two seconds remaining and the Tigers called a timeout. The inbounds play got the ball to Tiger senior Jordan Van Dyk at halfcourt.
After losing three straight Middle Border Conference games, the Somerset girls basketball team went to Baldwin-Woodville last Thursday trying to refind its game. They found it. The Spartans pounced on the inexperienced Blackhawk girls, taking a 25-4 lead through the middle of the second quarter. With the early insurmountable lead, Spartan coach Kendrick Livers substituted liberally. That led to the Spartans winning 44-31. The win raises the Spartans to 3-3 in MBC games.
The two wins of the week weren't the biggest news made by the St. Croix Central girls basketball team over the past week. Central scored wins over Elmwood and Spring Valley, but they nearly rocked the basketball world with their upset bid against Dunn-St. Croix Conference leader Boyceville last Tuesday. The Panthers battled Boyceville evenly right to the end of the game. The Panthers missed a three-point shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime, losing 43-40. Boyceville has a potent offense, led by the Bodsberg sisters, Cansis and Krista.