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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The New Richmond girls basketball team was the first of three victims that fell to Rice Lake in the WIAA Division 2 regional basketball tournament last week. Rice Lake was the third seed in the region, but the Warriors defeated New Richmond, Ashland and Hayward to win the regional championship. Rice Lake will now face Sparta in the Division 2 sectional semifinals at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Eau Claire North. New Richmond fell to Rice Lake 55-26 in the opening round of regionals last Tuesday. The Tigers end the season with a 3-20 record.
The New Richmond hockey team had everything fall perfectly into place in qualifying for the 2011 WIAA State Boys Hockey Tournament. The one thing the Tigers couldn't control in the state tournament was the most important: where they were placed in the state tournament bracket. The Tigers got the worst of possible draws, facing eventual state champion Wausau West. The Tigers put up a heartfelt fight, but lost to the Warriors 5-0 in the state quarterfinals at the Alliant Energy Center last Thursday. The Tigers finish the winter with a 21-6 record.
It was an all or nothing battle for the conference title. When Somerset and Prescott clashed last Thursday, the teams knew the winner would be a Middle Border Conference champion and the loser would get nothing. After trailing by five points at halftime, the Spartans took control of the game by outscoring Prescott 17-2 in the third quarter.
Getting past the regional final remains an elusive goal for the New Richmond boys basketball team. The Tigers were upset in Saturday's regional final, losing to River Falls 54-45 at Osceola High School. River Falls advances to the WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal. They will face Onalaska in that game, which will be played at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Eau Claire North High School. The winner of Thursday's game will play in the sectional championship game in Marshfield at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The Tigers finish the season with a 22-2 record. This matches the best record in team history.
One of the best girls basketball teams in Minnesota has a strong Wisconsin representation. Claire Van Dyk of New Richmond, Tessa Cichy of Somerset and Morgan Rustad of Hudson are all key members of the top-ranked Hill-Murray High School girls basketball team in St. Paul. Another Hudson resident, eighth grader Olivia Graskewicz, is working her way onto the Hill-Murray varsity team. Hill-Murray is the top seed in its sectional tournament bracket. The Pioneers will play in the sectional championship game this Thursday at 7 p.m. against South St.
The rest of the New Richmond girls basketball team wanted to give their seniors a Senior Night to remember. For a half, the Tigers battled basket-for-basket with Durand, one of the teams that would tie for third place in the Middle Border Conference. But in the second half the Tigers' shooting went cold and the Tigers took a 41-29 loss in their regular season finale last Thursday. The Tigers ended the regular season with a 2-12 record in the MBC and a 3-19 overall mark. The Tigers were scheduled to open WIAA Division 2 regional tournament action on Tuesday at Rice Lake.
Dylan Rivard is getting ready to start his senior track season. He's also completed his plans for his next track season. Rivard has competed at the WIAA State Track Meet each of the past two seasons. With track practice beginning this Monday, Rivard is looking at returning to the state meet for his senior season. He also knows he'll be running track for four years after his high school career is completed. On Monday Rivard signed his college letter of intent to run track at UW-Parkside. Rivard is the second St. Croix County runner to join the Parkside program. St.
A.J. Wallace found the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. That's why he accepted a scholarship offer to become part of the University of Minnesota-Crookston football program. Wallace, a senior at New Richmond High School, last week signed his Division 2 national letter of intent to attend Crookston. He is the second local athlete to sign on with Crookston this winter. Somerset's Ashley Martell has accepted a scholarship offer to play basketball at Crookston next year. Wallace stands 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds.
Ending the season on a positive note was a goal for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team. By winning their WIAA Division 3 playoff opener against St. Croix Falls last Tuesday, the Panthers achieved their goal. The Panthers defeated the Saints 54-46 on Tuesday. That moved Central into the regional semifinal on Friday against Osceola. Central led for much of the first half, but the Panthers couldn't match a push made by the Chieftains in the third quarter.
Another sign that the Somerset boys basketball program is turning around came last Tuesday, when the Spartans earned their first WIAA tournament win in six years. The Spartans, who were seeded fifth, went to Amery and eliminated the Warriors, 57-48. That win moved the Spartans into the regional semifinals at top-seeded Unity on Friday. The Spartans found they still have steps to go before they can compete with top teams in the area, losing 60-39. The Spartans finish the season with a 6-17 overall record.