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 Somerset boys basketball team delivered Ellsworth's first loss of the Middle Border Conference season on Thursday, holding off the Panthers 70-67. The result leaves both teams with 4-1 MBC records, in second place behind Prescott. Ellsworth played a strong first half behind post player Will Huppert, who had 14 of his 23 points before halftime. Somerset took a 28-27 lead into hafltime after scoring the final eight points of the second quarter. In the second half the Spartans' lead grew as large as 13 points.
The long tradition of success of the New Richmond High School dance team was continued in its 2014 conference meet on Saturday. The Tigers earned the Middle Border Conference championship in the kick division at the meet on Saturday in Hudson. The Tigers took second place in the pom division. The Western Wisconsin Dance Conference brings together teams from the Middle Border, Big Rivers and Dunn-St. Croix conferences for a day of competition.
Strong third periods helped the New Richmond boys hockey team finish off wins over Menomonie and St. Paul Johnson last week. The Tigers won at Menomonie on Thursday 4-0. That was followed by a 5-2 win at St. Paul Johnson on Saturday. Those wins raise the Tigers’ season record to 10-4. Thursday’s game was important because Menomonie is another team in the WIAA Section 1 tournament bracket, so the Tigers couldn’t afford a letdown. The Tigers weren’t at their sharpest in the first two periods, but the Tiger power play continued to be productive.
The mercurial nature of the New Richmond boys basketball team continues to baffle, but it also gives a glimmer of hope. The Tigers dropped to 2-9 for the season with a pair of losses over the weekend. In all nine of those losses, there were stretches where the Tigers looked like a respectable team. Friday’s loss at Somerset is a prime example. The Tigers lost 52-33, but for the first 11 minutes of the game, it would have been easy to argue that the Tigers were the better team.
The Somerset boys basketball coaching staff used the 2013 portion of the team’s schedule to assess the team’s strengths. The Spartans unveiled a new lineup and a new approach in their first game of 2014, a 52-33 homecourt win over New Richmond last Friday. The coaches decided that the play of center Gaelin Elmore and the team’s abundance of quick guards were the strengths that they would try to build around for the rest of the season. That meant a change in the starting lineup, moving J.T.
There was a bluntness rarely seen from New Richmond girls basketball coach Jeff Kanewischer when asked if his team was ready to play at a peak level now that the 2014 portion of the Tigers’ season has begun. “We’re there,” Kanewischer said unflinchingly. “In my mind, we’re functioning at the level we need to be at.” You could say the Tigers got battle tested in their opening game of 2014 last Friday when they hosted the River Falls Wildcats.
Boyceville is one of the leading girls basketball teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. Somerset’s girls gave Boyceville all it could handle for three quarters on Friday. The Bulldogs took advantage of the Spartans’ inexperience in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 49-34 win over the Spartans. The Spartans trailed 35-29 entering the fourth quarter.
Beefing up the schedule was a priority for the Somerset hockey team this season. There was plenty of beef on the ice when Antigo invaded the Somerset Ice Arena on Saturday. The state-ranked Red Robins found a worthy opponent in the Spartans, with the game ending in a 4-4 tie. Antigo was ranked seventh in the state heading into the game with a 9-1-1 record. The Red Robins boast one of the largest lineups in the state, led by senior Blake Kirsch, who scored the first goal of the game. Kirsch is 6-3 and is listed at 270 pounds and he towered over most of the players in the game.
It seems that every week throws a new curve at the Western Wisconsin Stars girls hockey team. The latest calamity that has befallen the Stars is an injury to starting goaltender Tina Montpetit. Montpetit was pulled out of last Thursday’s game against Superior after one period because of a back injury. The Stars ended up losing that game 9-4 and they lost to the St. Croix Valley Fusion 6-0 on Saturday. Stepping in for Montpetit is senior Alice Gramenz, who has never played goalie in an official game before.
Trailing at halftime at Ellsworth last Friday didn’t bother the St. Croix Central girls basketball team. Central’s girls knew they could use their best weapon to turn the game back in their favor. That weapon, full-court pressure, worked as Central took charge of the game by outscoring Ellsworth 24-10 in the third quarter.