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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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.
Falling behind by double digits in the first quarter left the St. Croix Central boys basketball team in a hole it couldn’t dig out from in last Friday’s game at St. Croix Falls. The Saints are the leaders of the Lakeland West Conference and they looked the part in beating the Panthers 59-42 on Friday. The loss drops the Panthers to 1-7 for the season. Central coach Zach Turpin said he thought the Panthers looked rusty in their first game in two weeks, though the team practiced frequently over the break.
The New Richmond boys basketball team played crisply at the start, but it was the Somerset boys who had staying power as the teams opened the 2014 portion of their schedule in Somerset on Friday. New Richmond held a 20-15 lead early in the second quarter. The Spartans scored the final 11 points of the quarter to lead 26-20 at halftime. The Spartans continued to control the action through the second half, beating the Tigers 52-33. Somerset was led by senior center Gaelin Elmore, who scored 17 points.
Wisconsin teams saw unprecedented success in the Rochester (Minn.) Kiwanis Hockey Festival and the New Richmond boys were part of that success. Verona and Northland Pines, both Wisconsin teams, won the two divisions of the tournament. New Richmond took third place among eight teams in the gold division of the tournament.
Senior Gaelin Elmore became the fifth player in Somerset boys basketball history to score 1,000 points in his career during the Spartans’ 73-46 win over Glenwood City in the Hilltoppers’ holiday tournament. The Spartans opened the tournament with a 54-45 win over St. Croix Falls on Friday. The Spartans faced the host school on Saturday and they made sure Elmore got to the 1,000-point mark right away. The Spartans ran an alley oop pass to Elmore on the first possession of the game, but the play didn’t connect.
It took the New Richmond girls basketball team a half to find its offense, but a strong second half lifted the Tigers to a 35-22 win over Thorp in the championship game of the Thorp Holiday Invitational on Saturday. The first half of the game was anything but explosive for the Tiger offense. They scored eight points in the opening eight minutes. But in the second quarter, the Tigers were held scoreless. Tiger leading scorer Sydney Kannel was getting heavy defensive attention in the first half.
Even with senior standout Shane Blackman sidelined with an injury, the New Richmond wrestling team was quite competitive in the 2013 Bi-State Classic in La Crosse on Friday and Saturday. Four Tigers were placewinners in the tournament. The Tigers competed in Division 1 of the tournament, placing seventh among 18 Division 1 teams. They finished ahead of long-time wrestling powers like Wausau West and D.C. Everest. Junior Derek Dowd was the top placewinner for the Tigers, taking fifth place in the 138-pound bracket.
The youth of the Somerset wrestling team was clear at the Northern Badger Wrestling Invitational. But the three most experienced Spartans who took the mat in the tournament at River Falls High School last Friday and Saturday were all placewinners. The Spartans were without senior Bailey White, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury. That left senior Gage Kreucher, junior Max Praschak and sophomore Logan Peterson as the only Spartans in the lineup who were in the lineup last season.
Brian Gibb has become the leader of the St. Croix Central wrestling team. He’s doing the job in the wrestling room and on the mat. Gibb took second place in a talent-heavy 182-pound class to lead the Panthers at the 2013 Northern Badger Invitational at River Falls High School last Friday and Saturday. Gibb was one of four state-ranked wrestlers who filled the top spots in the tournament’s 182-pound class. In the semifinals, Gibb defeated Cumberland’s Jaylen Lansin 8-1.
Getting the experience of handling the pressure of playing in close games was the benefit that came out of Somerset’s visit to the Thorp holiday girls basketball tournament last Friday and Saturday. The Spartans (1-6) lost close games to Thorp and Abbotsford in the tournament. With the lack of varsity experience the Spartans possess, learning how to handle the rigors of pressure situations is another step the team needs to learn how to take. In the opening day of the tournament, the Spartans lost to Thorp 53-45. The Spartans didn’t start well in this game, falling behind by 13 points.