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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This will be one of the most festive holiday breaks in years for the St. Croix Central girls basketball team. After starting the season 0-3, the Panthers roared back to win their final three games in December. That included a convincing 51-28 win at Osceola last Tuesday and a hard-fought 58-45 homecourt win over Spring Valley last Thursday. Last Tuesday’s win was the first against Osceola in the five years that Luke Fritsche has been coaching the team. The Panthers won the game with a gem of a defensive effort, limiting the Chieftains to nine points in the first half.
Traveling across the state to compete at Tomahawk proved beneficial for the Somerset wrestling team on Saturday. The Tomahawk Invitational was structured with varsity and JV levels of the tournament. The Spartan coaches decided to have their five most experienced wrestlers compete in the varsity tournament and the seven less experienced wrestlers be part of the JV field. The decision produced excellent results. The Spartans only lost five matches all day and every Somerset wrestler earned at least one victory.
The first test for the Somerset boys basketball team in the Middle Border Conference title chase didn’t go as planned. The Spartans went to Prescott last Friday in a clash of two of the teams expected to be top competitors for the 2013-14 MBC title. The Spartans couldn’t match the firepower of the prolific Cardinals, losing 57-45. Somerset got 19 points from senior guard Jack Emmert, but only two other Spartans scored more than three points.
The Dec. 14 loss to New Richmond could be the turning point for the Somerset hockey team’s season. That loss was at least partially the result of undisciplined penalties taken by the Spartans. The loss caused Somerset coach Dan Gilkerson to add an extra consequence when the Spartans took undisciplined or retaliatory penalties. That consequence was missing an extra 10 minutes of game time. That action caused several Spartans to miss extra time in last Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to Eau Claire Regis. But the message may have gotten across.
Every game is a learning experience when you’re starting four freshmen and a sophomore. The Somerset girls basketball team put itself in a position for a win on Friday against Prescott, building a nine-point lead by halftime. A tough lesson came for the Spartans in the second half. Prescott upped the pressure and the Spartans didn’t react well. Their lead vanished quickly. Prescott was able to maintain a slim lead through the fourth quarter, winning 42-35. Spartan coach Kendrick Livers said the team didn’t look young in the first half.
Though the day started with two losses, the St. Croix Central wrestling team finished Saturday’s Osceola Invitational with a successful flurry of wins. The Panthers opened the tournament by losing to talented teams from River Falls and Cumberland. The Panthers then got on a roll, scoring wins over Clear Lake, Barron and Osceola. A number of the Panthers had excellent days in the tournament. Freshman Cole Refsnider went through the tournament without a defeat, winning four matches and receiving one forfeit. “He was a nice surprise,” said Central coach Brad Holzer.
With nearly half the team sick or injured, the Western Wisconsin Stars girls hockey team badly needed a break. The girls varsity hockey team headed into their holiday break with a 4-6 record after a 6-0 loss at Woodbury, Minn., last Thursday. By the third period of Thursday’s game the Stars were down to five healthy forwards and three healthy defensemen.
Here are this week's scores from the bowling leagues at Gibby's Lanes in New Richmond.
The New Richmond girls and Somerset boys basketball teams both faced showdowns on Friday night to maintain their place among the Middle Border Conference leaders. Neither had a successful night. New Richmond and Baldwin-Woodville played another close battle, but the Blackhawk girls were able to pull away in the second half, defeating New Richmond 42-32. Somerset's boys went to Prescott hoping to slow down the red-hot Cardinals. The Spartans couldn't achieve that goal, losing to Prescott 57-45. In other MBC boys basketball action on Friday, Osceola edged Amery 45-39.
With huge sectional and Middle Border Conference ramifications, not to mention the pride of the New Richmond-Somerset rivalry at stake, the Tiger boys hockey team produced a gem in Somerset on Saturday night. New Richmond got a goal from Nick Lubow at 2:10 into the overtime to score a 3-2 win over the Spartans. The win moves the Tigers to 2-0 in the MBC and it’s the second time the Tigers have knocked off a top sectional rival.