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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A road trip to Milwaukee over the weekend was used to prepare the New Richmond boys hockey team for the upcoming WIAA playoffs. The Tigers open the playoffs at home this Thursday. They will face the winner of Tuesday's game between Somerset and Barron. The winner on Thursday will advance to the WIAA sectional semifinals next Tuesday. The Milwaukee road trip started Friday, with the Tigers defeating the WNS Storm 8-3 at the Kern Center on the Milwaukee School of Engineering campus.
Nothing will cause coaches and athletes more ulcers and gray hair than the two-word combination "what if." That's what the Somerset boys basketball team is stewing over after seeing their second substantial lead fritter away against one of the Middle Border Conference's top teams. On Jan. 31 the Spartans had a six-point lead slip away in the final minute of a 52-51 loss at Baldwin-Woodville. Last Thursday at New Richmond the Spartans had another substantial lead get away from them.
An offensive swoon has dropped the Somerset girls basketball team out of contention for the Middle Border Conference title. The Spartans have dropped three straight games, including setbacks against Prescott and New Richmond last week when Somerset was held under 30 points in both games. The losing streak has dropped the Spartans to 6-5, tied for third place in the MBC standings with Prescott. Friday's loss at New Richmond was an alarming performance from the Spartans. With eight seniors on the roster, the Spartans were vastly more experienced than New Richmond's girls.
The four Somerset wrestlers who have been standouts all season continued their success at the WIAA Division 2 regional meet in Ellsworth on Saturday. If they can maintain that level of success in this Saturday's Division 2 sectional in Osceola, they will earn a place in the 2012 WIAA State Wrestling Championships. Qualifying for the sectional meet from Somerset are seniors Austin Bushinger and Haydon Dvorak and juniors Bobby LeRoy and Gabe Flandrick.
Fast starts have been one of the things the St. Croix Central boys basketball team has done well this season. The Panthers jumped out to a 12-5 lead against Ellsworth last Tuesday. Ellsworth managed to come back, topping Central 53-42. Central's inability to handle full-court pressure proved to be its undoing. Central led 15-6 early in the second quarter. Ellsworth, which has a strong pool of guards, then clamped down the press.
The Ellsworth regional meet was packed with surprises -- some good, some painful -- for the St. Croix Central wrestling team. The Panthers were able to advance eight wrestlers to this Saturday's Osceola Division 2 sectional meet.
In two of its three games over the last week, the New Richmond girls hockey team played quite well for parts of the game, but the Tigers were undone by one bad stretch of play. The exception was on Saturday. The Tigers played a complete game, with no lapses, in winning at Superior on Saturday, 2-1. The Tigers now turn their focus to the WIAA playoffs. New Richmond is the eighth seed in the sectional tournament bracket. They open play at 7 p.m.
Proving themselves playoff-ready was an important step for the Somerset hockey team last week. The Spartans wanted to prove, to themselves perhaps more than anyone else, that they were ready to be a factor entering the WIAA hockey playoffs this week. By beating Altoona 5-0 and the Eau Claire Regis co-op team 8-3, the Spartans took the strides they needed to be ready. The playoffs were scheduled to begin on Tuesday night, with Somerset hosting Barron. The winner of Tuesday's game will play at New Richmond at 7 p.m.
At the start of the season the St. Croix Central girls basketball team was one of the youngest teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. Losing two of their most experienced players in the past two weeks to season-ending injuries has the Panthers playing at new levels of inexperience. In the opening minutes of last Tuesday's game at Plum City, Panther junior forward Arinn DiSalvo suffered a dislocated knee cap while playing defense.
New Richmond's boys basketball team needed its best performance of the season to retain the Middle Border Conference lead. That's just what the Tigers produced. New Richmond and Baldwin-Woodville went into Friday's game at the NRHS gym tied at the top of the MBC standings with 7-2 records. Baldwin-Woodville hit a three-pointer for the opening points of the game, but it would be the only highlight for the Blackhawks.