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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How strong is the Dunn-St. Croix Conference in wrestling this season? The St. Croix Central wrestling team has a 23-3 dual meet record and all three losses have come against D-SC teams. The third of those losses came last Thursday, when the Panthers lost a gut-wrenching battle with Spring Valley-Elmwood, 30-29. You couldn't ask for a closer match. The Panthers and Cards both won seven matches and each team scored two pins.
Winning in Durand is never easy and last Tuesday's 67-65 win by the Somerset boys basketball team in Durand is a reflection of the Spartans' improvement. Over the weekend the Spartans fell short against two well established programs, from Baldwin-Woodville and Webster. The win in Durand last Tuesday showed the Spartans playing well in all facets of their game. They took the lead early and held a lead of 4-6 points most of the game. The lead grew to as much as 10 points. Somerset coach Brent Larson was impressed with the energy the Spartans played with at Durand.
St. Croix Central's girls led after three quarters, but couldn't finish off Boyceville last Thursday. The Bulldogs outscored the Panthers 17-7 in the fourth quarter to get ahead in the final score, 41-32. The loss drops Central to 4-3 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings and 6-6 overall. Central coach Luke Fritsche said the girls need to find ways to create easy points. The team is simply having trouble scoring points. They're averaging 29 points in their last three games. He said one of the easiest ways to increase the point total would be to get to the free throw line more often.
This is unaccustomed territory for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team. The Panthers have now lost five straight games, something that the team hasn't suffered through in a decade. The latest losses came last week, when the Panthers lost to Elmwood and Spring Valley. The losses came in games with vastly different styles. Last Tuesday the Panthers lost in an offensive shootout with Elmwood, 79-63. Friday's game with Spring Valley took on much more of a defensive tone, with the Cards winning 47-35. Timing hasn't been working well for the Panthers either.
Brad Nemec isn't retiring. He prefers to think of it as graduating. For someone who has spent his life in education, that's fitting. Last Thursday was Nemec's final day as athletic director for the Somerset School District. He's held that title for 25 years and he's spent 33 years in education. Nemec's final day was capped by a retirement party at General Sam's where throngs of people stopped by to share stories and give their best wishes. Nemec's main title has been athletic director, but he's served in many roles in the school district and community through the years.
The biggest upset of the Middle Border Conference season thus far was pulled off by the New Richmond girls basketball team. The Tiger girls used a ferocious defensive effort to stun Prescott last Thursday, 43-35. Prescott had brought an 8-2 overall record into the game, while the Tigers were 2-4 at that point. The win, combined with the Tigers' win over Baldwin-Woodville last Tuesday, raised the Tigers to 2-1 in the conference standings. From the first seconds of the game the Tigers' intent was clear.
Amery tried to do it with defense. No team has been able to stop the New Richmond boys basketball team thus far in the 2010-11 season. So when the Tigers went to Amery last Friday, they met a Warrior team that was going to try to force the Tigers to slow down their attack. The idea worked to a degree.
Battered and bruised, but not beaten. The New Richmond wrestlers are a collective physical wreck after several intense weeks of practice and meets. They earned a week of rest with by winning a Middle Border Conference match at Amery last Thursday, 38-34. This was essentially the battle for second place in the Middle Border Conference standings. With Ellsworth having a stranglehold on the MBC title for more than two decades, the battle for second place becomes its own secondary conference title bout. Tiger coach Mark Neumann rattled off a list of injuries his athletes are dealing with.
It seems like a week can't go by without the New Richmond girls hockey team carrying a game into overtime. Last week the Tigers had two games go into overtime and the Orange and Black came out winners in both of those games. Last Tuesday the Tigers scored an overtime win against Black River Falls, with Paige Charland getting the game-winner in the 5-4 victory. On Saturday the Tigers ventured into overtime again.
The Middle Border Conference girls basketball race is wide open and thanks to a drastically improved performance in the second half on Friday, Somerset's girls are one of five teams tied for the conference lead. Somerset knocked off Osceola on Friday 46-42. The Spartans are now one of five teams sharing the lead in the MBC with 2-1 records. Anyone who saw the first half of Friday's game wouldn't have given the Spartans much chance of winning.