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 New Richmond girls basketball team completed one of the most incredible one-year turnarounds in Middle Border Conference history on Friday night. With the Tigers' 47-35 win at Osceola and Somerset's 33-30 victory over Durand, the Tigers were able to win a share of the 2011-12 Middle Border Conference title. Durand plays at Osceola this Thursday. If Osceola could upset Durand, it would give the Tigers the outright MBC title. The Tigers found out about Somerset's victory moments after they had completed their own win.
New Richmond and Superior are building a tradition of meeting in the boys hockey sectional championship game. Those two teams met in the sectional title game for the third straight year on Saturday. Last year New Richmond broke Superior's stronghold on the sectional championship, but this year Superior took the title back, beating New Richmond 3-0 at the Amery Ice Arena. The Tigers finish the season with a 16-10 record. Superior and New Richmond were both taking defense-first attitudes for Saturday's game.
Marcus Malecek completed one of the finest seasons in St. Croix Central wrestling history by earning second place in the 220-pound bracket of the WIAA Division 2 state championship match at the Kohl Center in Madison on Saturday. Malecek finishes the season with a 47-1 record. His only loss came in the state championship match, against defending state champion Riley Delzer of Oconto Falls. Central was also represented at state by Lauden Wood, Adam Lewis, Cody Nyhagen and Kyle Aaby. Malecek won two close matches to reach the championship match.
The four Somerset standout wrestlers have been working toward collective success all season, so it's fitting that all four were able to get their turn on the awards podium at the 2012 WIAA State Wrestling Championships. Somerset junior Gabe Flandrick was the runner-up in a history-making 138-pound Division 2 weight class. Spartan senior Haydon Dvorak took third place at 182 pounds. Junior Bobby LeRoy finished in fifth place and senior Austin Bushinger was a sixth place finisher. Flandrick's mission for two years has been to measure himself against Cuba City Jared Donar.
New Richmond's Abe Anderson and Shane Blackman weren't able to win any of their matches at the 2012 WIAA State Wrestling Championships last weekend. New Richmond coach Mark Neumann said both Tiger wrestlers had tough draws at state. He said technically, the New Richmond wrestlers were just as good as their opponents.
As the second seed in the WIAA sectional bracket, there are high expectations for the Somerset boys basketball team in this year's playoffs. The play of the Spartans last week didn't do much to instill faith in the team for the playoffs. The Spartans ended the regular season last Thursday with a 46-41 loss at Durand. That came two nights after the Spartans barely escaped a St. Croix Falls team that has won just twice this season, 58-52. The loss to Durand leaves the Spartans with a 7-7 final record in the Middle Border Conference, where they place fifth.
Ever since the Somerset girls basketball team lost to Durand in the first round of Middle Border Conference play, the Spartans were targeting last Friday's rematch with the Panthers. Somerset was hoping Friday's game would give them a chance to compete for the MBC title, but a recent swoon took them out of competition for a conference title. The Spartans still had a major impact on the final conference championship outcome. The Spartans knocked off Durand 33-30 on Friday, making it possible for New Richmond to win a share of the 2011-12 conference title.
For three quarters, the St. Croix Central boys basketball team was the equal of Spring Valley. In the fourth quarter, fouls and turnovers weighed down the Panthers, causing them to tail off in a 59-46 loss at Spring Valley last Thursday. Central finishes the regular season with a 2-20 record. The Panthers finished with a 2-14 record in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. The Panthers were scheduled to begin WIAA Division 3 tournament action on Tuesday with a game at Unity. The winner of Tuesday's game will play again on Friday at Barron. The Bears are the third seed in the sectional bracket.
With one win all season, you might think the St. Croix Central girls basketball team is looking forward to the end of season. Central coach Luke Fritsche said that isn't so. The Panthers have been playing markedly better at the end of the season, nearly pulling off a major upset on Friday. The Panthers rallied back from a 17-point halftime deficit at Elmwood on Friday, losing to the Raiders 47-40. Elmwood has a 14-7 record and had recently notched wins against top Dunn-St.
The New Richmond boys have become the first Middle Border Conference team to win conference boys basketball championships in five straight seasons. The Tigers completed that feat on Thursday with a 50-29 win over Osceola. New Richmond finishes tied with Baldwin-Woodville for the 2011-12 MBC championship. Both teams finish with 11-3 records. B-W locked up its share of the title with a 46-36 win over Ellsworth on Thursday. New Richmond went relatively unchallenged by the young Osceola team on Thursday, which was the Senior Night game for the Tigers.