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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For a half on Thursday night, the Somerset boys basketball team was equal to the Middle Border Conference leader. New Richmond leads the MBC, but the Tigers were in for more of a battle than they were expecting when they came to Somerset on Thursday. The Spartans trailed 25-24 at the end of the first half and tied the scored briefly early in the third quarter. New Richmond then went on a 19-0 run to pull away from the Spartans, 58-36. New Richmond's team is much taller and far more experienced than the Spartans boys.
With the Glenwood City doing all it could to blanket St. Croix Central leading scorer Sarah Hawkins, the rest of the Panther starting lineup stepped in the second half of last Thursday's game. The Panthers trailed 23-21 at halftime. In the second half the Panthers' scoring balance rose up, resulting in a 49-36 win for Central. The win moves the Panthers up to 6-3 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings, where they remain alone in third place. The offensive resurgence was half of how Central turned the game around in the second half. Just as important was a strong defensive effort.
The win in the final Middle Border Conference dual match of the season shows how far Somerset's young wrestlers have advanced in the 2009-10 season. Somerset coach Mitch Flandrick said he wasn't expecting the Spartans to win the dual meet at Baldwin-Woodville last Thursday.
There were some rough waters the New Richmond boys hockey team had to navigate through last week. But they survived, ending the week with a critical win that makes them the favorite to get the second seed in the WIAA sectional tournament bracket. That win came on Saturday night, when the Tigers went to River Falls and won in overtime, 4-3. Both teams knew this game was a battle for the second seed in the sectional and it showed in the end-to-end intensity displayed by both teams. The game was finally decided 2:38 into the overtime.
Just when it seemed the New Richmond boys basketball team was at its defensive best, the Tigers took defense to a whole new level last Friday. Durand beat New Richmond in the first Middle Border Conference game of the 2009-10 season. The Tigers made sure there was no chance of that happening again, with a 45-24 defensive gem. Two weeks ago, the Tigers were two games out of the MBC lead. Things change rapidly with the frequency of games in the winter.
Last Wednesday, the WIAA Board of Control voted down the redistricting proposal that would have done away with all of the state high school football conferences. In the wake of the 8-2 vote against the plan, state football programs are awaiting the fallout from the Board of Control's decision. The proposal would have done away with conferences for football and had teams clustered in eight-school brackets based solely on enrollment. While some schools applauded the proposal more schools vehemently argued against it.
Spring Valley looked nothing like a winless team when the St. Croix Central boys had to fend off a spirited effort from the Cardinals last Thursday. Central was never able to pull away from the persistent Spring Valley boys. It took a couple key three-pointers in the fourth quarter from Brian Aldworth and accurate free throw shooting for the Panthers to put a wrap on the 57-45 win. With Elk Mound knocking off Colfax on Thursday, the Panther boys now stand alone at the top of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings with an 8-1 record. The Panthers are 13-1 overall.
While the Somerset boys basketball team continues to work hard, wins have been elusive for the Spartan boys. Last Tuesday the Spartans played well in stretches in a 69-59 loss to Baldwin-Woodville. The Spartans' lack of size and experience was exploited last Friday, when they lost at Prescott 67-38. The 69-59 final against B-W doesn't mean the Spartans were close. They trailed by more than 20 points for parts of the second half.
The smiles told the story. And the smiles were huge. After two overtime losses and several other close calls, the New Richmond girls hockey team needed something good to happen. That something was a visit from the Rochester Century girls team Monday night at the New Richmond Sports Center. The Tigers dominated the game from the opening drop of the puck, scoring a 7-0 win. Even more than the score, the shots on goal showed how thoroughly the Tigers controlled this game.
The final dual meet of the season for the New Richmond wrestling team was a success last Thursday, with the Tigers scoring a 45-33 win at Osceola. This leaves the Tigers with a 5-2 Middle Border Conference record, which is good for third place in the MBC dual meet final standings. The Tigers' overall dual meet record stands at 8-5 for the season. The Tigers were without several wrestlers in the lower weights, but the success in the middle weights more than made up for it. From 125 to 140 pounds the Tigers lodged four straight wins.