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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It was a deja vu the St. Croix Central basketball team never wanted to experience. For the second straight year, the Panthers' season came to an end when they were upset in a WIAA Division 3 regional final game played at Amery. This year the Panthers, the top seed in the region, were defeated by Webster 53-41 on Saturday. Last year the Panthers were knocked off by Prescott in the regional final, under painfully similar circumstances. Webster began Saturday's game by putting extreme pressure on the Panther guards and the Panthers never recovered. Webster jumped out to an 11-4 lead.
New Richmond senior Jake Bellows and junior Zach Kier and Somerset senior Mitchel Benson were named as honorable mention selections when the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association (WHCA) All-State boys high school team was announced over the weekend. Bellows is listed at 5 feet, 8 inches tall on the Tiger roster and that might be generous. Height isn't Bellows' strong suit, but heart is. "He's a little guy, but the kids respect his work ethic," said New Richmond coach Adam Swanda.
Fans who attended the final varsity basketball game in the New Richmond High School gym last Friday saw one highly entertaining half of basketball. The New Richmond and Osceola girls waged a highly paced, energetic first half, with Osceola barely hanging on to a 30-27 lead at halftime. In the second half Osceola was able to continue its offensive success, while the Tigers' offense bogged down. Osceola finished the night with a 53-37 win. New Richmond finished the regular season with a 6-16 record.
The St. Croix Central girls sent shockwaves through the Dunn-St. Croix Conference last Friday when they cost Boyceville a share of the D-SC basketball championship. The Panthers went to Boyceville and stunned the Bulldogs, 50-44. If Boyceville had won, the Bulldogs would have shared the D-SC championship with Colfax. Instead, Central earned its 10th conference win of the season, to move into a tie for fourth place in the final D-SC standings. Central was mentally ready for this game and started it on the attack.
There have been questions raised on whether the New Richmond boys basketball team could win the big game. Those doubters should be silenced after the Tigers won the outright Middle Border Conference championship with a 46-43 win over Osceola last Friday. This was a winner-takes-all game, with the two teams tied for the conference lead entering the final game of the season. There was a great deal of emotion in the air for Friday's game. This was the final MBC game in the NRHS gym and a huge crowd stuffed its way into the gym.
The last time the St. Croix Central name stood alone as conference boys basketball champions was the 1969-70 season. Forty years later, Central has another conference championship to savor. The Panthers defeated Boyceville 65-53 last Tuesday, to give the Panthers the Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship for the 2009-10 season. The Panthers finish the conference season with a 14-2 record. They end the regular season with a 20-2 record. The 20 wins is the second highest total in team history.
The roadblock that continues to stop the New Richmond boys hockey team from reaching the WIAA state tournament resides in Superior. The Tigers went to Superior on Saturday to play in another sectional final. For the third straight year, Superior ended the Tigers' season, winning the sectional championship game 6-3 at Wessman Arena at UW-Superior. New Richmond finishes the 2009-10 season with a 17-8-1 record. The Tigers thought they were ready this year to take down Superior. This will be the seventh straight year that Superior has played in the state tournament.
Wrestling fans with an eye for the future kept close tabs on the Division 2 130-pound bracket at the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships in Madison last week. Somerset's Gabe Flandrick was one of three standout freshmen who were part of the D2 130-pound field. Flandrick captured fourth place in the state tournament, capping one of the most successful seasons in Somerset wrestling history. Flandrick finishes the season with a 40-6 record.
St. Croix wrestlers Zack Gillis and Matt Smith both earned sixth place medals at the 2010 WIAA Division 3 State Wrestling Championships this weekend. They took drastically difference courses to their sixth place finish. Gillis' finish came like a brick wall. Smith's finish is a big step forward in a career that's on the rise. Gillis was hoping to improve on his sixth place finish at state a year ago. He was well on his way to making that plan come true.
Perfect weather conditions on Saturday helped the sixth annual Bass Lake Ice Fishing Contest draw a huge crowd of entries. The contest attracted 1,300 adult entries and 175 youth entries for the tournament. Organizers were fearing the entry numbers might be down this year, but the totals were consistent with those from 2009. The tournament winner was Dave Green of New Richmond, who took home the top prize, a 2010 Dodge half-ton truck. He won the tournament with a 1 pound, 9 ounce northern, the only northern registered in the tournament. All 50 prizes in the adult tournament were awarded.