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 showdown for the Middle Border Conference wrestling lead showed that the New Richmond wrestling team still has a ways to go before it can compete with reigning MBC champion Ellsworth. Ellsworth has won the last five MBC titles and the Panthers are well on their way to the sixth straight title after beating New Richmond 48-18 last Thursday. Both teams entered the match with 5-0 conference records. "I think a lot of people thought we'd match up well against Ellsworth," said Tiger coach Mark Neumann.
The sources of points continue to change for the New Richmond boys basketball team, but the defense remains a constant for the Tigers. As in constantly tough. The Tigers scored a pair of Middle Border Conference wins last week, with the defense giving both opponents major problems. Last Tuesday the Tigers scored a 64-48 win at Ellsworth. That was followed by a 54-49 homecourt win over Amery on Thursday. The game at Ellsworth was the first in two weeks for the Tigers.
It would have been easy for the New Richmond girls hockey team to fold after crushing losses to River Falls and Eau Claire. Instead, the Tigers recommitted to their team philosophy and played some of their best hockey of the season last week. Last Thursday the Tigers had the biggest offensive production of their season in crushing Menomonie 9-1. On Friday the Tigers went to Viroqua and rallied from a 2-0 third period deficit to win 4-3. The Menomonie game was critical to the Tigers' seeding chances. The Tigers beat Menomonie 6-5 the first time they met.
The New Richmond boys hockey team played one of its best periods to start out last Thursday's game against Somerset. And the Tigers never took their foot off the accelerator. They outshot Somerset 53-20 to earn a 4-1 victory. The win puts the Tigers at 2-1 in the Middle Border Conference. Their loss came in their first meeting with Somerset. They can continue their reign as the only MBC hockey champion if they can win their final three conference games. Two of those games come this week. The Tigers play at home on Thursday against Amery.
Missed chances were the difference for the New Richmond boys hockey team in a 3-0 home ice loss to Rice Lake last Tuesday. The Tigers gave every indication that they could skate with the Warriors, one of the top teams in the Big Rivers Conference. In the early stages of the game, the Tigers had an overwhelming edge in every aspect of the game except scoring. The Tigers took the first 10 shots of the game.
The comeback made by the New Richmond girls basketball team might not have put a scare into the Amery Warriors, but it sure got their attention. After trailing by as many as 23 points in the third quarter, the Tigers suddenly looked like the University of Connecticut women's team. They outscored Amery 16-2 in the fourth quarter, cutting Amery's final winning margin to 41-36. The Tigers gave a quality defensive effort throughout Saturday's game. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Tigers found they could play at the same level on offense.
The rust of missing one game and two practices occasionally showed in the play of the Somerset girls basketball team on Monday night. The Spartans also showed that when it comes down to crunch time, they have the ability to pull out a close game. Boyceville made a charge late in the game, but the Spartans were able to withstand that attempt to earn a 60-54 non-conference win. Missing last Thursday's game and two practices due to the cold weather last week affected the Spartans' consistency more than anything.
The Somerset boys basketball team led for only 35 seconds in last Tuesday's game at Ellsworth, but it was the most important 35 seconds. Luke Buerkley's three-pointer with 35 seconds left in the game put Somerset in front 58-56. The Spartans came up with some big defensive pressure in those final seconds, preserving the 58-56 win at Ellsworth. With the win the Spartans climb to 2-2 in the Middle Border Conference standings. Tuesday's game did not start well for the Spartans.
The times are changing for the New Richmond boys hockey team. At the beginning of the season the Tigers couldn't find a way to win a game. Now they are winning when they aren't at the top of their game. The Tigers earned their first Middle Border Conference win of the season when they won at Amery last Tuesday, 6-2. The Tigers are now 1-1 in the MBC and 4-5 overall after an 0-4 start. The first period of Thursday's game was not one of the Tigers' best. By the end of the period Amery held a 2-0 lead.
Defense and discipline were the difference as the New Richmond boys basketball team was able to defeat Baldwin-Woodville by a 55-42 final score last Tuesday. With the win the Tigers remain in second place in the Middle Border Conference standings with a 3-1 record. Tuesday's game was closer than the final score would lead you to believe. B-W led for much of the first half, due to the fast start of Cody Ninneman. He scored 10 points in the first half as the Blackhawks built a 19-14 lead early in the second quarter. That's when the Tigers turned up their defensive intensity.