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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Through incredible grief, the St. Croix Central girls basketball team rose up to play an incredible game in their opening game in the WIAA Division 3 regional tournament on Friday. Twenty-four hours later, the Panthers had to play again. Physically and emotionally spent, the Panthers couldn't repeat Friday's effort. On Saturday, the Panthers were knocked out of the WIAA playoffs by Bloomer, 50-38. The Panthers finish the season with a 21-3 record.
The Somerset boys basketball team got a clear indication that it has improved this season when the Spartans hosted Amery last Monday. Somerset lost in double-overtime earlier this season when the Spartans played at Amery. In Monday's game, the Spartans took a lead in the first half and they maintained a comfortable cushion to defeat the Warriors, 52-39. The Spartans finished their regular season schedule last Thursday with a game at Ellsworth, losing to the Panthers 83-57.
The second half of the season has gone much more like the New Richmond boys basketball team had hoped when the season began.
WIAA boys basketball regional tournament action begins around the state on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Prescott was the lone area team that reached the WIAA boys state championships last winter, with the Cardinals losing in the Division 3 state championship game. There are a number of western Wisconsin teams with the capabilities of making a strong charge to the state tournament. Here are previews of the area regional tournament bracket in each division.
It was the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows at St. Croix Central on Saturday night. St. Croix Central junior Ryan Larson became a state champion, winning the 195-pound Division 2 state championship at the 2018 WIAA state championships at the Kohl Center in Madison. Larson won an incredibly intense match, scoring a pin 54 seconds into overtime to defeat Prairie du Chien senior Stephen Ronnfeldt.
Friday night was very good for St. Croix Central athletics. Panther junior Ryan Larson advanced to the WIAA Division 2 state championship match and the St. Croix Central girls basketball team advanced to the Division 3 regional championship game.
The four local wrestlers competing at the WIAA State Individual Championships are all scheduled to be in action Friday morning. New Richmond's Nathan Fehlen was defeated in the opening round of the Division 1 160 pound bracket on Thursday. Fehlen earned a wrestleback in the bracket. Fehlen (28-10) will face Cooper Schlosser of West Bend East (41-7) in the opening round of wrestlebacks in the 10 a.m. session on Friday.
The smiles were huge as members of the St. Croix Central girls basketball team got to take their turn, cutting down a piece of the net last Thursday. The Panthers were told they would get the chance to cut down the net if they finished as undefeated champions of the Middle Border Conference. And that's just what they did, thrilling a large Senior Night home crowd with a 66-47 win over New Richmond. With the win, the Panthers finish with a 14-0 record in the MBC and it raised their overall record to 20-2.
The 2018 WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships begin Thursday afternoon in Madison and western Wisconsin will be well represented in the tournament. The Middle Border Conference is sending 17 wrestlers to the state meet and the Big Rivers Conference has 10 wrestlers who will be competing. Both conferences have strong reputations around the state and there should be plenty of area wrestlers who bring home medals from this weekend’s action.
When you are 20 games into a season, there are no surprises. Opponents have you so well scouted, that they know every player and every scheme teams run. These are the games where it takes mental toughness to grind out wins. And that's what the St. Croix Central boys basketball team did in both of its Middle Border Conference games last week.