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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In both rounds of Middle Border Conference play this season, the Somerset boys basketball team has given MBC co-leader Amery a solid battle. In both instances, Amery's height advantage proved to be too much for the Spartans. When the teams met last Thursday at Somerset in the Spartans' final home game of the season, Amery prevailed 53-40. The Spartans are now 2-10 in MBC games and 4-16 overall. The Spartans finish the regular season with a conference game at Durand. Next Tuesday the WIAA boys basketball playoffs begin and the Spartans are in an unenviable position.
The losses came like a string of stunning punches. The New Richmond wrestling team had seven wrestlers qualify for the WIAA Division 1 sectional tournament in Merrill on Saturday. All seven of the Tigers were defeated in their opening match at the sectional, ending their day and sending the Tigers home in a state of shock. Tiger coach Mark Neumann said there were matches the Tigers should have won.
Colfax knocked off the St. Croix Central boys basketball team on Friday, snapping the Panthers' 12-game winning streak. Central's boys had already earned a share of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship, but a win over the Vikings would have given Central its first outright conference title since the 1971-72 season. The loss left Central with one chance to get the outright championship. They were scheduled to play at home on Tuesday against Boyceville.
Somerset's hockey team couldn't capitalize on early scoring chances in its WIAA regional final game at Menomonie last Thursday. The Spartans scored the only goal of the first period and had several other golden scoring chances that they failed to put in the net. Those missed chances were costly, with Menomonie coming on late to beat the Spartans 3-1. Somerset ends the 2009-10 season with a 14-11 record. Somerset was the sixth seed in the sectional bracket and Menomonie was the third seed. Both teams brought an aggressive approach to the game.
No crystal ball was needed for the St. Croix Central girls basketball team to see its future. All it took was a one-sided victory. The Panthers rolled over winless Plum City by a 64-23 score on Thursday. The win raises the Panthers' season record to 10-7. They remain locked in a battle for third place in the conference standings. Central and Elk Mound ended last week with 8-5 records, one-half game behind Mondovi's 9-5 mark. As a team, the Panthers set a goal for Thursday's game of getting early momentum and maintaining a constant level of intensity throughout the game.
New Richmond's girls hockey team wasn't able to pull off an upset in the opening round of the WIAA tournaments, but the Tigers gave it their best effort. The seventh-seeded Tigers went to Hudson last Thursday and for more than half the game, the Tigers put up an excellent fight against the Raiders. It wasn't until late in the second period that the second-seeded Raiders pulled away from the Tigers for a 5-1 win. In the first period the Tigers may have been the better team in the game.
After Ellsworth delivered the worst beating inflicted on the Somerset girls basketball team of the 2009-10 season last Tuesday, Spartan coach Kendrick Livers made his team take a long look at the scoreboard following the game. He wanted the team to remember the sting of the 67-39 loss and the way the Ellsworth fans were reveling in beating the Spartans. The loss struck a nerve amongst the Spartans. They came back with a momentous effort on Friday, upsetting Osceola 44-41.
Former New Richmond varsity baseball coach John Ball didn't stay out of coaching for long. Ball was contacted by four baseball organizations to become part of their coaching staff after removing his name from consideration for the Tiger varsity position. Ball decided to become the assistant varsity coach for the Somerset baseball program. Somerset athletic director Brad Nemec said he pursued Ball to fill the assistant coach position. "We approached John and at first he said he wanted time to think about it," Nemec said. Ball met several times with Somerset varsity coach Brandon Kadlec.
Children at the Somerset Elementary School are taught to address adults as "Mr.," "Miss" or "Mrs." There is one exception. To the 700 students who sometimes need a bandage, a pat on the head or a safe place to hide from the world for a few moments, they turn to "Chuck." Chuck Ennis will be retiring this spring after 15 years of serving as the health care provider at the elementary school. This will be the second retirement for Ennis.
It will be New Richmond and Superior battling in the WIAA boys hockey sectional championship game this Saturday. New Richmond advanced to the championship game with a 2-1 win over Menomonie on Tuesday night. Superior reached the championship game by scoring in the fifth overtime period to beat River Falls 2-1 on Tuesday. The sectional championship game will played at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Wessman Arena in Superior. Tickets for the sectional championship game will be on sale at the New Richmond High School office during school hours on Thursday and through noon on Friday morning.