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 schedule was imposing for the New Richmond girls basketball team last week. The Tigers had to face Osceola and Durand, the top two teams in the conference standings. For the first half of both games, the Tigers stuck right with the conference leaders. But in the second half the Tigers got struck by turnovers and both games slipped away from them. The Tigers lost to Osceola 55-32 and to Durand 43-31. Against Osceola the Tigers jumped out to a 12-6 lead. The Tigers had set their defense to take away powerful Chieftain center Paige Garriga. That worked in the first quarter.
St. Croix Central's boys were able to avenge their only loss of the season on Monday night. But for most of the game, it appeared that Elk Mound was conference leader, not the Panthers. Central rallied from a 13-point third quarter deficit to send Monday's game into overtime. After Elk Mound hit a three-pointer to start the overtime, the Panthers used the shooting of their guards to finish off a 77-73 win over the Mounders. The win gives the Panthers a two-game lead in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings, with three rounds left to play.
The New Richmond girls hockey team is the seventh team in the WIAA sectional bracket and you can bet most teams are viewing the Tigers as a dangerous lower seeded team. The Tigers are 4-11-3 but teams around the area know that record is deceiving. The Tigers have played six overtimes and only three of their losses have been by more than two goals. The season has been filled with bad luck and bad breaks for the Tigers.
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.