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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An 11-point first half on Saturday showed that the Somerset boys basketball team still has plenty of work to do. The Spartans lost to St. Croix Central 51-42 on Saturday. The lead for much of the game circulated in the 20-point range, before the Spartan reserves made a charge in the final three minutes to bring the final margin down to nine points. In the first half the Spartans made four field goals. Three of them came from senior guard Ben Kieckhoefer, who finished with a team-high nine points. "They did a good job of taking us out of our flow," said Spartan coach Brent Larson.
Prescott forfeited six weight classes against Somerset last Thursday, pretty much guaranteeing a Spartan win before a wrestler even stepped on the red mat in the Somerset gym. Those forfeits gave Prescott the flexibility to avoid many of the Spartans' top wrestlers. So it was up to many of the Spartans' younger grapplers to finish the job. They were able to do that, with Somerset earning a 44-30 win.
For more than three quarters, it appeared the St. Croix Central girls basketball team was well on its way to its second win of the season over a Middle Border Conference team. Central's girls took an early lead at Ellsworth last Friday and extended the lead as far as 10 points. In the fourth quarter Ellsworth clamped down full-court pressure that frazzled Central's guards. Ellsworth finished the game with a 20-4 scoring run, coming all the way back to beat Central 49-37. The Panthers were missing starting guard Ashley Adkins for Friday's game at it showed when Ellsworth turned up the heat.
Somerset's Brock Montpetit has made his college decision. Next fall Montpetit will be attending the University of Nebraska-Omaha and will skate with the Mavericks' men's hockey team. Montpetit currently is in his third season with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League. He is the Hawks' team captain and leading scorer this season. Recently he was named as the USHL Offensive Player of the Week. Montpetit will join New Richmond's Kyle Ensign on the UNO roster. Ensign is a sophomore defenseman for the Mavericks. UNO has had success recruiting Wisconsin products.
Winning the season opener isn't something the New Richmond girls basketball team has done since the 2001 season. So when the Tigers rolled to a 39-20 win over Spooner in the 2009-10 opener last Tuesday, it gave the Tigers reason to think that brighter days are ahead. The Tigers are coming off a three-win season. In the win over Spooner, the Tigers showed they have the capabilities of being a well-balanced team. Defense and rebounding were the main planks in the Tigers' theme on Tuesday. Spooner was limited to eight points in the first half.
After a surprisingly slow start, the New Richmond wrestling team picked up the pace and scored a 42-25 win over Baldwin-Woodville in the Tigers' season-opening match last Thursday. The Tigers lost the first four matches that were wrestled Thursday evening. Two of the losses were by young members of the team, but the others were from two of the most experienced members of the team. Tiger coach Mark Neumann expressed surprise that the veteran Tigers would let B-W wrestlers control the hands and the physicality of the matches. The night's action hinged on the 160-pound match.
Look at the foul column if you want to find the main difference between the New Richmond and Hudson boys basketball teams in last Friday's non-conference game. Hudson was called for 28 fouls in Friday's game, while New Richmond was called for 11. The difference in defensive style and effectiveness led the Tigers to a 56-42 win over the Raiders. This is the first win of the season for the Tigers after a loss to Eau Claire North three nights earlier.
Tiger hockey fans: you have reason to be excited. The Tigers played an exhilarating game in their season opener last Tuesday, shocking Hayward with an 8-3 win. Over the weekend the Tigers played in a tournament in Owatonna, Minn. The 4-1 loss to Rochester Lourdes and 6-0 loss to Owatonna might seem to be steep setbacks, but Tiger coach Adam Swanda was quite pleased with the team's showing in the tournament. The win over Hayward showed how much the Tigers have changed since last season.
Tomah's hockey program is at a level that the Somerset boys aspire to reach. The Spartans had their chances to prove they were at Tomah's level in Saturday's game. Tomah had the last word, scoring with just over five minutes left in the game to beat the Spartans 5-4. Tomah went to state in 2007 and has been a successful program for several years. The Spartans had marked this game as a measuring stick of where they stand this season. The Spartans looked good at times during the game and had several noteworthy individual efforts.
Playing under control while playing aggressively is a fine line to walk. The Somerset girls basketball team found that out in their season opener last Friday. The Spartans played an outstanding first half, building up a 39-29 lead over Holy Family Catholic School from Victoria, Minn. In the second half the Spartans got out of control, committing numerous turnovers. Holy Family took the lead and Somerset had to fight its way back to force overtime at 60-60.