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 WIAA seeding meeting went about as well as the Somerset hockey team could have hoped. By getting the sixth seed, the Spartans avoid Superior and New Richmond in the first rounds of the tournament. The Spartans start tournament play next Tuesday with a home game against Barron. Barron was the 11th seed in the section, getting the lowest seed after bringing a 3-15 record into the seeding meeting. If the Spartans beat Barron, they will play at Menomonie on Thursday, Feb. 18.
Seven St. Croix Central wrestlers earned All-Dunn-St. Croix Conference honors with their performance in the 2010 Big Rivers Conference/Dunn-St. Croix Conference Wrestling Challenge on Saturday at River Falls High School. The Panthers took nine wrestlers to Saturday's tournament and seven of them ended up getting all-conference honors. To be all-conference, they had to be one of the top two D-SC finishers within their weight class. Central's performance on Saturday was led by sophomore Matt Smith, who was the tournament champion at 152 pounds.
Now that they are into the second time through the Middle Border Conference schedule, Somerset's girls have a better idea of what to expect from their basketball opponents. That showed last Friday when the Spartans went to Prescott and scored a 61-46 win. Somerset coach Kendrick Livers said the coaches and players are also learning what to expect from each other. One of the main things the coaches are expecting is a top grade defensive effort from the Spartans in every game. They got it in Friday's game at Prescott.
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.