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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This is unaccustomed territory for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team. The Panthers have now lost five straight games, something that the team hasn't suffered through in a decade. The latest losses came last week, when the Panthers lost to Elmwood and Spring Valley. The losses came in games with vastly different styles. Last Tuesday the Panthers lost in an offensive shootout with Elmwood, 79-63. Friday's game with Spring Valley took on much more of a defensive tone, with the Cards winning 47-35. Timing hasn't been working well for the Panthers either.
Brad Nemec isn't retiring. He prefers to think of it as graduating. For someone who has spent his life in education, that's fitting. Last Thursday was Nemec's final day as athletic director for the Somerset School District. He's held that title for 25 years and he's spent 33 years in education. Nemec's final day was capped by a retirement party at General Sam's where throngs of people stopped by to share stories and give their best wishes. Nemec's main title has been athletic director, but he's served in many roles in the school district and community through the years.
The biggest upset of the Middle Border Conference season thus far was pulled off by the New Richmond girls basketball team. The Tiger girls used a ferocious defensive effort to stun Prescott last Thursday, 43-35. Prescott had brought an 8-2 overall record into the game, while the Tigers were 2-4 at that point. The win, combined with the Tigers' win over Baldwin-Woodville last Tuesday, raised the Tigers to 2-1 in the conference standings. From the first seconds of the game the Tigers' intent was clear.
Amery tried to do it with defense. No team has been able to stop the New Richmond boys basketball team thus far in the 2010-11 season. So when the Tigers went to Amery last Friday, they met a Warrior team that was going to try to force the Tigers to slow down their attack. The idea worked to a degree.
Battered and bruised, but not beaten. The New Richmond wrestlers are a collective physical wreck after several intense weeks of practice and meets. They earned a week of rest with by winning a Middle Border Conference match at Amery last Thursday, 38-34. This was essentially the battle for second place in the Middle Border Conference standings. With Ellsworth having a stranglehold on the MBC title for more than two decades, the battle for second place becomes its own secondary conference title bout. Tiger coach Mark Neumann rattled off a list of injuries his athletes are dealing with.
It seems like a week can't go by without the New Richmond girls hockey team carrying a game into overtime. Last week the Tigers had two games go into overtime and the Orange and Black came out winners in both of those games. Last Tuesday the Tigers scored an overtime win against Black River Falls, with Paige Charland getting the game-winner in the 5-4 victory. On Saturday the Tigers ventured into overtime again.
The Middle Border Conference girls basketball race is wide open and thanks to a drastically improved performance in the second half on Friday, Somerset's girls are one of five teams tied for the conference lead. Somerset knocked off Osceola on Friday 46-42. The Spartans are now one of five teams sharing the lead in the MBC with 2-1 records. Anyone who saw the first half of Friday's game wouldn't have given the Spartans much chance of winning.
The Somerset boys hockey team played five strong periods in its two games in the Hayward Invitational over the weekend. That earned the Spartans third place in the tournament. In the third place game the Spartans tore through Hayward, whipping the Hurricanes 6-1. The one period that hurt the Spartans came in the opening round of the tournament on Friday. The Spartans had played a scoreless opening period against Rice Lake. Nobody would have expected that a nine-goal period was minutes away.
A week off between games was a magic elixir for the New Richmond boys hockey team. The Tigers showed spring in their step and carried energy late into the game when they returned to the ice on Thursday. That resulted in the Tigers scoring a 5-0 win at Como Park in St. Paul. The energy level showed by the Tigers in Thursday's game is best reflected in the shots on goal totals. The Tigers put 42 shots on goal, compared to six for Como Park. Coach Adam Swanda said the players clearly had more energy for this game.
A critical showdown with Boyceville awaits the St. Croix Central girls basketball team this Thursday. The Panthers get to host Thursday's game, which will cap the most difficult stretch the Panthers have faced in their schedule this season. Central and Boyceville are currently tied in third place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings with 4-2 records. Mondovi and Colfax, who are both unbeaten in conference play, stand above them. Central's girls are currently 6-5 overall.