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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There have been questions raised on whether the New Richmond boys basketball team could win the big game. Those doubters should be silenced after the Tigers won the outright Middle Border Conference championship with a 46-43 win over Osceola last Friday. This was a winner-takes-all game, with the two teams tied for the conference lead entering the final game of the season. There was a great deal of emotion in the air for Friday's game. This was the final MBC game in the NRHS gym and a huge crowd stuffed its way into the gym.
The last time the St. Croix Central name stood alone as conference boys basketball champions was the 1969-70 season. Forty years later, Central has another conference championship to savor. The Panthers defeated Boyceville 65-53 last Tuesday, to give the Panthers the Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship for the 2009-10 season. The Panthers finish the conference season with a 14-2 record. They end the regular season with a 20-2 record. The 20 wins is the second highest total in team history.
The roadblock that continues to stop the New Richmond boys hockey team from reaching the WIAA state tournament resides in Superior. The Tigers went to Superior on Saturday to play in another sectional final. For the third straight year, Superior ended the Tigers' season, winning the sectional championship game 6-3 at Wessman Arena at UW-Superior. New Richmond finishes the 2009-10 season with a 17-8-1 record. The Tigers thought they were ready this year to take down Superior. This will be the seventh straight year that Superior has played in the state tournament.
Wrestling fans with an eye for the future kept close tabs on the Division 2 130-pound bracket at the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships in Madison last week. Somerset's Gabe Flandrick was one of three standout freshmen who were part of the D2 130-pound field. Flandrick captured fourth place in the state tournament, capping one of the most successful seasons in Somerset wrestling history. Flandrick finishes the season with a 40-6 record.
St. Croix wrestlers Zack Gillis and Matt Smith both earned sixth place medals at the 2010 WIAA Division 3 State Wrestling Championships this weekend. They took drastically difference courses to their sixth place finish. Gillis' finish came like a brick wall. Smith's finish is a big step forward in a career that's on the rise. Gillis was hoping to improve on his sixth place finish at state a year ago. He was well on his way to making that plan come true.
Perfect weather conditions on Saturday helped the sixth annual Bass Lake Ice Fishing Contest draw a huge crowd of entries. The contest attracted 1,300 adult entries and 175 youth entries for the tournament. Organizers were fearing the entry numbers might be down this year, but the totals were consistent with those from 2009. The tournament winner was Dave Green of New Richmond, who took home the top prize, a 2010 Dodge half-ton truck. He won the tournament with a 1 pound, 9 ounce northern, the only northern registered in the tournament. All 50 prizes in the adult tournament were awarded.
The Somerset boys basketball team could easily be viewed this season as the team that never gave up. And for their persistence, the Spartans were rewarded in their final home game of the season last Friday. The Spartans upset Durand 54-50 in overtime on Friday for Somerset's third win in Middle Border Conference play this season. The win gives the Spartans a 3-11 record in the final MBC standings. Durand finished the season with a 6-8 MBC record. The Spartans played well at both ends of the court to achieve the upset. The Spartans have embraced their outside shooting ability.
In terms of point differential, the New Richmond girls basketball team achieved the biggest surprise of the Middle Border Conference season last Tuesday. When the Tigers faced Ellsworth in the opening round of MBC play, Ellsworth throttled the Tigers 70-34. Fast forward four weeks. The Tigers, now healthy, put on a defensive showcase at Ellsworth last Tuesday. The Tigers beat the Panthers 48-33 for New Richmond's third straight win. You might think that the early-season loss to Ellsworth was used as motivation by the Tigers last week.
The St. Croix Central girls basketball team has earned the top seed in its Division 3 regional tournament bracket. The Panthers began this week with an 11-8 record. That ranks as the best record among the eight teams in the region. Central begins its tournament season with a home game next Tuesday against Spring Valley, which has a 4-17 record. That game will be played at 7 p.m.
The New Richmond boys made their final varsity game in the New Richmond High School gym a success by beating Osceola 40-31 in the second round of Division 2 regionals on Thursday night. With the win New Richmond advances to the regional final, which will be played at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Rice Lake High School. The Tigers' opponent in the regional final will be Northwestern, which beat Amery 63-54 tonight. Tickets for Saturday's game are available from the New Richmond High School office throughout the day Friday. There will not be tickets available in Rice Lake.