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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It was a busy Tuesday night for local sports, with important games being played in basketball and hockey, while the Middle Border Conference wrestling dual meet season was also completed.
The New Richmond girls basketball team pulled out one victory with a strong second half performance last week and nearly pulled off another win with a second half comeback. The Tigers earned their first win of 2018 on Friday when they won at home against Ellsworth, 45-36. When the Tigers played at Baldwin-Woodville last Tuesday, the Tigers lost 37-35. In that game, the Tigers trailed by double digits in the second half, before making an inspired comeback in the final minutes of the game.
Nobody saw it coming. Least of all, the St. Croix Central boys basketball team. The Panthers led at halftime, 45-39, in their Middle Border Conference game at Ellsworth last Thursday, Jan. 25.
Ninety-one points. No Somerset varsity basketball team, boys or girls, has ever reached that lofty point total. Until now. The Somerset girls basketball team put together one of the best shooting performances in school history on Friday, Jan. 26, remaining unstoppable from start to finish in winning at Prescott, 91-58. The Spartans set a program record by hitting 18 three-pointers in the game. They finished 18-27 from behind the three-point arc. All five Spartan starters scored in double figures, the second time that's been accomplished this season.
A difficult week for the New Richmond boys basketball team began with a lineup alteration and resulted in losses to a pair of talented opponents. The week started with a 75-40 loss at Chippewa Falls Tuesday, Jan. 23. On Thursday, the Tigers hosted Middle Border Conference-leading Prescott. The Tigers couldn't match Prescott's firepower, losing 69-43.
Going into its biggest game of the season, the New Richmond boys hockey team could have filled a wing of Westfields Hospital with all the illness and injuries the team was dealing with. Undaunted, the Tigers put together an incredible effort last Tuesday, playing at undefeated Hudson, with the top seed in the WIAA sectional bracket at stake. Hudson scored with 5:30 left in the game to defeat the Tigers, 3-2.
The New Richmond, Somerset and St. Croix Central dance teams have all qualified to compete at the state level. The Wisconsin Association of Cheer/Pom Coaches will be holding the 2018 state championships this Saturday at the La Crosse Civic Center in La Crosse. The three local teams advanced to state with their performances at the WACPC regional meet held last Saturday at Wausau East High School.
The Western Wisconsin Stars didn't feel as if they'd played their best game when they played at Onalaska last week. Thankfully, they get another shot at Onalaska this Saturday. In one of the quirks in the schedule, the two games between the Stars and Onalaska this season are 11 days apart. Onalaska won when the teams played on the Hilltoppers' home ice, 4-2, last Tuesday. This Saturday's game will be played on the Stars' home ice in Somerset at 1 p.m. The Stars also have a game scheduled for next Tuesday, when they face Holy Angels at the Richfield (Minn.) Ice Arena.
Thursday's game between the New Richmond and Hudson boys hockey teams likely decided which team will get the top seed in the WIAA sectional tournament bracket. And both teams came up with a big game effort, playing with an incredible amount of intensity. New Richmond took an early 2-0 lead, but Hudson tied the score early in the second period.
Since Christmas, winning games has become difficult for the Somerset boys basketball team. The Spartans reached the holiday with a 4-4 record, but have gone 0-6 since the holiday break. Last week the Spartans lost a pair of Middle Border Conference games, against St. Croix Central and New Richmond.