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 Menomonie girls basketball team went through growing pains the past few years and is now a formidable squad. The New Richmond girls hope to use that blueprint for the same success. The Tigers were able to play evenly through much of the first half when the two teams met on the Tigers’ home court last Tuesday. But Menomonie’s stable of shooters took charge of the game late in the first half, pulling away in the second half for a 71-44 win over the Tigers.
It seems like, every week, there’s a state-ranked team on the schedule for the Western Wisconsin Stars. Last week was different. Last week, there were two state-ranked teams on the Stars’ schedule. The Stars’ week started with a trip to Hayward. The Stars hosted Eau Claire-Altoona on Thursday. Eau Claire-Altoona was fourth in the girls hockey Wisconsin state rankings last week with Hayward ranked fifth.
After the Osceola Invitational was cancelled, the St. Croix Central wrestling team had a multi-team opening on its schedule. That opening was filled when several teams banded together to hold a small meet at River Falls last Tuesday. The meet ended up pitting Central against two formidable teams, Stillwater and River Falls. The Panthers lost by more than 50 points in both matchups.
Another signature win was posted by the St. Croix Central girls basketball team last Thursday. The Panthers went to Durand and knocked off the unbeaten host team, 54-45. Central ends the 2016 portion of the schedule with a 7-2 record. The Panthers are 4-0 in the Middle Border Conference, where they stand alone at the top of the standings. The win at Durand came two nights after the Panthers lost a non-conference game at Boyceville, 58-53.
When Ben Lamb was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2014, he decided to take the advice he’d given many times to his St. Croix Central athletes and students. “I coach kids to never quit. There’s always the chance of fighting through,” Lamb said during a recent interview. “Quitting is not an option. You fight until you can’t fight any more.”
With just one senior taking the ice, the New Richmond boys hockey team played an extremely young lineup in last Thursday’s Middle Border Conference showdown with Somerset. But it was the young Tigers who handled the pressure of a rivalry game with calmness and focus. That poise carried the Tigers to a 2-1 victory over the Spartans. The win leaves New Richmond tied with Baldwin-Woodville for the MBC lead with 3-0 records, while Somerset slides to 2-1. The Tigers are 4-2 for the season following Thursday’s win.
Defense, rebounding and balanced scoring have been a winning formula for the New Richmond boys basketball program for years. The 2016-17 Tigers finally found the right combination of those skills, producing their first win of the season in a key Middle Border Conference game last Tuesday. The Tigers fell behind 11-1, then showed a steely resolution in marching back to defeat Ellsworth, 55-46. The Tigers are now one of four MBC teams tied for fourth in the conference standings with a 1-2 record.
Last Thursday’s game was the first time the St. Croix Central girls basketball team had the opportunity to take possession of the sole Middle Border Conference standings lead since joining the conference. The Panthers played like it too. They swarmed all over the New Richmond girls, building a 48-9 lead by halftime. From there the Panthers rolled to a 65-30 win. Central and New Richmond went into Thursday’s game tied for the MBC lead with 3-0 records. By winning, the Panthers will have the holiday break to enjoy their perch at the top of the MBC standings.
With all 12 wrestlers recording at least one win, the New Richmond wrestling team was able to earn second place among eight teams competing at a tournament at Trinity School at River Ridge on Saturday. The tournament was impacted by Saturday’s Arctic weather, with four teams pulling out of what was originally a 12-team field. The Tigers were impacted too, with two wrestlers unable to get to the school for the bus trip into Minnesota.
With the postponement of Friday’s game at New Richmond, the St. Croix Central basketball team is scheduled to go more than three weeks without facing another Middle Border Conference opponent. Which could work in the Panthers’ favor.