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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By playing high-powered defense, the Somerset boys basketball team now has the ability to play competitively with most teams in the area. It is offense that will determine if the Spartans are able to overcome those teams. That was the case in the Spartans' two games last week. The Spartans played a splendid defensive game against Barron last Monday, Dec. 4. The offense played equally well, resulting in the Spartans pulling away for a 49-33 non-conference win over the Barron.
The early showdown for the leadership of the Middle Border Conference went the way of the St. Croix Central girls basketball team on Friday, Dec. 8. The Panthers and Prescott were the only unbeaten teams in the MBC after the first two rounds of games. Central was the team that remained unblemished, beating Prescott 60-53 on the Cardinals' court on Friday.
The trip to Rhinelander was worthwhile for the Western Wisconsin Stars girls hockey team on Saturday, Dec. 9. The Stars had a three-and-one-half hour ride home Saturday, plenty of time to savor their 7-1 victory. The Stars were also on the road the night before, playing at Menomonie, tying the Chippewa Falls-Menomonie cooperative team 1-1.
There may have been rust on the St. Croix Central boys basketball players, but it was a silver rust they would not trade for anything. When the Central boys finally took the court for their opener Friday, Dec. 8 most of the other Middle Border Conference teams already had two or more games under their belts. That included Friday's opponent, Baldwin-Woodville. The Panthers showed some rust in the first half, but shook it off in the second half to beat B-W 67-59.
Shockwaves were sent through the Middle Border Conference by the New Richmond boys basketball team Thursday, Dec. 7. There was an assumption that the Tigers would be a rebuilding team this year. But when the Tigers outgunned Osceola 83-51 on Thursday, it sent the message that the Tigers are much further along in the rebuilding process than opponents might have thought.
Before the season, it was expected that the St. Croix Central wrestling team would be young. But when the team's top returning wrestler is sidelined with an injury and two other top returnees leave the team to concentrate on lifting, it left the Central wrestling team with an incredibly young lineup to start the 2017-18 season.
The Somerset wrestling team has improved considerably. In the Middle Border Conference, the best measure of improvement is facing perennial MBC champion Ellsworth. That's the Spartans' test this Thursday, when they head to Ellsworth for their third MBC match of the season.
The 2017-18 schedule for the New Richmond boys hockey team contains five of the 10 top-ranked teams in the state. And there are also a number of teams at the opposite end of the experience level on the Tigers' schedule. Using those games to get ready for the ranked teams is one of the main challenges for the Tigers this season. The Tigers faced one of their less experienced opponents Tuesday, Dec. 5 when they hosted the co-op team hosted by Eau Claire Regis. The Tigers broke the game open with five goals in the second period, defeating the Ramblers 9-1.
In the early nights of the Middle Border Conference schedule, the Somerset girls basketball team has shown it can compete with most of the MBC teams. Spartan coach Cory Lindenberg is hoping this is just the starting point for the Spartans. Last Tuesday the Spartans won their MBC opener against New Richmond, 49-32. On Friday the Spartans and Osceola played a thriller, with the teams matching points through the final minutes of the action. It was Osceola that came out on top, 55-53.
The coaches in the New Richmond wrestling program insist this is a rebuilding season, but it didn't look that way when when the Tigers wrestled at St. Croix Central Thursday, Dec. 7. The Tigers won 11 of the 14 weight classes in flattening the Panthers, 63-9. The win raises the Tigers' record in the Middle Border Conference to 1-1. The Tigers will be back on their home mat for another MBC match this Thursday, Dec. 14 when they host Prescott. On Saturday, the Tigers will be competing in the River Ridge (Minn.) Invitational.