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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Spectacular defensive efforts were the difference as the New Richmond boys basketball team knocked off the two Middle Border Conference leaders last week. The Tigers started the week with a 49-32 win at Amery. Amery started the week with a perfect MBC record and a two-game lead on its nearest competition. The defense may have been even better, when the Tigers quieted the high-scoring Osceola boys team, 45-38. This was a make-or-break week for the Tigers. With the two road wins, they now stand one game out of first place.
With wins over Somerset and Eau Claire North last week, the New Richmond boys hockey team has not lost in seven games. The Tigers raised their season record to 10-5-1 with their wins last week. The week started with a 6-2 win at Eau Claire North last Tuesday. The Tigers were visited by Somerset on Thursday. The Tigers dominated the first two periods of play to earn a 4-2 win. The last time the Tigers lost was on Dec. 28 when they were beaten their opening game in the Rochester tournament to Rochester John Marshall, 2-1.
Two New Richmond High School powerlifters have qualified to compete at the state level. Five other Tiger lifters will have a chance to qualify for state in another meet that will be held at the end of February. Qualifying for state are Bryan Greene and Derek Briese. Greene qualified for state in the 220-pound class and Briese qualified in the 132-pound class. They qualified for state at a meet held at Osceola on Jan. 16. Greene qualified for state by having lifts totalling 1,135 pounds.
The battle for second place in the Middle Border Conference wrestling standings went down to the final match. New Richmond and Amery put on an excellent show last Thursday, with Amery winning the final match to escape with a 36-32 victory. This was New Richmond's second loss in MBC dual matches. Amery is 5-1 in the MBC standings, trailing only unbeaten Ellsworth. Amery is ranked ninth in the state in Division 2. Tiger coach Mark Neumann said the Tigers were definite underdogs going into the match. "We did everything we could to keep it close," Neumann said.
Facing their two biggest rivals within a three-day span proved to be a challenge for the Somerset hockey team last week. The Spartans' play improved steadily through the two games, resulting in a split in their games against New Richmond and Hudson. The Spartans were defeated in a game at New Richmond on Thursday, 4-2.
If opponents thought the Somerset boys basketball team was going to be an easy win this season, they found out differently when Durand visited the Spartan gym last Thursday. Somerset led through most of Thursday's Middle Border Conference game. It wasn't until well into the fourth quarter that Durand got the lead, with the Panthers hanging on to get a 49-43 win over the Spartans. Last week was the first full week for the Spartans after four seniors had been removed from the team.
Osceola put extra defensive coverage on Somerset leading scorer Ashley Martell when the two girls basketball teams met in Somerset last Friday. Somerset needed other people to step up offensively, but that didn't happen and the Spartans took a 48-41 loss in Friday's Middle Border Conference contest. The loss drops Somerset's conference record to 2-2, while Osceola advances to 3-2. The teams played to a draw in the first half, with the score tied 24-24 in the fateful third quarter. Osceola was able to score 17 points in the third quarter. Somerset's offense bogged down, producing six points.
It never seems to fail. Whenever the St. Croix Central girls play at Colfax, the Viking girls have an incredible shooting game. It happened again last Thursday. The Panthers went to Colfax and were blitzed by the Vikings, 66-31. The loss leaves the Panthers with a 3-2 mark in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. Their overall record stands at 5-4. Central coach Luke Fritsche said he didn't fault the Panthers' defense in the loss. "That's the best Colfax has shot all year," Fritsche said. "We have better days ahead. I still think we're a good team." Colfax is a savvy veteran team.
The Somerset wrestling team made quite a solid showing at the Eden Prairie Invitational on Saturday. Two Spartans won individual championships and most of the Somerset wrestlers finished in the top half of their bracket. Winning championships for the Spartans were sophomore Haydon Dvorak and freshman Gabe Flandrick. Flandrick beat ranked wrestlers in the semifinal and final matches at 130 pounds.
Middle Border Conference opponents have not been a problem for the St. Croix Central boys basketball team this season. The Panthers improved to 4-0 against MBC teams and 12-1 overall with a 70-57 win at Prescott on Monday night. Facing the opponents from the larger schools in the MBC has kept the Panthers sharp. They excelled in the offensive end on Monday, with four players scoring in double figures. Brad Walen and Kyle Cress each scored 13 points and Charlie Clark and Cody Olson each tallied 11 points. Offense wasn't the problem in the first half in Monday's game.