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 New Richmond-Somerset boys hockey rivalry has taken on a pattern over the past few years. New Richmond coach Adam Swanda knows that the Tigers have to be prepared for a huge charge from the Spartans in the opening minutes of the game. How those first minutes have gone has generally decided the game. If the Tigers can fend off the Spartans early, they have been able to control the game.
Any questions on whether the New Richmond boys basketball games should have been sufficiently answered last week. The Tigers started the week with a 42-39 win at Menomonie. They completed the week with a fourth quarter comeback to beat Durand 58-57. The win over Durand might have seemed unlikely, because the Tigers struggled through the first three quarters of the game. The Tigers trailed by 10 points at different times during the third quarter. Once the fourth quarter started, the Tigers looked like a different team.
If last Friday's girls basketball game between New Richmond and Somerset were a boxing match, it would have been a first round knockout. Somerset pounced on the Tigers, jumping to a 19-2 lead in the first 5:15 of the game. New Richmond was never able to cut the Spartans' lead to single figures, with Somerset rolling to a 64-36 final score. The Spartans were coming off their first loss of the season in their previous game and that apparently was a wake-up call, because this was the most tenacious the Spartans have played all season. It was quite the opposite for the Tigers.
Wylee Schmit is a wrestler who doesn't seem to get the credit he deserves and Jesse Mulhollam is a senior in his first year of wrestling. With the New Richmond wrestling team teetering on the edge of what would have been their first Middle Border Conference loss this season, Schmit and Mulhollam stepped up to turn the match in the Tigers' favor. Their wins put the Tigers ahead 37-22 and from there the Tigers finished off a 43-31 win at Prescott last Thursday. This win raises New Richmond's record in the MBC to 3-0.
In last week's games the Somerset boys basketball team showed it has evolved into a reliable defensive team. So the focus for the Spartans will now be steered toward improving the team's offense. The Spartans now stand at 1-5 after a 43-33 loss at Osceola last Friday. Last Tuesday the Spartans were beaten in a non-conference game by Unity, 47-37. With the inexperience on the Spartan squad, some growing pains are to be expected. Coach Eric Olson is pleased with the progress the team is making. The Spartans were in the game with Unity until the final minutes.
The New Richmond boys basketball team played two great halves of basketball in their first two Middle Border Conference games of the 2006-07 season. Both those great halves were in the first half of their games, last Tuesday at Baldwin-Woodville and Friday in their home debut against Osceola. At Baldwin-Woodville, the Tigers saw an 11-point halftime lead disappear, with the Blackhawks coming back to win the game in overtime. The Tigers were able to hold things together better on Friday.
The New Richmond girls hockey team found its scoring touch last Friday against Viroqua. The Tigers jumped to an early lead and just kept rolling in a 7-2 win over Viroqua. In the first period the Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Freshman Josie Wold started the scoring with her first varsity goal. She carried the puck into the Viroqua zone, then snapped off a shot that cleanly beat the Viroqua goalie. Wold's goal came two minutes into the opening period. The Tigers took control of the game with three goals late in the first period.
The New Richmond wrestling team put together one of its most dominating performances in years in the Tigers' home debut for the 2006-07 season. The Tigers overpowered Durand last Thursday, winning 65-10. The win raises the Tigers' record to 2-0 in the Middle Border Conference this season. The Tigers won 12 of the 14 matches wrestled, including winning nine of them on pins. The Tigers put together a string of five straight pins between the 140 and 171 weight classes. Durand had beaten Baldwin-Woodville in the opening round of MBC action.
Think of St. Croix Central boys basketball coach Mike Fern as a jockey, and his 2006-07 Panthers as a race horse. The Panthers' natural instinct is to run and they were blessed with the ability to run. But basketball is not a race, and that's where Coach Fern has pulled in the reins. Last week the Panthers pulled back on their speed, instead playing a calculated style that led to wins over Plum City and Pepin. The Panthers slowed their pace down significantly in the 47-32 win over Plum City last Tuesday.
The New Richmond boys hockey team has set goals for where it wants to be in the Middle Border Conference and the WIAA sectionals at the end of the season. The Tigers have already taken a key step in getting where they want to be in the MBC this season. But to get where they want to be in the sectionals by the end of the season, the Tigers still have some distance to cover. The big step in the MBC came last Thursday, when the Tigers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to score a 5-4 overtime win at Amery. Jake Calleja scored the game-winner for the Tigers, 45 seconds into the overtime.