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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While the New Richmond boys basketball team is still trying to elevate its offensive play, the Tigers have found they can rely heavily on their play in the defensive end of the court. The Tigers scored a pair of Middle Border Conference wins last week, over Somerset and Durand.
Somerset hockey coaches Dan Gilkerson and Ryan Dalzell can tell you exactly when the Spartans last won in New Richmond. It happened 12 years ago, during their senior seasons with Spartans. They got to experience another win in New Richmond last Thursday, when the opportunistic Spartans scored a 5-2 win over the Tigers. This was a tightly officiated game and the Spartans used that to their advantage.
It's a forgone conclusion in Wisconsin wrestling circles that Wausau West is the best high school wrestling team in the state this year. New Richmond's wrestling team entered the Wisconsin Dells Dual Classic in search of tough competition. The only loss in five matches for the Tigers in the tournament came against Wausau West. New Richmond scored wins over St. Croix Falls, Spring Valley, Whitnall and River Falls during Saturday's tournament in The Dells. The Tigers also gave Wausau West the best battle the defending Division 1 state champion has faced thus far in the 2008-09 season.
In last Thursday's 67-44 win over Spring Valley, the St. Croix Central boys basketball team gave every indication it was ready to move up to the level of the top teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. Then in Saturday's 39-35 loss to Glenwood City, the Panthers' uninspired play lessened the enthusiasm about the team. These two games leave the Panthers with a 2-2 record as they conclude the December portion of their conference schedule. The Panthers have two non-conference games slated yet in December. Next Tuesday the Panthers will play at Baldwin-Woodville.
A brutally tough schedule with very few home games and a low number of players on the roster will make every game for the New Richmond girls hockey team a test to overcome adversity. With every game, the Tigers are showing they can stand up to those tests. On Saturday the Tigers played with 10 skaters in a game at Menomonie. Twice the Tigers battled back in the game, including in the closing minutes, to earn a 6-5 win over Menomonie. The second of the comebacks came in the final six minutes.
The New Richmond girls basketball team may have the least varsity experience in the Middle Border Conference to start the 2008-09 season. The Tigers showed in their first two games of the season last week that a lack of experience doesn't mean a lack of spirit. The Tigers battled right down to the final second in both of their games. In the season opener last Tuesday the game went down to the final second, before the Tigers lost at Osceola 47-45. On Friday the Tigers ran up against one of the most experienced MBC teams when they faced Durand.
The final score of 6-1 might lead fans to think the New Richmond boys hockey team wasn't competitive when the Tigers opened their 2008-09 season on the Hurricanes' home ice last Tuesday. That wasn't really the case. The Tigers trailed 2-1 entering the third period and they twice had power plays in the opening minutes of the third period, where they had several good chances to tie the game. That tying goal never materialized. Hayward then went on the power play and scored at the 4:12 mark into the third period.
Being a young team hasn't been a severe detriment to the Somerset hockey team at the start of the 2008-09 season. The Spartans started the season with convincing wins over Spooner and Robbinsdale Cooper. On Saturday they went to Tomah and earned a tie. In their three games the Spartans have given up a total of six goals. Defense was a question mark for the team entering the season. Sophomore goalie Dylan Rivard and a group of young defensemen have been tough to score against thus far.
With only 12 skaters, including two goalies, the New Richmond girls hockey faced the team with the largest student population in the state for the championship of the Wisconsin River Classic on Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids. Those numbers didn't stop the Tigers from beating the combined Stevens Point-Wisconsin Rapids team in the championship game. The Tigers won 3-2 to cap a two-victory day for the girls. In the opening round of Saturday's tournament the Tigers defeated Arrowhead by a 4-1 score. The win over the Point-Rapids team is huge for the young Tiger team.
The New Richmond wrestling team has extremely high hopes for this season and the Tigers started fulfilling those expectations in their first matches of the season. The Tigers opened the season last Thursday with a Middle Border Conference dual match with Osceola. The Tigers mauled the Chieftains, scoring a 58-24 win. On Saturday the Tigers competed in a tournament at Lakeville, against some of the top teams from around the Twin Cities. The Tigers took second place in the tournament.