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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Most teams wouldn't expect to have a breakout game when they are facing an opponent from the Big Rivers Conference. That is just what happened when the Somerset girls basketball team played at Rice Lake on Saturday night. The Spartans devastated Rice Lake, right from the opening seconds of the game. Somerset outscored Rice Lake 19-0 in the first quarter and the Spartans carried on the dominance through all four quarters, winning 74-39. First and foremost for the Spartans at Rice Lake was senior guard Kellie Ring. Ring scored the first six points of the game off drives to the basket.
The rust of missing one game and two practices occasionally showed in the play of the Somerset girls basketball team on Monday night. The Spartans also showed that when it comes down to crunch time, they have the ability to pull out a close game. Boyceville made a charge late in the game, but the Spartans were able to withstand that attempt to earn a 60-54 non-conference win. Missing last Thursday's game and two practices due to the cold weather last week affected the Spartans' consistency more than anything.
The comeback made by the New Richmond girls basketball team might not have put a scare into the Amery Warriors, but it sure got their attention. After trailing by as many as 23 points in the third quarter, the Tigers suddenly looked like the University of Connecticut women's team. They outscored Amery 16-2 in the fourth quarter, cutting Amery's final winning margin to 41-36. The Tigers gave a quality defensive effort throughout Saturday's game. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Tigers found they could play at the same level on offense.
Missed chances were the difference for the New Richmond boys hockey team in a 3-0 home ice loss to Rice Lake last Tuesday. The Tigers gave every indication that they could skate with the Warriors, one of the top teams in the Big Rivers Conference. In the early stages of the game, the Tigers had an overwhelming edge in every aspect of the game except scoring. The Tigers took the first 10 shots of the game.
The Somerset boys basketball team led for only 35 seconds in last Tuesday's game at Ellsworth, but it was the most important 35 seconds. Luke Buerkley's three-pointer with 35 seconds left in the game put Somerset in front 58-56. The Spartans came up with some big defensive pressure in those final seconds, preserving the 58-56 win at Ellsworth. With the win the Spartans climb to 2-2 in the Middle Border Conference standings. Tuesday's game did not start well for the Spartans.
The times are changing for the New Richmond boys hockey team. At the beginning of the season the Tigers couldn't find a way to win a game. Now they are winning when they aren't at the top of their game. The Tigers earned their first Middle Border Conference win of the season when they won at Amery last Tuesday, 6-2. The Tigers are now 1-1 in the MBC and 4-5 overall after an 0-4 start. The first period of Thursday's game was not one of the Tigers' best. By the end of the period Amery held a 2-0 lead.
Defense and discipline were the difference as the New Richmond boys basketball team was able to defeat Baldwin-Woodville by a 55-42 final score last Tuesday. With the win the Tigers remain in second place in the Middle Border Conference standings with a 3-1 record. Tuesday's game was closer than the final score would lead you to believe. B-W led for much of the first half, due to the fast start of Cody Ninneman. He scored 10 points in the first half as the Blackhawks built a 19-14 lead early in the second quarter. That's when the Tigers turned up their defensive intensity.
Because they haven't played at home in more than a month, you may not have noticed that the New Richmond girls hockey team is putting together quite a solid season. The Tigers finally got to return home over the weekend, playing games against Viroqua and Beaver Dam. It was quite a return, with the Tigers winning both games to run their current win streak to four games. The Tigers now have a 7-3-1 record this season. On Friday night the Tigers played their first home game since November and it was clear they relished the chance to play at home.
The Tiger wrestling team was able to win four individual titles and take second in the team competition in the 40th annual New Richmond Wrestling Invitational (NRI) held on Saturday. Winning titles for the Tigers were sophomore Tanner Turany at 125 pounds, senior Brad Gartner at 135 pounds, senior Tom Volkert at 215 pounds and sophomore Joel Neumann at 285 pounds. St. Croix Central placed fifth among the eight teams in the tournament. The Panthers had one individual champion, senior Casey Perry at 152 pounds.
Five Somerset wrestlers finished as placewinners in the 2008 Northern Badger Wrestling Invitational. The tournament was held on Dec. 29-30 at River Falls High School. Getting five placewinners was one of the best performances in several years for the Spartans at the Northern Badger. Leading the Spartans was senior Darrin Emmeck, who placed fifth in the heavyweight class. Emmeck, who is now 11-3 this season, only lost once in the tournament.