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 growth process for the young Somerset girls basketball team isn't a consistent thing. But in games like last Wednesday's 49-24 win over Clear Lake, the Spartans give plenty of reason for optimism. Somerset's girls were sizzling in the opening three minutes of the game, rolling up a 10-0 lead at the Glenwood City tournament. The Spartans then fell into a bad pattern for the rest of the half, which was riddled with tons of turnovers and out of control play by both teams.
Drew Baillargeon won a championship and Tyler LeRoy and Steve Vanasse each took second place in their weight divisions when the Somerset wrestling team competed in the Faribault Invitational on Dec. 18. Somerset took 10 wrestlers to the varsity tournament and took fifth place among the eight teams in the meet. Baillargeon had to win wild matches in the semifinals and finals to get his meet championship. In the semifinals at 135 pounds he was trailing a wrestler from Eastview by one in the third period. Baillargeon let his opponent go, then got the takedown to tie the match.
You can bet the Hudson Raiders remember former teammate Alli Moore. Moore scored the game-winner with five minutes left in regulation as New Richmond's girls hockey team edged Hudson 3-2 last Tuesday. Moore's family moved to New Richmond before this school year. Moore had played for Hudson and now the junior is a forward on the Tigers. Her game-winning goal was a product of her hard work in front of the net. Tiger defenseman Erin Dodor put a shot on goal.
The trip to Sauk Prairie turned out to be a major misadventure for the Somerset hockey team. The hockey game didn't go all that well for the Spartans either. The Spartans arrived 90 minutes late for the game and it took the team a while to get rolling. Sauk Prairie took a 3-0 lead, then held on to beat the Spartans 3-2. First the Somerset bus took the wrong offramp from Highway 94, trying to find Sauk Prairie, which is located between Wisconsin Rapids and Madison.
It has been several years since the St. Croix Central wrestling team was able to give Boyceville a battle. In the Friday night Dunn-St. Croix Conference battle between the two teams, Central's wrestlers gave the Bulldogs all they could handle. Boyceville was able to hold off the upstart Panthers, 45-30. "We could have even come out on top if one or two more (matches) had gone our way," said St. Croix Central coach Brad Holzer. Boyceville is expected to be the top team in the D-SC this season.
The Somerset girls basketball team learned a harsh lesson last Thursday. At halftime the Spartans were ahead of Baldwin-Woodville 29-17. But the Spartans' play steadily declined in the second half and the Blackhawks were able to come back for a 52-49 Middle Border Conference win. In all three of their MBC games thus far, the Spartans have played one extremely sharp half and one half that was not nearly as sharp.
A freshman goalie playing like Dominik Hasek made things much tougher than expected for the Somerset hockey team when the Spartans hosted Altoona last Tuesday. Somerset put 44 shots on goal, but could only manage two goals before getting an empty-netter in the final minute to seal a 3-0 win over the Rails. Two goals that came 70 seconds apart late in the second period were the difference in the game.
It was a game the St. Croix Central boys could not afford to lose. The Panthers faced a pivotal Dunn-St. Croix Conference game on Saturday, facing one of the other main D-SC contenders when Mondovi's boys visited Hammond. After a tight first quarter, the Panthers took control of the game by outscoring the Buffaloes 15-2 in the second quarter. From then on the Panthers kept the lead at a comfortable margin, winning 53-44. A loss to Mondovi would have put the Panthers two games behind in the D-SC race after three games.
Teams that thought stopping Mike Schachtner would equate to stopping the Somerset boys basketball team have found out they were wrong. Osceola was successful in holding Schachtner to nine points in last Thursday's game. But Osceola had no way of stopping Somerset junior John Anderson, who scored 27 points in leading the Spartans to a 51-43 win over Osceola. This was the first game for both teams in the Middle Border Conference this season. Anderson hit the first shot of the game and he was on fire for most of the first half.
Getting the three toughest opponents in the conference done right away can be a positive, according to St. Croix Central girls basketball coach Shannon Berg. The Panthers are 1-3 after their opening four games. The three losses are to Colfax, Boyceville and Glenwood City, who are expected to be three of the top contenders in the conference this season. Last Tuesday the Panthers lost to Boyceville 48-25.