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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When the New Richmond boys basketball fell behind 16 points several times in the first half against Rice Lake last Tuesday, it would have been easy to write off the Tigers for the night. The Tigers proved that giving up on them, even against an undefeated opponent like Rice Lake, could be a major error in judgement. Playing perhaps their best third quarter of the season, the Tigers narrowed the margin to 43-39 as the teams entered the fourth quarter.
The New Richmond wrestling team earned two wins at a quadrangular meet last Tuesday, but the win the Tigers wanted most barely got away from them. The quad meet was held at Hudson. The Tigers scored convincing wins over Glenwood City and Baldwin-Woodville, but the Tigers couldn't quite get the win against Hudson that they were hoping for. Hudson beat the Tigers by a 35-29 score. This was a Tiger lineup that wasn't at full strength. Senior Jon Haffner strained ligaments in his knee during the week of practice, leaving a void at 171 pounds.
Dealing with the future is a multi-pronged challenge for the Somerset Board of Education. Both sides of that issue received attention at the board's monthly meeting on Dec. 18. The issue of space within the district is an on-going issue for the school district. District administrator Randy Rosburg said he needs advice from the board on whether he should start planning to move the district's pre-school and junior kindergarten programs off campus.
The long-running process for the Somerset School District to purchase the DeCosse property may have finally been completed. The results of the condemnation hearing held on the property were received on Saturday. The St. Croix County Condemnation Commission decided that the selling price for the 69.05-acre parcel should be $1,290,200. The final price is a compromise from the values the two sides were asking, based on separate appraisals. The school district had submitted a figure of $1.236 million, based on its most recent appraisal.
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.