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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New Richmond's girls got much more of a battle than they were expecting when they played at Somerset Tuesday night. The Somerset girls, trying to get their first Middle Border Conference victory as a birthday present for coach Bill Powers, nearly upset the Tigers. Somerset trailed 17-16 after scoring the first hoop of the fourth quarter. The Tigers then went on a 9-2 run to pull away for a 34-23 win. This was an extremely loosely officiated game that allowed both teams to be extremely aggressive.
An 18-point outburst from center Cameron Sarnstrom led the St. Croix Central boys to a 46-28 win at Glenwood City last Thursday. The win raises Central's season record to 11-6 and it gives the Panthers a rare season sweep of Glenwood City. Boys basketball seeding meetings will be held this weekend. Central coach Mike Fern said the win at Glenwood City was a good indication that the Panthers are playing as a unified team as they position for a higher seed in the regional. "It was a nice team win, you want everybody on the same page this time of the season," Fern said.
The WIAA girls hockey playoffs open next Tuesday and the New Richmond girls are primed. The Tigers will play at Hudson at 7 p.m. in the tournament opener next Tuesday, with the winner of that game qualifying for state. The loser of that game will get another chance to qualify for state, playing at Superior on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Tigers drew the third seed among the three teams in the sectional.
While a six-game losing streak may be eating at the confidence of the St. Croix Central girls basketball team, the Panthers still have the respect of other coaches. When the Division 3 regional seeding meeting was held over the weekend, the Panthers drew the fourth seed among the eight teams in the regional. This means the Panthers will open the tournament trail at home. That game will be played at 7 p.m. next Tuesday with Fall Creek as the opponent. Central coach Shannon Berg admitted she was a bit surprised at drawing the fourth seed, as were the Panther players.
If basketball games were only three quarters long, the Somerset girls basketball team would be a force in the Middle Border Conference. The fourth quarter, however, remains an immense roadblock for the Spartans. The Spartans have been close to the lead or in the lead late into the third quarter of several recent MBC games. That was the case again last Friday, when the Spartans and Prescott were tied 25-25 in the third quarter. Minutes earlier, Somerset had led 22-18. Prescott then scored the final six points of that quarter.
Somerset's hockey team beat up on two weaker opponents, but they couldn't get the win they wanted most this week. The Spartans notched easy wins against Minneapolis Washburn and Chippewa Falls McDonell-Eau Claire Regis. The Spartans were hoping they could compete evenly with Hayward last Friday, but lost 6-2. On Monday night the Spartans cruised past Washburn 8-4.
A 12-0 run in the final three minutes of the game pulled out this one for the Somerset boys basketball team. Baldwin-Woodville held a 39-38 lead, then stalled two minutes off the clock to hold the lead with three minutes left in the game. Somerset then took the lead with a Mike Wishard shot with 3:05 left in the game.
One of the most improved aspects of area basketball in the early stages of this season was the defensive progress the St. Croix Central girls has made. The improvement has slipped badly in recent games. The Panthers lost a pair of Dunn-St. Croix Conference games last week, giving up 145 points in the process. Last Friday the Panthers were beaten on their home court by Elk Mound, 66-53. Three nights earlier the Panthers had travelled to Boyceville, where they were pounded by the Bulldogs, 79-49. St.
A double dose of redemption. That's what the New Richmond girls basketball team accomplished with its 58-49 win over Baldwin-Woodville last Friday. The win helps make up for an off-key performance three nights earlier. The Tigers were fresh off a win over Middle Border Conference leader Osceola, but they fell flat at Ellsworth, losing 48-43 to the seventh place team in the MBC. Beating B-W also gives the Tigers some relief from the loss in their first meeting with the Blackhawks.
Winning three straight games has completely changed the on-court attitude of the New Richmond boys basketball team. After opening the season 1-10, the Tigers won their third straight game last Thursday, 58-48 at Ellsworth. With the win the Tigers are now 4-6 in the Middle Border Conference. This leaves them one game out of third place, where Baldwin-Woodville, Osceola and Prescott are tied with 5-5 records. Thursday's game was different for the Tigers because it was likely the first where they were favored to win this season.