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 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.
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.
A 6-3 loss that's better than a 6-3 win? That's the impression you'd get from listening to New Richmond boys hockey coach Adam Swanda following the Tigers' two games last week. Last Thursday the Tigers were visited by Shattuck-St. Mary's, a private school in Minnesota that is really a hockey finishing school that plays 60 games a season. Shattuck had already played 26 games this season when they arrived here Thursday. This was high-intensity hockey, the kind of test the Tigers were looking for.
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.
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.
The early-season schedule for the St. Croix Central girls basketball team pits them against their main opponents for the top spots in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. Last Tuesday the Panthers ran up against the sharp-shooting girls from Colfax. Colfax took advantage of some Central defensive lapses to build a 31-15 halftime lead. The Panthers couldn't cut into that margin at all in the second half, losing 53-35. This left both teams with a 1-1 record in the D-SC heading into this week. This week the Panthers played at Boyceville Tuesday.
The Somerset girls basketball team showed it is nearly ready to compete with the better teams in the Middle Border Conference last Friday. While the Spartans haven't won an MBC game in the two seasons they've been in the league, this season it seems to be just a matter of time before they get that accomplished. Last Friday the Spartans hosted Amery, a team loaded with seniors that is expected to be one of the finer teams in the MBC this season. The Spartans were ahead at halftime in Friday's game, 29-28.
It wasn't a successful starting week for the Somerset wrestling team, with the Spartans facing defeat in all four of the matches they wrestled within a three-day span. Somerset coach Dennis Potter took the chance with this experience to try teaching the Spartans the difference between "losing and failing." The Spartans are giving away several forfeits to start the season and have a couple of their most experienced wrestlers unable to compete at the start of the season. "We will at times this season lose, but not fail," Potter said.
Basketball fans all over the western part of the state were anxious to see what happened in Spooner last Friday night. Somerset, expected to be one of the top teams in the Middle Border Conference, was playing at Spooner. The Rails are expected to be one of the best teams the Heart O'North Conference has to offer. The game lived up to its billing.