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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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.
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.
It wasn't the conference championship the Somerset hockey team was hoping for, but the Spartans wrapped up second place in the Middle Border Conference last Thursday with a 9-4 win over Amery. The Spartans finish with a 4-2 record in the MBC. New Richmond won the MBC with a 6-0 record. Somerset dominated play early in the game against Amery, building up a 7-1 lead midway through the game.
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.
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.
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 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.
The New Richmond girls pulled off the biggest regular season win in several years last Thursday, knocking off Middle Border Conference leader Osceola on the Chieftains' home court, 58-52. This is Osceola's first conference loss of the season. The Tigers move into a tie for second place in the MBC with the win, improving their conference record to 6-3. The Tigers won this game with the same formula that has made them the hottest team in the MBC over the past few weeks.
Being upset by a winless team was bad enough. Then to have the school bus break down during the trip home on one of the coldest nights of the winter stretched the night's happenings from bad to surreal for the St. Croix Central girls basketball team. The Panthers were knocked off by winless Plum City 54-53 last Thursday. The Panthers went into the game in third place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. But they are a year removed from being one of the teams that was hoping to pull off this kind of upset. "It's certainly come full circle," said Central coach Shannon Berg.
It was a rough week for the New Richmond girls hockey team. The Tigers will have a tough time getting a top seed in the sectional after a 5-1 loss to Hudson last Tuesday. On Friday the Tigers met up with one of the leading contenders for the 2004 state championship, Onalaska, and came out on the losing end of a 5-3 score. Tiger coach Steve Gehr said the effort against Onalaska was a marked improvement from the showing against Hudson.