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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Last Tuesday's game showed the progress the New Richmond girls basketball team has made. Last Friday's game showed the level where the Tigers want to take their game. The Tiger girls won a close game last Tuesday, beating Amery 43-42. On Friday the Tigers were hoping to pull off an upset at Osceola. They weren't able to achieve that goal, losing to the Chieftains 57-44. Osceola was playing without one of its leading players, Chelsea Muckenhirn, who suffered a major knee injury last Tuesday. The Chieftains rallied, hitting several early shots to pull ahead.
Mike Kobs can go a whole game without shooting and the Somerset boys basketball coaches don't mind. Kobs didn't take a single shot in last Thursday's game at Osceola, until the final shot of the game. Kobs grabbed an offensive rebound, put a shot high off the glass and watched as the shot bounded around the rim as the buzzer sounded.
It's extremely rare to have an athlete reach Division 1 college sports. This year's Somerset football team has produced two Division 1 players. Mike Van Someren and Andrew Neumann both signed on with Division 1 football programs last week. And after playing side-by-side in Somerset's state football championship team, they will go to being instant rivals in college. Van Someren has signed on to play for the University of Wisconsin football team.
Eau Claire Memorial's nickname is the Old Abes, named after a bald eagle. On Saturday night, a Dove overpowered the team named after America's symbol. Kyle Dove scored twice in leading New Richmond's boys hockey team to a 3-0 win over Eau Claire Memorial. New Richmond's boys are now in the meat of their schedule. On Thursday the Tigers play at Baldwin-Woodville, one of the Middle Border Conference opponents that best challenged the Tigers in the opening round of the season. On Saturday the Tigers get their second chance at Hudson.
Jimmy Burke's breakaway goal 3:53 into overtime gave the Somerset hockey team a 2-1 win over Baldwin-Woodville/St. Croix Central last Thursday in Somerset. This was a tough, defensive-minded game with both teams trying to eliminate their opponent's scoring chances. Somerset ended up outshooting the Blackhawks 29-14 in the game. "We played a lot closer to what we're capable of playing defensively," Somerset coach Grant Belisle said. The overtime goal was set up by junior Shawn Walczak.
Sometimes a long bus trip home isn't so bad. Especially when it's after ending a long losing streak. The St. Croix Central girls had come close to several wins recently, but they finally completed the task last Friday, winning at Pepin 59-41. Any question on whether the Panthers would win this game was decided in the second quarter. After leading 13-7 at the end of the first quarter, the Panthers erupted for 21 points in the second quarter to lead 34-17 at halftime. The Panthers lead was more than 20 points for most of the second half.
New Richmond's girls overcame a 14-point deficit, moving ahead of Baldwin-Woodville by five points with six minutes left in the game. Happily ever after, right? Wrong. Baldwin-Woodville slapped on a full-court trap defense that forced the Tigers into a bushel of turnovers in the final six minutes. Those turnovers provided the ignition for the Blackhawks, who outscored the Tigers 20-6 in the final six minutes of the game, giving B-W a 62-53 win. The Tigers played an outstanding third quarter.
Battling teenage cigarette smoking fits the description of "never-ending job." There are times, though, when progress is being made. In November and December, the Pierce/St. Croix Tobacco Free Coalition made two sweeps through the county. In each sweep they stopped at every county business licensed to sell cigarettes, sending a minor into the business to see if they would be sold cigarettes. In the first sweep, 25 county businesses would have sold cigarettes to underage customers.
New Richmond's wrestlers continue to frustrate their Middle Border Conference opponents. The Tigers improved their MBC dual meet record to 5-1 and their overall dual meet record to 6-1 with a 46-23 win over Amery last Thursday. Like several other MBC opponents, Amery came into Thursday's dual thinking it could beat the Tigers. But the Tigers have succeeded in dual matches this season by winning the close matches. That was the case again against Amery. The Tigers got off to a 22-6 lead, thanks to two forfeits and three close wins.
Two dual wins and a strong finish in the Eden Prairie Invitational made last week quite a fruitful week for the Somerset wrestling team. The Spartans rolled to the dual wins, beating St. Croix Central 63-18 last Tuesday and Prescott 58-14 last Thursday. On Saturday the competition was more challenging at Eden Prairie. The Spartans finished fourth among eight teams.