New Richmond girls basketball looks for brighter future
The hope within the New Richmond girls basketball program is that this is the last season in the foreseeable future where the Tigers rank among the lower teams in the Middle Border Conference.
The Tigers finished their 2017-18 season last Tuesday with a 65-56 loss to River Falls in the opening round of the WIAA Division 2 regional tournaments. The Tigers finish the season with a 3-20 record.
From this season's squad, the Tigers graduate two seniors: starting guard Lorin Bauer and reserve Winter Roberts. Tiger coach Ryan Schradle said the girls will have to work hard in the off-season to improve their skills, because there will be plenty of competition for playing time.
"We'll have a lot of girls coming back. The JV and freshmen had successful years and 10 girls are coming back from the varsity," he said. "It's a huge off-season. There's a lot of younger girls who are hungry."
Schradle said the Tigers' non-conference schedule is designed to get the team ready for the playoffs. It consists of Division 1 and 2 schools. Durand is the lone exception, because the Panthers are regarded as a perennial power that can compete against teams from any division.
The playoff game in River Falls showed the Tigers aren't far away, but that there is also clear room for improvement. The Tigers were hurt by a blight of early turnovers. River Falls went on an 11-0 run to build a 13-8 lead eight minutes into the game.
The Tigers were never able to regain the lead, cutting it to one point twice late in the first half. The Wildcats finished the half with a pair of hoops, stretching their lead to 33-27.
The second half was a series of, first River Falls getting a burst of points, then the Tigers clawing back. The Tigers got as close as 57-51 with 1:05 left on a hoop by Barb Kling. River Falls was already in the bonus and the Cats hit enough free throws in the final minutes to keep the Tigers down.
One aspect that hurt the Tigers was their inability to stop River Falls point guard Kylie Strop. She finished with 34 points and her neverending drives to the basket also created a number of open shots for her teammates. River Falls also held a distinct rebounding advantage in the game, outboarding the Tigers 42-28.
The Tigers were led in scoring by junior Kate Miller with 12 points.
Sophomore Jessica Hagman was playing in her third game since returning from knee surgery. She went to the floor several times in obvious pain, but kept going back into the game for more. She scored 10 points, including hitting three treys. She shared the team lead with seven rebounds.
"We're just a better team when she's on the court," Schradle said.