New Richmond boys basketball hopes progress carries into playoffs
The second half of the season has gone much more like the New Richmond boys basketball team had hoped when the season began.
The Tigers are hoping the success over the second half of the season carries into the postseason. The Tigers are scheduled to begin WIAA Division 2 regional tournament play at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Sparta. New Richmond (9-13) received the ninth seed in the regional bracket, behind a Sparta team that is 5-17 and went 0-12 in the Mississippi Valley Conference. Until a win over Menomonie on Feb 15, Sparta had lost 16 games in a row. The winner of the New Richmond-Sparta game will play at top-seeded La Crosse Central at 7 p.m. on Friday.
New Richmond has been a much better team over the second half of the season. After starting the season 2-8, the Tigers have gone 9-5 in their final 14 regular season games. The Tigers capped their regular season with a 55-44 win at Osceola last Monday.
This was a game where the Tigers led start to finish. The Tigers opened the game with a 7-1 advantage and they maintained a lead the rest of the way.
When the Tigers and Chieftains met early in the season, Osceola was intent on getting the ball to senior guard Haakon Carlson as their main scoring threat. That has changed, according to Tiger coach Rick Montreal.
"They wanted to slow the pace down. They like to pound the ball into the (Braml) twins, so we game planned for that," Montreal said.
Osceola did have some success with that, with the Bramls combining for 25 points. The Tigers had a far more diverse attack and that led to this victory.
That started with three-point shooting. The Tigers hit six three-pointers, four of them coming from junior Ryan Kling. The accurate outside shooting forced Osceola to extend its defense and the Tigers were able to find space in the gaps of the defense.
This was also a physical game and the Tigers took full advantage of the 25 fouls called against the Chieftains. New Richmond went 16-19 from the free throw line. That was led by guards Joey Kidder (8-8) and Talon Seckora (4-4).
The win assured the Tigers a spot in the top half of the Middle Border Conference final standings. They finished fourth with an 8-6 record.
"It was a good way to end the regular season," Montreal said of finishing in the top half of the standings. "We have the program heading back in the right direction. It's a sign of things to come."
Kidder played another strong statistical game for the Tigers, finishing with 12 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Kling also finished with 12 points. Drew Momchilovich stood out in several of the team aspects, finishing with three assists, three steals and two blocked shots.