It might just have been a battle for fourth place in the Middle Border Conference standings, but Monday’s game between the New Richmond and Osceola girls basketball teams was played like it was for a conference title.

The New Richmond girls put together an exceptional final nine minutes of the game to earn a 60-53 win over the Chieftains.

The game was packed with physical play and both teams put in really fine offensive efforts. Osceola led 47-40 midway through the second half. That lead disappeared when Kate Miller and Jessica Hagman hit 3-pointers, and Hagman scored off a fast break.That was the start of a 14-2 run that swung the game into the Tigers’ control.

Hagman showed she’s one of the elite players on Monday, scoring a career-high 31 points. She was just as valuable at the defensive end, as the Tigers sagged into the lane whenever possible in hopes of stopping Osceola’s post-based offense.

The win is the 12th overall for the Tigers this season. Hagman said she’s been pleased with how the team has progressed this season.

“After the (coaching) change, we came together as a team, wanting to be as successful as we can be and learning from our losses and mistakes,” she said.

Hagman said one of the most important aspects of the team’s success this year is how the depth has improved.

“Our whole team ability has improved so much. This year for sure is a building year. Nobody knew what to expect. Because we have a winning record it sets a good foundation for next year,” she said.

Hagman was the only Tiger to score in double figures, but there were several girls who scored in the 5-7 point range. Tiger coach Chad Eggert said this ranked as an impressive team win.

“We’ve taken on the motto of ‘get it done.’ Everyone did what they needed to do to get the job done,” he said.

The game was still in question in the final minutes and that’s where the Tigers may have played their best. Osceola wanted to get quick shots in the final minutes in hopes of cutting into the Tiger lead. The Tiger defenders wouldn’t allow it, forcing the Chieftains to run off more than 30 seconds before they could get a shot away.

The Tigers are scheduled to be back in action on Tuesday in a home non-conference game against Menomonie.


St. Croix Central boys

The Panthers are hoping that momentum is building for the final weeks of the season. The Panthers won their fourth straight game on Monday, rolling past St. Croix Falls in a non-conference game, 62-40.

There were good things happening at both ends of the court for the Panthers. The defense was stellar, whether it was in a man defense or a 1-3-1 zone. Central coach Zach Turpin said the Kopacz brothers were assigned to the Saints’ leading scorers.

“They did what they typically do,” Turpin said as the Kopaczes kept both players in single figures scoring.

This was one of the best perimeter shooting games of the season for the Panthers with Peyton Nogal, Zac Jourdeans and Will Soderberg all carrying hot hands. They combined for 45 points, with Nogal scoring 20, Jourdeans 14 and Soderberg 11.

It took the Panthers a little time to establish a lead, but they were ahead by 12 points at halftime and the lead in the second half was usually at 15 points or more.

The Panthers are scheduled to play again on Tuesday, in an MBC game at Somerset.


St. Croix Central girls

Central’s girls ran up one of the tougher programs in the area on Monday with a non-conference game at Durand. Durand is 17-2 this season and Central’s girls found out why, losing 66-35.

Central’s girls were able to keep it a competitive game for much of the first half before Durand began to wear them down.

“They’re dang good,” Central coach Ty Ketz said of Monday’s opponent. “They play an up tempo so the game can get out of hand really quick.”

Ketz said he thought the game showed that the Panthers are willing to do what is important they can be competitive with high level teams.

“The challenge is, are we able to sustain that level of play?” he said.

One bright spot Monday was the play of senior Claire Frankiewicz. She scored 11 in points in her third game back from a major knee injury. Ketz said Frankiewicz is again becoming a presence on the court and that she is regaining her confidence in her offensive game.

Kolbi Juen also scored nine points in the loss.

The Panthers will also be in action Tuesday, hosting Somerset in an MBC game.


Somerset girls

The Spartans nearly pulled off an impressive upset on Monday. In their final regular season home game the Spartans nearly knocked off St. Croix Falls, losing 55-52. The Saints are 18-2 this season and are the second seed in the WIAA Division 4 regional bracket. The Saints are the undefeated leaders in the Lakeland West Conference.

The Spartans had a double-digit in the first half, similar to their game against Baldwin-Woodville last Friday. Both teams chipped away at the lead in the second half and eventually got the win.

The Saints led by one point with 16 seconds left. The Spartans elected to foul and the Saints missed the front half of a bonus, with Dani Schachtner grabbing the rebound. She got the ball to senior Georgia Hammer. Hammer used a screen from Schachtner to get a shot away with three seconds left. The shot kissed off the front of the rim to the back iron, where it slowly rolled off. The Spartans fouled in the final seconds and made both free throws to make the final margin three points.

Hammer led a balanced Spartan offensive effort with 17 points. Taylor Paulson scored 11, Schachtner 10 and Rachel Gaikowski 8 points.

The Spartans are scheduled to be back in action on Tuesday, playing at St. Croix Central.


Somerset boys

Talk about a game getting away quickly. The Somerset boys were tied with Ellsworth six minutes into Monday’s game on the Panthers’ home court. Ellsworth outscored Somerset 27-4 in the rest of the half to build a 39-16 lead at halftime. Somerset dropped to 3-7 in the MBC with the 63-48 defeat.

Somerset coach Taylor Germain said the game slipped away quickly. The Spartans used two timeouts in hopes of stopping Ellsworth’s momentum, but nothing worked.

“From there it went pear-shaped,” Germain said about the solid start for the Spartans. “They hit some threes and we had some defensive breakdowns stacked on top of turnovers and poor shot selection.”

Will Piletich led the Spartans with 11 points. Brennan Sheridan finished with nine points and Melvin Ortiz seven points.

The Spartans resume action Tuesday, hosting St. Croix Central.