The Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team advanced to 4-1 in the Great Northern Conference after edging Medford 54-53 on Tuesday night. The Hodags used some big plays down the stretch and tough defense to earn the one-point conference win at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium. The game was originally scheduled for 7:15PM, but was pushed back due to a triple over-time junior varsity contest that the Raiders won 67-64.
Both teams were unable to come up with big offensive plays in the final minutes including charges from senior Junior Howard and Justin Sullivan of Medford. Rhinelander had the ball back with about 40 seconds left in the contest but RHS turned the ball over with 24.7 seconds left to give the Raiders a chance to win the game. The Raiders missed two contested shots in the lane.
Onyi Ekwueme missed a jumpshot and Mason Rudolph missed the offensive rebound and putback, and the ball rolled out of bounds off a Hodag with 0.3 seconds left. The Raiders took a timeout, and junior Drake Martin came up with a big stop and swatted the ball out as time expired and prevented Medford from a game-winning attempt.
The first half, the Raiders controlled the offensive tempo and would eventually take a 12-point lead nearing the end of the first 18-minutes. Medford went on an early 9-3 run to push ahead 16-9. Sophomore Ty Baker of the Raiders hit a triple followed by an offensive boar and putback by Rudolph and a transition basket from Doug Way.
Rhinelander closed the first half on a 9-3 run to get within six points. Martin had a traditional three point play followed by a triple from senior Bryce Schickert. Sophomore Ross Skeen closed the half with a 3-point play with 17.6 seconds left. The Raiders held a 29-17 lead at the break.
The biggest turn around proved to be the Hodags' defense that limited Medford to only 21 points int he second half. While Schickert sparked Rhinelander's offense early in the half and scored an inside basket along with four free throws to bring RHS within one point. From that point neither team would lead by more than four points.
Midway through the second half both teams' offense seem to hit a wall, until junior Peyton Erikson banked in a three-pointer to give the Hodags a 42-41 advantage and followed on their next possession with 15-foot jumper. Howard scored back-to-back buckets inside, the first on a nice dish from Martin and the second on a drive to the rim.
With 2:21 left in the game, Martin connected on a pair of free-throws to put Rhinelander ahead 54-51. The Raider's responded and Rudolph scored on a drive but the Hodags' defense prevailed and held on to earn the one-point GNC win.
Schickert led Rhinelander with 15 points on the night and Martin finished with 12 points. A majority of the the Martin and Schickerts points came inside and from the free throw line. Howard recorded nine points on the night as well.
The Raiders were led by Peyton Kuhn who scored 15 points and all but four of his points came in the final 18-minutes. Way followed with 11 points and Sullivan added eight points.
The victory will set up a showdown between the top two teams in the conference for Friday. Rhinelander will host Mosinee at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium. The Indians are 5-0 in the GNC, while RHS is 4-1 halfway through their conference season. Tip-off is set for 7:15PM.
The Rhinelander High School girls' basketball team advanced to 6-0 in the Great Northern Conference after defeating Antigo 55-42 at Sheldon Fieldhouse on Friday night and the second contest of the girls/guys doubleheader. Although it was hard for the Hodags to establish their temp during the slowed down packed-in defense for the Robins, they were still able to get the job done and remain the only unbeaten conference team in the GNC.
RHS forced 35 Antigo turnovers on the night, but also committed 21 themselves and struggled with the tempo. The Robins played a half-court set and packed their defense in. The Hodags started with their full-court press which gave Antigo early trouble and contributed to their turnovers.
It proved to be a slow start for both teams but Rhinelander never trailed. The Hodags took an early 8-4 lead after junior Cynthia Beavers scored on a steal and transition layup and junior Kenedy Van Zile followed with a drive to the rim. The Robins stayed close with a three-point from Antigo sophomore Greta Parsons and a free throw from senior Maya Gaedtke to pull them within one at 9-8.
RHS responded with a 9-3 run to rebuild their lead. The run was sparked by three triples from the Hodags from Kenedy Van Zile, sophomore Marissa Martin, and senior Brooke Mork that would put Rhinelander ahead 18-11. The Robins followed with five unanswered points before RHS had the final push to close out the first 18 minutes.
Rhinelander rallied in the final minutes with a 11-5 run which included a three-pointer from senior Payton Van Zile on an assist from her sister Kenedy. Freshman Annika Johnson scored on a drive and RHS scored the rest on free throws and would take a 29-21 lead at halftime.
The second half the Hodags' came out on another run, this time 9-2 that included eight consecutive points from Mork in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the second half. The run put RHS up 38-23.
Midway through the final half, Antigo clawed back again with six straight points to pull within five at 41-34. But Rhinelander quickly answered and would extend their lead back to 15 and would hold on to earn the 13-point victory.
Kenedy Van Zile had the game high of 18-point but was over 10 points shy of her GNC average (29.8). Mork finished with 11 points and Beavers added a double-double with 10 rebounds and 10 points.
It also marked the halfway point in the Hodags' conference season and they have several important contests ahead of them including a road game at Mosinee on Friday night. RHS will then host runner-up in the GNC, Lakeland in a doubleheader at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium on Friday January 25th. The RHS girls will start the night at 6:00PM and the RHS boys basketball team will follow at 7:45PM. First the Hodags will have a tough non-conference game at Stevens Point on Tuesday.
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