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The Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team used a standout performance from their junior point Guard, Junior Howard to cruise past Lakeland 80-43 on Friday night. The Hodags’ had three players finish with double digits including Howard's career-high of 28 points in their Great Northern Conference opener at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
The Thunderbirds stuck around early in the first, but wouldn't last long with Howard responding. Gunnar Weitz of Lakeland connected on a three to put them up 5-2, but Howard answered with a triple of his own to score the Hodags' first seven points of the night.
About five minutes into the game, Weitz would hit a three-pointer to tie the game up 8-8. But that just fueled the Hodags, and Howard responded with a triple of his own which would be the start of an 9-0 run for Rhinelander. Senior Brad Quade had a drive and dish inside to junior Bryce Schickert who scored in the lane, senior Owen White scored inside, and fellow senior Brad Comer also scored in transition to put RHS ahead 17-8.
Comer scored back-to-back baskets including a three to give the Hodags' a 10-point advantage about halfway through the first-half. Rhinelander would continue the momentum and would push ahead 34-20 but Wetiz would hit a three at the buzzer to bring the Thunderbirds within 11-points at halftime.
Howard recorded 17 points alone in the first half to lead the way. While Weitz and Santana Barnard teamed up to keep Lakeland alive and would score all the Thunderbirds' first-half points. But the second half was a different story, and the Hodags' defense would hold Barnard and Wetiz to only two points in the second half.
Lakeland's lack of depth took its toll down the stretch. The Thunderbirds were without two top players; Connor Evenhouse and Michael Ouimette who are both out due to injuries. Which left former RHS Coach Rich Fortier with only two subs on his bench.
It didn't take long for the Hodags to set the tone in the second-half, when Howard reached 20-points after hitting a three in the first 20-seconds. Rhinelander used transition baskets from White and Comer to go ahead 41-27. Howard followed that up with a three-point play after being fouled on offensive rebound and putback on junior Brock Lieders' deep three attempt.
From there it opened up outside shots of RHS who would connect on three-straight outside baskets from Comer, Howard, and Quade to give Rhinelander a convincing 53-30 advantage. Within minutes, Comer and Quade would strike triples again.
After Lakeland scored a three, White was fouled on a dunk and completed the three-point play to push the Hodags ahead 69-37 with about five minutes left in the game.
Sophomore Drake Martin assisted senior Jared Haug on back-to-back transition layups in the closing minutes of the game. And sophomore Peyton Erickson had Rhinelander's final points on a floater in the lane as the Hodags went on to win 80-43.
Comer finished the night with 17 points and White added 16 points. It also marked the 11th straight win for RHS over Coach Fortier, and the Hodags are now 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the GNC. Rhinelander will return to conference action on Friday when they travel to Northland Pines for another girls'/boys' double-header.
Photo By Maria Biolo Owen White: captured by Maria Biolo.Additional photos: HodagSports staff
The Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team had to fend off a late Wisconsin Rapids run on Tuesday, but used a last second putback from senior Reese Flores to earn the two-point victory, and marked their first win of the season.
After falling to Stevens Point in overtime on the road, the Hodags got their payback against another Wisconsin Valley Conference opponent. With two seconds left remaining in the second half, Flores was able to cash in on the shot and finish in the lane to push RHS ahead 46-44 at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
The Raiders' went on an 8-3 run in the final four minutes of the game. Freshman Dylan Lisitza drove down the right lane line and scored to tie the game up 44-44 with 55 seconds left in the game. Senior Owen White brought the ball up and the court, as the Hodags held for the last shot. With under 10 seconds, White made his move to the basket and Rapids forced a contested shot just inside the top of the key that bounced out. Junior Howard crashed the board and tipped the ball to Flores in the lane, and Flores finished the shot to give the Hodags a two-point advantage.
Wisconsin Rapids took a timeout and had two seconds left on the clock and had a chance for the win. Rhinelander only had five second-half team fouls and would press. The Raiders got the ball inbounds and got off a last-second shot from half court, but came up short, as Rhinelander went on to earn their first win of the year.
Not only did Flores hit the final shot of the game, but he opened the Hodags scoring on the night, and connected on a triple on their opening possession and would be his only points of the night. White followed with an offensive rebound and finish inside to give RHS an early 5-2 lead after senior Isaac Pelot scored in transition off Rhinelander's 1-2-2 press, which was the start of seven unanswered Raider points. Senior Keegan Hewitt connected on a baseline three and Pelot scored back-to-back inside points to give the Raiders a 9-5 advantage.
Senior Brad Quade was finally able to break the Raiders' scoring streak, and scored on a drive. Sophomore Drake Martin was fouled on a drive and hit both free throws to follow. And junior Brock Lieder and White each scored on offensive rebounds and put-backs to tie the game up 13-13.
Howard would hit a triple with 3:18 left in the first half and White would connect on a deep two-pointer to put Rhinelander up 20-17 with just over a minute left. But Lisitza scored on a runner with five second left to pull the Raiders with one at 20-19 at halftime.
Early in the second half, both teams would exchange points and the largest consecutive points score for either time in the final half proved to be five points. Quade scored on a floater and Howard had another triple with about 12 minutes left in the game which gave RHS a 33-28 lead.
The Hodags pushed their lead to six points, after senior Brad Comer hit a triple at the top of the key with 10 minutes left. But the Raiders would storm back and Hewitt would make it a one possession game after a steal and transition basket with 4:32 left. RHS responded a big three pointer from Quade on a swing pass from Howard.
White had a three-point play with 2:13 left to put RHS up 42-37, and he would follow that up with two straight blocks on the defensive end of the court. Rhinelander was unable to secure the second rebound off White's block, and Hewitt easily scored inside. Once again Hewitt scored, this time a three-point play which following a Hodag turnover on the inbound pass that tied the game up 42-42 with under two minutes to play.
White scored inside with 1:22 left for a two-point lead. But that was short-lived as Lisitza tied it up again at 44-44. The Hodags held for the last shot, or what they thought would be the last shot, and Flores was there to make the big game-winning play.
White finished with the game-high of 19 points and recorded his double-double, adding 12 rebounds in the win. Quade finished with seven, Howard scored six, and Flores had five points including the game-winner and Rhinelander's opening basket.
Hewitt rallied for the Raiders in the second half, where he scored 13 of his 16 points. And Pelot scored eight of his 10 points in the first half.
RHS advanced to 1-1 overall and will host another non-conference game on Friday night. The Hodags will take on Green Bay East of the Bay Conference starting at 7:15PM at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
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