The Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team was looking to earn a fifth straight Great Northern Conference, but on Tuesday fell to Medford with their chances greatly depleting. The Raiders rallied past the Hodags on Thursday night, as they fell 58-47 on the road to the GNC-leaders.
Medford would advance to 8-1 in the conference standings and would chart their 14th straight win to take a clear lead in the GNC. Rhinelander now sits 2 1/2 games behind the Raiders, and will have three conference games left this season. Medford is looking like they will be the next GNC champ and will only need to earn one more conference win for the title.
Although Rhinelander never led in the game, they were within striking distance several teams. The Raiders capitalized on early Hodag misses and would race out to a 6-0 lead.
RHS would pull within one with just under five minutes left in the first half. But Garrett Strebig would spark the Raiders with a triple followed by a three-point play as Medford went on an 8-0 run to close the half and took a 25-16 advantage.
The Hodags would make some runs in the second half, but every time the Raiders would push back and extend their lead. Rhinelander struggled from shooting on the night with Medford's defense pressure, especially evident on their outside shots.
Owen White would rally to score 16-second-half points, but the Hodags were unable to slow down the Raider's offense, who currently has three players averaging 15 points or more per game this season.
Approaching the halfway mark through the second, Easton Senoraske connected on a three to get the Hodags within four at 37-33, but the Raiders answered on a 5-0 run from that point.
Rhinelander would pull with four points again with under five minutes left in the game after White converted on an offensive rebound. And once again found themselves down 48-44 after Junior Howard connected on two free throws.
But Ekwueme would spark Medford in the second half where he scored all of his 16 points on the night. The Raiders would continue to build on their lead and would defeat RHS 58-47.
White would yet again lead the Hodags with another double-double including 22 points and 15 rebounds. The next highest scorer for RHS was Matt Reinthaler, who charted eight points.
Rhinelander will be back in action on Saturday where they will travel to Deerfield, Illinois for an invite, where RHS has connections with Camp Horseshoe. They will then have another non-conference game on Tuesday (February, 14th) and will host Marshfield. Rhinelander will be back in GNC action on Friday when they host Antigo.