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.