The Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team knew going into Friday nights contest against Wisconsin Valley Conference rival Stevens Point, it would be a challenge. The Hodags were without starting senior point guard Junior Howard and would fall 60-46 to the Panthers at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium and are now 1-1 overall this season.
Although SPASH did not have their big names like they have had the past few seasons such as Joey and Sam Hauser and Drew Blair; they proved to have enough depth to keep Rhinelander in check and enough to pull away at the end and handed the Hodags their first loss of the season. Howard suffered an ankle injury late in their opening game against Shawano.
The Panthers top two scorers of the night combined to score 21 of Stevens Point's 31 first-half points. Senior guard Adam Willoughby would led SPASH in the first 18-minutes and connected on three triples. Wiloughby would finish with four of the Panther's seven three-pointers. While senior Nolan Blair added 13 points on the night which included 10 in the first half.
Offensively the Hodags didn't seem to get in a rhythm especially in the first half where they committed 11 turnovers and only scored 19 points. And SPASH would hold a 12 point lead at halftime. Willoughby helped spark a 14-4 run late in the first half that extended Stevens Point to 11 points.
Although Rhinelander shot just under 50% from the field they had significantly less total shots than the Panthers and were held to only three offensive rebounds. RHS also gave up 60 points in back-to-back home games to start the season.
In the second half, used early momentum to push their lead to 15. But Rhinelander responded with a 10-1 run to pull back within six points at 38-32 but that would prove to be as close as they would get in their first loss of the year.
Junior Drake Martin had the game-high of 17 points points to lead the Hodags. Senior Brock Lieder wasn't far behind with 13 points and fellow senior Bryce Schickert added eight points.
Rhinelander will not play again until Tuesday, December 4th when they host Marshfield starting at 7:15PM at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.