The Rhinelander High School girls' basketball team battled in arguably one of their best fought games this season, but fell 75-54 in the WIAA Division 2 regional semifinals to top-seeded Hortonville on Thursday night.
After Tuesday's night game at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium against Antigo, Coach Ryan Clark and Rhinelander knew they would have to make some adjustments and step up the intensity if they were to battle with the Polar Bears, who have two Division 1 recruits and a top ranked team.
One of those recruits, and the Hodag's main target to limit was 6'3" senior Morgan Allen, who went into the contest averaging 16.2 points per game and shooting over 56% from the field. And junior Shay Frederick a 5'6' guard, who averaged 17.4 points going into the game.
Allen signed her national letter of intent to play at IUPUI (Indian University- Purdue University Indianapolis). While Frederick has committed to Valparaiso University in Indiana.
The Polar Bears had several scoring threats, and it was a matter of limiting their top two players. Hortonville would roll to a 46-31 advantage after the first 18 minutes of action.
Rhinelander continued to double-team Allen in the post, but the Polar Bears took advantage and were able to connect from beyond the arc. Hortonville finished the night with six triples, as the Hodags held them to 29-second half points.
Of the two Division 1 college recruits, Rhinelander's defense was able to hold them under their season average, as the pair combined for 27 of the teams 75 points. Frederick finished with the team-high of 16 points, while Allen was held to just 11 points on the night. Senior Ali Schickert as well as sophomore Brooke Mork would guard Allen on the night.
Rhinelander took away one of the scoring threat of the night, but Hortonville proved they could adjust and would connect on their outside shots, making it difficult to recover. One of those players to step up was Lexi Walter, who was the second leading scorer for Hortonville on the night with 14 points. Olivia Griesback also added 13 points for the Polar Bears, with nine total players scoring for Hortonville.
The Hodags gave it their all and battled strong against the Polar Bears who are currently ranked eighth in Division 2 girls' basketball in Wisconsin with a 16-5 record.
Senior guard Kaly Kostrova would lead the Hodag's offense with a stellar night, finishing with a game and career-high of 35 points which included five three-pointers. But Kostrova and Schicket would end their high school basketball careers, and each had shining moments throughout the season.
No other Hodag finished in double digits on the night. Junior guard Ally Seefeldt finished with six points, and Mork added five.
Rhinelander finished the season fourth in the Great Northern Conference at 6-6 and ended 10-14 overall.
The Rhinelander High School girls' basketball team hosted Antigo in the first round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs on Tuesday night. The Hodags were able to hold off a late Robin run to earn a 53-45 victory at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium to advance to the regional finals.
In playoff basketball, Rhinelander did what they had to get the job done, with the team who loses ending their season. On their last night on their home court, seniors Kaly Kostrova and Ali Schickert each finished with double digits to lead RHS.
The Hodags would rally early on and started strong with a 16-4 advantage in the first half. Kostrova connected on four- triples in the first, as Antigo closed on a 12-8 run. RHS would take 24-16 lead at halftime.
Rhinelander would push their lead to 13 in the beginning of the second half, after junior Maddie Meyer hit a three, followed by an elbow jumper from Kostrova.
But Antigo proved they weren't going to back down that easy with their season coming to an end on the line. The Robins would battle back and took advantage of several Hodag turnovers used offensive rebound opportunities and went on a 12-2 run. After back-to-back three-pointers from Morgan Hotchkiss, the Robins pulled within five at 35-30.
Antigo also switched up their 2-3 zone and went to a man-to-man midway through the second half. Meyer would foul out with 8:12 left, and senior Allison Kondzela would sink both bonus free throws.
And junior Hannah Zenkovich would score three-straight points, first a basket inside, and then went 1-of-2 from the free throw line after being fouled to tie the game 37-37 with just over six minutes left in the game.
Kostrova missed a three, but earned the offensive rebound, and was able to foul out junior Kendall Smith. Ally Seefeldt, Kenedy Van Zile, Alayna Franson, Schickert, and Kostrova all iced some free throw down the stretch.
Sydney Lenzner hit a three for Antigo with 28.3 seconds left, but the damage was already done. Antigo selected to continue to foul to gain back offensive possession, where Kostrova scored the final two free throws.
Kostrova finished the night with a game-high of 18 points to lead Rhinelander. With fellow senior, Schickert finishing the night with 12 points and several blocks down low. Seefeldt also finished in double-digits for the Hodags, finishing with 11.
With the victory, Rhinelander will face top-seeded Hortonville on Thursday night on the road. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00PM, where the Hodags are looking to pull out an upset and continue their 2016-2017 season.
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