The Rhinelander High School girls' basketball team proved they are on the right track after a successful 2017-2018 season, where they held their highest number of wins in over a decade. It also marked the first-time head Coach Ryan Clark had two unanimous first-team all-Great Northern Conference players in a single season. The Hodags finished 14-10 overall and finished second in the GNC at 10-2. Here is a look back at their season and what to look forward to for next season.New Tempo
It marked the first season under Clark that the lady Hodags were able to adapt to a new style of play. In the past several seasons, Rhinelander girls' basketball focused on their half-court defense but this year with a young and quick guard-filled team, they were able to focus on a new tempo.
The Hodags primarily used a 1-2-2 and diamond full-court press a majority of the season. Rhinelander would use that quicker pace tempo to create turnovers and would spark a good portion of their offensive with transition buckets.
GNC Team Averages
The Hodags were at the top portion of the GNC in all-team averages including first in team free throw percentages at 63.8%. Rhinelander was also runner-up in steals, assists, scoring offense, and scoring defense which was a clear reflection of their new fast-pace tempo.
Lakeland was first in scoring at 70 points per conference game, first in assists at 19.8 per game, and first in steals at 18.2 per contest. RHS averaged 16.9 steals and 12.3 assists while scoring 63.6 points per game and holding opponents to 49.1 points per game. Rhinelander finished third in rebounding in the GNC and averaged 33.6 boards per contest.
GNC Individual Leaders
The Hodags were led by sophomore point guard Kenedy Van Zile, who was one of two RHS players to earn unanimous first-team all-GNC. Van Zile made the top-GNC individual leaders in scoring, rebounds, steals, and free throw percentage. She was second in scoring, making 82 field goals including 17 three-pointers and scored 246 points in the GNC and averaged 20.5 per game. Junior Melissa Bruckner and GNC player of the year was first in scoring and averaged 24.8 per game. Van Zile was also second behind Bruckner in steals and averaged 4 per game.
Even being a 5'5" guard, Van Zile was still fourth in the conference in rebounding and grabbed 85 throughout GNC action to average 7.1 per game. She was also fourth in free throw percentage at 69.1% (65-94).
Senior guard Ally Seefeldt and fellow unanimous first-team all-conference player also made an impact this season and made the GNC individual leader list in several categories. She was top-five in the conference in scoring, free throw percentage, and steals. Seefeldt averaged 19 points per game and scored 17 triples in GNC play. She also averaged 3.3 steals per game and shot 68.4% from the free-throw line.
Senior guard Alayna Franson and cross-country standout, proved to be one of the Hodags’ top defenders throughout the season and also made the GNC list in steals and finished with 40 in the conference, averaging 3.3 per contest. She also was second in assists for the Hodags’ with 24 in GNC action.
Junior Brook Mork also would have made the GNC list in scoring, but the conference is based on the minimum of 60% of team games played. Mork averaged 10.9 pointers per game in her first seven GNC contests. But after suffering a back injury, Mork missed the last five conference games. Junior post Erika Jorgensen also suffered a knee injury at the end of the season.
This season, the Hodags were led by a large senior class of seven players. Four of the seven played significant minutes in the varsity lineup. The seniors include Franson, Seefeldt, Maddie Meyer, Molly Wagler, Lexie Rick, Jada Appling, and Megan Fernandes.
Seefeldt led the way for the Hodag seniors which included making the top-GNC list in scoring, steals, and free throw percentage and would be significant to Rhinelander's offense and defense. Franson also made the conference list in steals with 3.3 per game but also added 37 rebounds and 24 assists.
Meyer was second on the team in rebounds, finishing with 53 and added 21 assists, 17 steals, and averaged 5 points per game. Wagler averaged 3.3 points per contest and charted 37 boards for the Hodags.
A number of underclassmen emerged for Rhinelander this season, as they had a balance of senior leadership and youth. Besides starting sophomore point guard, Van Zile; at the end of the season the Hodags’ saw significant minutes for a pair of freshman after they lost Mork and Jorgensen to injury.
Rhinelander's Rebecca Lawrence and Marissa Martin split minutes on junior varsity and varsity this season but proved by the end of the season they are ready to step into varsity roles. Lawrence averaged 3.9 points per game and finished with 26 rebounds and 10 steals. While Martin averaged 1.4 points per game and charted 22 board and five steals.
The Hodags will lose seven seniors to graduations, which four were starters and or logged significant minutes. Rhinelander will return Van Zile, Lawrence, and Martin as well look to get Mork and Jorgensen healthy for their senior season. Shooting guard Payton Van Zile will also return for her senior year and will likely see some of their top JV players; Hannah Woracheck, Kendra Durkee, and Sophia McGinnis fill varsity roles. The RHS girls' basketball team will look to continue to build on a successful winning 2017-2018 season.