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RHS: Girls Basketball
Review: Lady Hodags battled until the end
By Student Writer - Connor Kuczmarski | Published: 03/29/2013

It was all smiles and hugs for the RHS girls' basketball team following a 39-38 victory at Lakeland Feb. 26 in the WIAA playoffs. Though the Hodags finished the season 5-18, they won four of their last seven games under first-year coach Mark Jacobson. ( Photo By Bob Mainhardt )

     The Rhinelander High School girls’ basketball team went through its fair share of growing pains in the 2012-2013 season, but its resilience and never-say-die attitude resulted in improvement throughout the year.

Rhinelander’s resilient attitude was on full display in a playoff victory at Lakeland, which could set the stage for a bounce-back upcoming campaign.

“It was a rough start, but a transition for the kids,” RHS girls basketball coach Mark Jacobson said. “We had new girls being asked to step up and play significant time, as well as young kids, and as the season progressed their play improved. They got more confidence toward the end of the season and they were playing good basketball.”

     The Hodags began the season with five straight losses before picking up their first win in a 46-35 effort over Great Northern Conference rival Tomahawk. Rhinelander would then suffer a 10-game skid until Feb. 12 when the team upended Lakeland 37-32, foreshadowing a nail-biting postseason matchup.

Trailing Lakeland 37-38 with 2.2 seconds remaining in the regional quarterfinal Feb. 26, Sydnei Smith sank two free throws to give the Lady Hodags a playoff victory for the third consecutive year.
Jacobson called that game the most memorable of the season.

“That was the pinnacle of the season for the girls,” Jacobson said. “They worked so hard and never gave up, and they had some rough times but they kept working and working. As a result they earned it. It all comes back to fundamentals. We kept working on those and eventually it paid off.”

Rhinelander trailed by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter of that contest, but grabbed five offensive rebounds in the final minute of regulation to set up Smith’s winning free throws.

Senior Brianna Jorgensen, a second-team all conference player as a junior, was lost for the season with a knee injury before the year began. With Jorgensen out, the Lady Hodags relied on seniors Emily Fortier, Mara Meyer and Brianna Bozek for leadership. Jacobson said all three added something to the team.

“Emily brought great leadership,” Jacobson explained. “She was my go-to person when I needed to communicate on the spur of the moment and she never once disappointed. Mara came a long way and got confident with her shooting abilities. She provided us with a spark. Brianna was always steady when called upon and she gave us valuable minutes. Brianna Jorgensen is very talented and coming in teams were going to have to account for her. All of them are great kids with tremendous work ethic and high character.”

Jorgensen continues her physical rehabilitation and will attend Upper Iowa University and play Division II college basketball. She made a verbal commitment to the Peacocks shortly before tearing her ACL. Prior to the injury Jorgensen averaged 12.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

“I think that Brianna will do a great job (at Upper Iowa),” Jacobson said. “She has got the talent and above all else she has good character and strong ethics.”

Several sophomores and juniors played significant roles this year. Sophomores Riley Aschenbrenner, Brianna Gilbert, and Kylie Hunter will look to continue to grow as players and contribute while Molly Willging and Sydnei Smith head a talented junior class.

“We have three sophomores who will be juniors in Riley, Brianna, and Kylie, who are all going to be able to contribute nicely,” Jacobson said. “They got a lot of valuable varsity experience. Molly Willging will return as a defensive specialist and Sydnei Smith comes back following a second-team all conference campaign. I like the prospects of this group. If they play together this summer and work together they can be a great team.”

Jacobson said this season’s experience will be unforgettable, and aid his transition into future years of coaching girls’ hoops.

“It was a learning experience for everyone including myself. You come in with your thoughts on what you are going to do but as you grow as a coach you learn what works and what doesn’t. All in all I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything,” he said.

Hodag Sports Library
12/06/2014 Lady Hodags Dominate at home
11/29/2014 Hodags Excel at Wausau East/West Tournament
11/23/2014 Lady Hodags Suffer 2nd non-conference Loss
11/21/2014 Rough Start for Lady Hodags
11/13/2014 Girl's Basketball: Looking ahead
03/18/2014 Girls' Basketball Banquet: Reflection on a year of change
03/13/2014 Girls’ Basketball Review: A year of transformation and growth
03/07/2014 Mosinee Ends Lady Hodags' Playoff Run
03/04/2014 Hodag Girls Defeat Wausau East to Advance in Regionals
02/27/2014 Lady Hodags, Seniors Step Up and Shut Down the Raiders 56-26

Lady Hodags drop to Thunderbirds 54-37 01/10/2015 The Lady Hodags made the journey north to Lakeland Union High School Friday night to face the Thunderbirds in part one of a Hodag - Thunderbird basketball doubleheader. The girls had front stage first
Lady Hodags face tough challenge in Chargers 12/30/2014 With only one day left for 2014, the Rhinelander High School girls basketball team faced a tough challenge at the Jim Miagza Community gymnasium Tuesday night when they faced the Wittenberg-Birnamwood
Lady Hodags fall to Antigo 12/20/2014 December 19 was a meeting between 2 schools, Antigo High School and Rhinelander High School. These two schools have a storied rivalry, dating back to the 1930’s. With the boys playing later, Rhineland

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