Senior Brad Kenote looks to pass during Monday’s scrimmage at Wisconsin Rapids. Kenote averaged 1.9 assists in Great Northern Conference play last season and takes over as the team’s starting point guard this season. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
Date Opponent Time
Nov. 20 at Wis. Rapids 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 1 at Crandon 1:45 p.m.
Dec. 7 MEDFORD* 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11 STEVENS POINT 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 TOMAHAWK* 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 18 at Antigo* 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 20 at Wausau East 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21 D.C. EVEREST 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 27 BRC-WVC Challenge# TBA
Dec. 28 BRC-WVC Challenge# TBA
Jan. 4 MOSINEE* 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8 LAKELAND* 8 p.m.
Jan. 11 at Northland Pines* 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 at Medford* 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 at Tomahawk* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 ANTIGO* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 MARSHFIELD 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 8 at Mosinee* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12 at Lakeland* 6 p.m.
Feb. 15 NORTHLAND PINES* 7:30 p.m.
* Conference games
# at Wausau West
11/16/2012 1:30:00 PM High expectations for RHS boys' basketball
vLemmens: WIAA state tournament a 'realistic goal' for Hodags
Expectations are high this year for the Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team. The Hodags return five of the nine members of their rotation, including three starters, from a team that went 17-7 and reached the WIAA sectionals last season.
Some expectations have been made by outsiders. The Hodags are No. 10 in the WisSports.net/Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division 2 poll and the favorite to win the Great Northern Conference. Other expectations have been made by the team.
"I want to see us in Madison (at the WIAA state tournament)," RHS boys' basketball coach Derek Lemmens said.
The Hodags have the talent, led by a strong frontcourt that includes seniors Shane White and Brett Mathews.
White was a first-team All-GNC selection and a Channel 7 Basketball All-Star last year. He averaged 14.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in the Great Northern Conference. Mathews averaged 6.5 points and 3.1 rebounds. He led the team with 20 points during its scrimmage Monday at Wisconsin Rapids.
"There's a lot in that first rotation," Lemmens said. "Shane did some good things. Brett did some good things. We've got the talent, we've just got to make it mesh and make it work."
White agreed with that statement.
"At any point, we'll have four or five guys on the court who can grab the ball, take their guy one-on-one and score on them almost every time," he said. "Sometimes its tough to pass the ball off for a better shot when you know you can hit the one you've got. I think our talent is one of our biggest obstacles, trying to work through that and playing as a team, instead of five individuals."
The Hodags also have a couple key juniors back in the rotation - Colton Volkmann and Mitch Reinthaler. Volkmann, a 6-3 shooting guard, finished second on the team last year in 3-point field goals. Reinthaler, a 6-4 swing man, has the ability to produce inside or outside when healthy.
Health is an issue for Reinthaler as the season begins. Still recovering from a broken ankle suffered in a varsity football game Sept. 28 at Antigo, Reinthaler is expected to miss at least the first few games of the regular season.
"He's supposed to be healthy by the end of November, early December, but we're going to take it slow with Mitch," Lemmens said. "A broken ankle, I don't want to get it reaggravated. We'll be patient with that. It's early in the season."
The biggest loss for the Hodags is in the backcourt where it will have to replace guards Nate Schoone, Kyle Comer and Adam Piasecki. Lemmens is turning the keys to his motion offense over to 6-0 senior Brad Kenote, who averaged 1.9 assists per game last season off the bench.
"Brad is our point guard, unless he can't play," Lemmens said. "That's the only thing that takes the ball out of his hands. He's our point guard. He's our leader on the floor and I think if something happens to him, that would hurt us. If you look at our depth, we don't have another true point guard."
Depth seems to be an issue for the team at the start of the season. Seniors Austin Bowman and Tyler Thorsen are competing for a starting position while Reinthaler is out of the lineup. Both saw plenty of minutes in Monday's scrimmage at Wisconsin Rapids. Senior forward Ben Eversman is the only returning player who saw action in at least eight conference games last season.
Others jockeying for playing time in the rotation include seniors Matt Bloch and Darren McGuire. The coaches also took a look at juniors Sam O'Melia and Ryan Dart and freshman guard Devin Oleinik during Monday's scrimmage.
"We have decent depth for small amounts of minutes," Lemmens said. "When it comes to major minutes, I don't think we'll be going that deep, but things change."
Antigo has won every Great Northern Conference boys' basketball championship, including last year when it need a miraculous double-overtime comeback on the final night of the conference season to defeat Medford and prevent Rhinelander from sharing the title. But the Red Robins lost reigning GNC player of the year Andreas Ezer, unanimous first-team All-GNC selection Jake Erickson, and several other key players to graduation.
That has paved the way for Rhinelander to be the odds-on favorite in the conference. Despite the hype, Lemmens was quick to note his team has won nothing yet.
"Antigo's still the kings," he said. "They have to be dethroned. We're not the team to beat, it's Antigo until someone proves otherwise. That's one I'm really hoping that we can get a big win against."
Lakeland lost three key seniors - Matt Iverson, Justin Cobb and Marquis Johnson - from last year's team, but has a familiar name on the bench as former RHS head man Rich Fortier takes over for Ted Voigt, who retired in June after 38 years at LUHS. The teams are scheduled to meet Jan. 8 in Rhinelander and Feb. 12 in Minocqua.
"Lakeland, that's one, of course, we've got to make sure we're up for," Lemmens, who played for Fortier at RHS, said.
Medford cannot be overlooked, either, as it returns the conference's leading scorer, John Keefe.
"With Keefe returning, they've got a solid point guard and a very dangerous scorer," Lemmens said.
Lemmens said his team must avoid getting caught up in the preseason hype and the team's biggest opponent will be humility.
"We've got to understand that we just don't walk out on the court and win games," he said. "We have to give it 100 percent. We have to play the way we play. We can't have mental lapses because we've got a bull's-eye on our back. Teams, especially in conference play, know that we're the favorites and they're going to be coming at us. So if we just step out on the court and think the game is won, that's the biggest mistake we could make."
White said the team realizes that it will not be able to sneak up on anyone this year.
"It's tough because there is a whole lot expected out of us after the season we had last year," he said. "We're bringing a lot of guys back and there are a lot of expectations, but we all know that we can be better than we are right now."
The road to Madison will not be easy. The other half of Rhinelander's sectional features preseason No. 1 Onalaska. Still, Lemmens believes this team has the capability to make it to the Kohl Center for the state tournament for the first time since 2001, his senior year at RHS.
"I think that's a realistic goal as long as we don't think that we're there already, as long as we continue to push until that final second," he said. "That's a realistic goal."
The Hodags will be tested right out of the gate with former Wisconsin Valley Conference rival Wisconsin Rapids in Rapids Nov. 20. The team will travel to Crandon Dec. 1 and have its home and conference-opener Dec. 7 against Medford.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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