RHS girls' basketball coach Mark Jacobson instructs his team on a drill during a recent practice. The Lady Hodags scrimmage Crandon tonight at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
Date Opponent Time
Nov. 23 Wausau West (at D.C. Everest) 6 p.m.
Nov. 24 at D.C. Everest 7:45 p.m.
Nov. 27 WITTENBERG-BIRNAMWOOD 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 at Merrill 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 7 at Medford* 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 at Tomahawk* 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 18 ANTIGO* 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 27 Manitowoc (Sentry Classic) 11 a.m.
Dec. 28 Hortonville (Sentry Classic) 12:45 p.m.
Jan. 4 at Mosinee* 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8 LAKELAND 6 p.m.
Jan. 11 NORTHLAND PINES* 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 22 WAUSAU EAST 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 MEDFORD* 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 TOMAHAWK* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 at Antigo* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 at Marshfield 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 8 MOSINEE* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12 at Lakeland* 8 p.m.
Feb. 15 at Northland Pines* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 18 OCONTO FALLS 7:30 p.m.
11/19/2012 8:30:00 AM New look for Lady Hodags Team replaces coach, five players in rotation
The 2012-13 season is going to be a season of change for the Rhinelander High School girls' basketball team.
Mark Jacobson takes the reins as the head coach for the Lady Hodags, who are now on their third head coach in the last five seasons. Jacobson inherits a squad that has three of the top eight players from last year's rotation returning.
Jacobson, who was the freshman coach last season, got the head job in August. He replaces Anita Mattek who resigned in June following back-to-back top-three finishes in the Great Northern Conference. He said the first week-plus of practice has been spent giving his team a crash course in the offensive and defensive schemes he wants to run.
"It's been a trial by fire for the girls, but they've been working hard," he said. "I had to give up a little bit of conditioning to get my (systems) in, but now we can transition to a regular offense."
So what should we expect from Jacobson's team?
"You're going to see basically a pattern offense," he said. "We're going to try to push the ball at opportune times. We're going to throw some different looks in when we need to, defensively. There will be some changes and some stuff that I've kept consistent for the kids."
The Hodags lost four seniors from last year's rotation - Katie Sweeney, Lauren Barnes, Amy Berry and Lexi Allen - and seven seniors overall. The team took another hit in October when leading score and rebounder Brianna Jorgensen suffered a season-ending knee injury. All told the Hodags are missing 31.9 points per game from an offense that was third in the GNC a year ago, averaging 47.9 points per game.
The three players who return from last year's rotation are senior Emily Fortier (3.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, per game), junior Sydnei Smith (4.3 points, 1.5 steals, per game) and sophomore Kylie Hunter (5.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, pre game).
"I feel I have a pretty nice core," Jacobson said. "Of course, we lost Bri-J (Jorgensen). She was going to play a pretty nice role. I saw her having a big season. Syd Smith has been stepping up, Kylie Hunter, Emily Fortier, Mara Meyer and Molly Willging have stepped up. Looking at those girls, they're going to have a significant role on our team."
Jacobson said Fortier, a 5-10 senior and the daughter of former RHS boys' basketball coach Rich Fortier, will have a larger role in the post because of Jorgensen's injury.
"She's going to have to," he said. "In a situation when you lose a player like Brianna, it's interesting to see who's going to step up and contribute in the same manner that she did."
Beyond those five, Jacobson said spots are up for grabs in the rotation and on the varsity roster.
"After that, there is open competition for more places," he said. "As of (Friday), although I have most of my pieces in place, I'm still leaving a few spots open to see who wants to go get them."
Despite the losses, Jacobson expects his team to make some noise in the GNC.
"Our goal would be to compete for conference and my biggest goal is that, as the season moves on, we get progressively better," he said.
Rhinelander was picked to finish fourth in the GNC by WisSports.net. That prediction was made without factoring in the loss of Jorgensen to the Hodags' team. Northland Pines, Medford and Lakeland were picked as the top three teams in the league.
"The way I see it, there isn't going to be an easy game," Jacobson said. "If you don't show up and bring a good game, inevitably, you're going to lose."
The Hodags open the season this weekend in the "Blow the Whistle on Cancer" tournament at D.C. Everest. The Hodags will face Wausau West Friday and D.C. Everest Saturday. Rhinelander's home opener will be Nov. 27 against non-conference foe Wittenberg-Birnamwood. The team begins GNC play Dec. 7 at Medford.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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