CRANDON - Crandon may be one of the favorites in the Northern Lakes Conference, but the Cardinals were not in Rhinelander's league Saturday.
The Hodags reeled off a 24-2 run in the first quarter and never looked back, defeating the Cardinals 65-38 in a non-conference boys' basketball game at Crandon.
Rhinelander (2-0, 0-0 Great Northern) exploded for 21 points in a 3-minute, 35-second stretch in the first quarter to put the game firmly out of reach. Rhinelander's lead never dropped below 17 points the rest of the way.
"That was my biggest fear, how were we going to come out today," RHS boys' basketball coach Derek Lemmens said. "I felt like we came out with good energy and just took it to them and made them uncomfortable right from the start."
The Hodags were dominant inside with 6-6 senior Shane White and 6-3 senior Brett Mathews. White finished with a game-high 20 points, including two thunderous dunks. Mathews had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Both players could have had larger stat lines, but sat part of the second quarter and most of the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
"They played really well and did a good job of not giving up those second chances," Lemmens said. "(Their stats) are without a fourth quarter. The nice thing about that is I pulled guys and they are pleased. They're not upset that they are missing out on time. They're happy that they got the job done and that the other guys were going to get an opportunity."
The Hodags pushed the lead to 42-20 at halftime and 56-31 after three quarters.
Rhinelander's pressure defense stifled Crandon (1-1, 0-0 Northern Lakes). The Cardinals unofficially committed 25 turnovers, 17 of which were generated by Hodag steals. Point guard Brad Kenote had five steals to go along with an 11-point effort. White added four steals.
Rhinelander used those turnovers to generate an uptempo style offense. The Hodags had several fast break points, including both of White's dunks. White was fouled on a third dunk attempt, but made both free throws.
"It shows that we are a better offensive team in transition when we push the ball," Lemmens said of Saturday's performance. "We played well, but we were still sloppy. We missed a few layups, a lot of shots hard off the glass. You can tell it was our second game. That's exactly what it was. We can't forget that, especially with the big gap in between (games)."
Rhinelander shot 40 percent (25 of 62) from the field in its first game action since earning a 59-42 victory at Wisconsin Rapids Nov. 20.
Kory Kincaid had 20 points and six rebounds for the Cardinals in the loss.
"That Kincaid can play," Lemmens said. "He's a nice player. He was the focus of our defense and he still found ways to score. He can shoot the ball. He can pass the ball. He just does a lot of things well. He's going to be a handful for players. Their role players, as I saw (in their game) against Pines, I think they are good players."
Kincaid made five straight free throws midway through the third quarter to cut Rhinelander's lead to 48-31, but the Hodags finished the quarter on 8-0 run. Colton Volkmann scored on a putback and Mathews splashed a 3-pointer to push the lead to 61-31 with just over six minutes to play. At that point, the Hodags started pulling their starters.
"We did a good job of getting the job done right away, getting it done early so we could get other guys time," he said. "These are the games where you are nervous. It's a no-win situation. It's a smaller school. We are supposed to come in here and win, so us coming out like that helps."
Rhinelander travels to Merrill for a non-conference test this evening.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce