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February 23, 2018

Rhinelander’s Junior Howard attempts a 3 over Hortonville’s Justin Bonikowske during the second half of a non-conference boys’ basketball game at the Hortonville High School fieldhouse Saturday, Feb. 10. Howard made four 3-pointers and scored all 21 of his points in the second half as the Hodags rallied to defeat Hortonville, 75-67. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
Rhinelander’s Junior Howard attempts a 3 over Hortonville’s Justin Bonikowske during the second half of a non-conference boys’ basketball game at the Hortonville High School fieldhouse Saturday, Feb. 10. Howard made four 3-pointers and scored all 21 of his points in the second half as the Hodags rallied to defeat Hortonville, 75-67. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
2/13/2018 7:30:00 AM
Howard, Hodags get hot, beat Hortonville

Jeremy Mayo
Sports Editor


HORTONVILLE - Not much went right offensively for the Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team on Saturday night, but shooters shoot and the Hodags eventually found their shot.

After failing to make a 3-pointer in the first half, the Hodags made eight of them in the second half and rallied past Hortonville 75-67 in a non-conference game with sectional seeding implications.

Junior Howard's play was a microcosm of the Hodags' turnaround. After going 0-for-6 from the field in the first half, he scored 21 points - all in the second - and made four key 3-pointers as part of a 23-8 run that gave Rhinelander the lead for good.

"It was a very slow start from the field but once guys found a rhythm, guys caught fire and the percentages played out," Hodag coach Derek Lemmens said. "Guys just have to have a little more confidence and we've have to find a way to get that going a little earlier. We can't wait until the second half to start making shots."

Rhinelander started the night 2 of 15 from the field, and was 0 for 11 from distance in the first half. The Hodags trailed by as many as nine points in the first half before clawing back to pull within two at the break, 28-26.

"Defensively, they stepped up in the first half and played a little better. I thought we got great minutes off the bench from Jared (Haug), from Q(uade) and from Schickert. Defensively, we were able to hang around just by grinding it out," Lemmens said.

Owen White, who scored a game-high 29 points for Rhinelander, tied the game at 28 moments into the second half before Hortonville regained control with a 10-3 spurt. That's when the Hodags finally found life offensively.

White connected on the Hodags' first 3 of the game with 16:15 left in the second. About a minute and a half later Howard made his first triple in seven attempts, and then he hit another with 12:56 left to give Rhinelander its first lead at 41-38.

Hortonville eventually tied the game at 46, but Howard answered with another 3 with 10:12 remaining to spark an 8-0 run that gave the Hodags the lead for good.

"Those two, when they're both playing well, that's a very dangerous combination," Lemmens said of White and Howard, who combined to score 50 points. "We got some big shots from other guys to help keep Hortonville honest and allow Owen to work in the post."

Rhinelander led by 10 with four minutes to play. Hortonville cut the lead to four and had a chance to make it one with about 1:20 to play when freshman Parker Lawrence - who was 2 of 14 from 3-point range - missed a 3. The Hodags secured a rebound and salted the game away from the foul line.

Cole Warning led Hortonville with 19 points while Jayqon Owens added 14 for the Polar Bears, who shot 37 percent (22 of 59) on the night.

"We dodged some bullets," Lemmens said. "We didn't necessarily make things happen defensively down the stretch, but they missed opportunities and that's a big difference. We're fortunate that they missed some shots. There's a lot to improve on, a lot we can learn from, but it's a great win on the road, especially going into the seeding meeting."

The sectional seeding meeting takes place this coming weekend, but first the Hodags will try to attend to the business of clinching their fifth Great Northern Conference championship in six years. They can clinch at least a share of the conference title with a win at home against Medford tonight.

"I think we did what we needed to do, but now we've got conference on our mind," Lemmens said.

Jeremy Mayo may be reached at jeremy@rivernewsonline.com.





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