The Rhinelander High School boys’ basketball team varsity award winners pose for a photograph following the team’s banquet in the RHS commons Sunday, March 11. Pictured, from left to right, are Reese Flores, Junior Howard, Brad Comer, Owen White, Markus Johnson, Brad Quade and Jared Haug. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
3/13/2018 7:32:00 AM Seniors honored at Hodag hoops banquet White named team MVP
It was sooner than the Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team had hoped, but the Hodags put a bow on a successful 2017-18 campaign with their team banquet Sunday in the RHS commons.
Rhinelander, following a 20-2 season that saw the team climb as high as No. 8 in the Associated Press Division 2 poll, was hoping to still be in contention for a gold ball at the WIAA state tournament later this week in Madison, but those hopes were dashed in an overtime playoff upset courtesy of Medford last Friday. Still, at the banquet coach Derek Lemmens highlighted the numerous accomplishments for this year's team, including an undefeated GNC campaign and a 15-game winning streak that allowed the Hodags to earn a No. 1 seed for the WIAA tournament.
"Our season ended sooner than we wanted to," Lemmens said. "We're going to watch (the NCAA tournament) and we're going to see upsets. We're going to see those things and realize that's just what happens sometimes in this sport, unfortunately. But, at the end of the day, when we look back at this, it was an incredibly successful season and these guys have a lot to be proud of."
The majority of the varsity portion of the awards banquet recognized the Hodags' class of seven seniors for the contributions they've given to the RHS basketball program over the last four years. Not surprisingly, one of those seniors, Owen White, took home the team's most valuable player award. White led Rhinelander in virtually every statistical category this season, averaging 20.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 3.0 blocks and 3.8 steals per game.
"All around, he had an incredible career here at RHS," Lemmens said.
In all, six of the Hodags' seven seniors received some sort of award handed out by the team. Reese Flores earned the team's Mr. Defense award; Brad Quade and Jared Haug shared the team's hustle award; Brad Comer and Markus Johnson were each given Hodag awards for demonstrating traits that exemplify the Hodag basketball programs; and Comer, Flores and White were recognized as the team's captains for the 2017-18 season.
"They've left a legacy," Lemmens said of the senior class. "They've, again, raised the bar and they've left the players coming up with something to reach for. They're also going to leave here greater people."
Lemmens said having so many talented seniors on the team made it difficult to determine who should get which award.
"It really was a difficult task because we had so many talented players that did so many things well," he said. "We really constantly were like, 'Well, this person could be (this award winner), but that person could be too.' When it comes down to it, we picked who we thought was the top of that (category)."
The only underclassman to receive an award from the varsity coaching staff was point guard Junior Howard who was named the team's most improved player. Howard averaged 10.7 points and 2.6 assists per game this season. He also received one of the team's three Hodag awards.
"He has some minutes last year but this year he really exploded on to the scene," Lemmens said. "He puts in a ton of time all year round. He just loves the game of basketball and you can see it because all of his hard work is starting to show now. We saw great improvement and we're looking for even more improvement going into next year."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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