Just about anything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team in the second half of its season opener Tuesday night at Shawano.
The Hodags squandered a 15-point halftime lead as Shawano's Nick Sherman made a go-ahead free throw in the final seconds to down Rhinelander 60-59.
The stats were not pretty and told the tale of what went wrong for Rhinelander - 27 turnovers, 26 personal fouls and 2 of 7 shooting from the free throw line in the second half.
"It was just a lot, I mean we did everything we could to hand it back," RHS boys' basketball coach Derek Lemmens said. "We did a lot of positive things, especially early on, but all that was overshadowed by the failure to, late in the game, execute."
Rhinelander failed to score over the final 3:08 of the contest. The Hodags had one more chance after Sherman's go-ahead toss, but Drake Martin missed a shot inside in the final moments.
"We had the ball with five seconds, went the full court, got right on the rim and missed a shot. We had a chance, even at the very end, to win it," Lemmens said.
Rhinelander led by as many as 19 after Quinn Lamers hit a 3 with 1:20 remaining in the first half, but Shawano scored back-to-back buckets to cut the lead to 15 at the break and then continued to eat into Rhinelander's lead in the second half, eventually getting to within four at 49-45 with 8:38 to play.
"We didn't take care of the ball. We tried to make difficult plays instead of just making easy plays, which is what we were doing the first half," Lemmens said. "Guys tried to do too much. And then we fouled, we didn't finish plays - lot of offensive rebounds that led to hoops. We really just stopped doing the little things and executing the details."
"They slowly just chipped away at it and, pretty soon it was gone," Lemmens added.
Sherman burned the Hodags as he finished with a game-high 21 points that including four 3-pointers. Rhinelander limited Carter Weisnicht to 13 points after the 6-8 forward scored 25 against the Hodags in last year's playoff opener.
"He was in check. He got some hoops in transition on steals," Lemmens said. "We threw the ball to him three times and any time you turn the ball over to 6-8 out on the perimeter, that's frustrating. We made some bad mistakes."
Ross Skeen led three Hodags in double digits with 14 points. Lamers added 11 and Martin had 10 as the Hodags shot 40.7% from the field. However the team was only 8 of 16 for the game at the foul line and the turnovers drew most of Lemmens' lament afterward. The Hodags' three primary ball-handlers, Lamers, Jacksen Smith and Peyton Erikson, combined to commit 19 turnovers - part of which Lemmens attributed to the first game of the season.
"November basketball is sloppy. Shawano was a little sloppy too, it was their first game too," he said. "We had some experienced basketball players turning the ball over. It came down to guys (in) new roles, trying to do a little too much and we'll just have to learn from it."
The Hodags (0-1, 0-0 Great Northern) traveled to Stevens Point Friday night in a game that concluded after deadline. Rhinelander opens its home and Great Northern Conference schedule against Northland Pines this coming Friday.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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