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January 26, 2020

Rhinelander’s Rebecca Lawrence has the ball stripped by Menomonie’s Shelby Thompson (21) on a layup attempt during the second half of a girls’ basketball game at UW-Stevens Point’s Berg Gymnasium Friday, Nov. 29. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
Rhinelander’s Rebecca Lawrence has the ball stripped by Menomonie’s Shelby Thompson (21) on a layup attempt during the second half of a girls’ basketball game at UW-Stevens Point’s Berg Gymnasium Friday, Nov. 29. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
12/3/2019 7:30:00 AM
Double trouble
Lady Hodags fall to Menomonie, Wausau Newman at Kislow Memorial tournament

Jeremy Mayo
Sports Editor

STEVENS POINT - Coach Ryan Clark expected some growing pains as the Rhinelander High School girls' basketball team set out on its Great Northern Conference title defense. This past weekend's Tom Kislow Memorial tournament may have uncovered some of the team's rough edges.

Rhinelander's offense went stagnant at times, and the defense gave up key runs at inopportune times, as the Lady Hodags dropped both of their games on the UW-Stevens Point campus. Rhinelander fell 45-38 to Menomonie on Friday night and then lost 60-53 to Wausau Newman on Saturday.

In both instances, Rhinelander struggled to finish off the game. The Hodags were up five on Menomonie with nine minutes to play but managed only one basket the rest of the way. Rhinelander trailed Newman by two with 8:16 remaining and then promptly surrendered a game-deciding 11-2 run.

"I think we have a long way to go as far as a basketball team. It's in them. I think the toughness is there, but they're not bringing it very well," Clark said following Saturday's loss.

Menomonie 45, Rhinelander 38

Rhinelander led 36-31 after a Cynthia Beavers layup in transition with 9:02 to play when things began to go sour of the Hodags on Friday. In short succession the Mustangs scored on a possession that included three offensive rebounds, Rhinelander's Kenedy Van Zile picked up her fourth foul, and Emily Schwartz knocked down a 3 to tie the game at 36.

The game remained knotted for the next three minutes, but the Hodags could not get anything going. Shelby Thornton got a layup to give Menomonie the lead with 4:33 remaining and Emma Mommsen scored on an offensive rebound to extend the lead to four.

"They got us frustrated, got us kind of stagnant. I think we got a little bit frustrated that we got some open shots and we missed them," Clark said. "Then I think our response to that when we stated to miss was to get a steal really quick on defense. They just passed through it and they got some open 3s or they got some easy rebounds."

Brynn Brzycki scored high off the glass to trim the lead to 40-38 with 2:41 remaining and the Hodags got a stop, but then Helen Chen got a steal and a finish as Rhinelander tried to push the ball up the floor to put Menomonie back up four with 2:12 remaining.

Rhinelander struggled against a taller Menomonie lineup, shooting 35% from the field (17 of 39), failing to make a 3-pointer and getting outrebounded by a 44-26 margin.

"It was one of those games when your shooting percentage is low, you're not hitting very many shots, you've got to play really good defense and you've got to win the boards," Clark said. "The difference in the game was they really beat us up on the glass."

Rhinelander raced out to a 12-3 lead to start the game but went stagnant from there as Menomonie used a 12-2 run to take the lead at 15-14 with 4:56 remaining in the half. Rhinelander answered with an 8-0 spurt to retake the lead and went into halftime up 24-19.

The Hodags weren't able to do much to extend the lead in the second half. The largest the advantage got was six points before the Mustangs raced back.

Van Zile, despite foul trouble, led all scorers with 20 points, but was only 8 of 18 from the field. Beavers and Rebecca Lawrence each had six for the Hodags.

Thornton had 15 for Menomonie and Mommsen added 10 as the Mustangs shot 38% from the field (18 of 50).

"More than anything, we really struggled getting rebounds," Clark said. "We shot terrible and we've got to work on our offense. We've got to be more than just Kenedy. We've got to finish inside. We had a lot of shots inside throughout the course of the game that we didn't finish. We just kind of tossed it up there with a little bit of contact instead of leading with the shoulder or repivoting for a better shot."

Wausau Newman 60, Rhinelander 53

Another lull Saturday, this one late in the first half, proved to be too much for Rhinelander to overcome.

Newman closed out the final seven minutes of the first on a 15-7 run to take a 32-22 lead at the break. Rhinelander, despite several second half runs, never got the lead back.

Every time Rhinelander made a push, Newman had an answer. Twice Rhinelander got to within a single possession. Newman responded with runs of at least eight points both times.

"We'd cut it to two and they'd hit some 3s, or they'd get to the basket and get an and-1," Clark said. "They're very resilient. That's why Newman is a favorite to get back to the state tournament for Division 5. They have great resolve. They do a pretty good job of taking care of the basketball."

The Hodags scored the first seven points of the second half to pull within 32-29, but Julia Seidel hit a 3 from the top of the key on Newman's next possession.

Jadelyn Ganski added another 3 and Lauren Shields scored in transition to make it 40-29 Newman.

Rhinelander chipped away, eventually getting to within 44-42 on a pair of Lawrence free throws with 8:18 remaining, but Seidel drove to the basket and got a foul for a three-point play moments later and Newman added 3s by Jaida Heinz and Shields to put the lead back to 11 again with 5:58 remaining.

The Cardinals were 8 of 18 from beyond the arc, which Clark called the difference in the game.

"You've got to guard the 3-point line," he said. "Basketball, nowadays, is different than it was 15-20 years ago. It used to be points in the paint was the big thing and if you got more points in the paint, you're probably going to win. Now it's if you give up more 3s, you're probably going to get beat. I didn't think we did a good job of guarding the 3 and Newman hit a few big 3s that really hurt us."

Van Zile again led all scorers with 17 points, but struggled to get there. She was 6 of 20 from the field and was limited to four points on 1 of 9 shooting in the first half.

"She's got to get better. I think she will," Clark said. "She's been around for so long now. This is year No. 4. Everyone has a lot of film on her so you have to continue to get better. They know the little moves she wants to make to get to the basket. They know she can shoot the 3. They're going to shade to her a little bit off the ball. It's imperative that she keeps working."

Lawrence added 16 points, Beavers had nine and Ella Schiek chipped in seven for the Hodags, who shot 38% (18 of 47) from the floor.

Shields had 14 points to lead four Cardinals in double digits. Alex Grankel had 13, Ganski had 11 and Angela Donath scored 10 off the bench - all in the first half.

Rhinelander (1-2, 0-0 Great Northern) opens up the conference season at Northland Pines on Friday. Clark said a light early December schedule with only two games in the first 16 days will help his team prepare for the heart of the season.

"We have a full week, two weeks, to just really get in shape, really hit the strength and conditioning and just really clean up some things, especially offensively and defensively," he said.

Jeremy Mayo may be reached at

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