Kenedy Van Zile poses for a photograph prior to the 2019-20 girls’ basketball season. Van Zile scored 32 points Friday night at Northland Pines to break the Rhinelander High School all-time career scoring record. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
12/10/2019 7:35:00 AM Van Zile breaks RHS all-time scoring mark as Lady Hodags down Eagles
Kenedy Van Zile is now the most prolific scorer in Rhinelander High School girls' basketball history.
The senior guard scored 32 points Friday night as the Lady Hodags pulled away to a 79-38 win over Northland Pines to open the Great Northern Conference season in Eagle River.
According to RHS girls' basketball coach Ryan Clark, those 32 points give Van Zile 1,232 points for her career, surpassing the school record of 1,230 set by Becky Knutson.
"What a great accomplishment for a good young lady," Clark said. "As a coach, this is my 15th year coaching and she's the most talented player I've coached, boy or girl. It's been such a nice treat to coach her. I'm real happy for her.
"There were a lot of good girls' players but obviously Becky Knutson went on to have a nice career at (UW-Green Bay). That's pretty neat company to be a part of," he added.
There was no ceremony during the game to honor Van Zile's milestone - which came on a 3 midway through a second half that saw the Hodags outscore the Eagles 41-13 - largely because it was not confirmed that Van Zile broke the record until the following day.
The team's scorebook credited Van Zile for 29 points, inadvertently giving one of her first half 3s to Ella Schiek. A review of the game footage Saturday confirmed the error and that Van Zile had scored 32 to break the record.
"She's just a tremendous scorer," Clark said. "She can score on all levels. Very few kids at this age can shoot equally well off the dribble as they can off the catch. She can do both, and she can also attack the basket. She scores at all three levels and she's just really hard to defend."
The 32 points were a season high for Van Zile. Rhinelander snapped a two-game losing streak on Friday night and won their 17th straight game in the GNC.
Northland Pines hung with Rhinelander early in the contest, down 20-18 roughly 10 minutes in, but Rhinelander took control once it switched to a man-to-man full court press and the Eagles never recovered. Rhinelander finished the first half on an 18-7 run to take a 38-25 lead at the break and was able to send the game into running time in the second half once the lead ballooned to more than 35 points.
"To Pines' credit, usually in years past we could get them to speed up and kind of force the action and force the tempo, but they really came out very patient," Clark said. "They would back dribble instead of getting into that double team and pass through it. They just kind of kept hanging around."
"We switched to our man press and just really made them dribble the basketball and take away all the passing lanes and the relief passes and make them work against us."
Rhinelander had plenty of balance behind Van Zile. Rebecca Lawrence chipped in 11 points and Cynthia Beavers had eight as 11 different players scored for the Hodags.
"We had great energy," Clark said. "We pressed relentlessly like I like. Kids were flying around. Offensively, (we had) really good ball movement against their man and their zone. We've just got to clean some things up."
Clark added that the Hodags got some strong minutes defensively from Ella Schiek and Megan Brown as team held an opponent to less than 40 points for the first time this season. Teresa Kopanski had 11 points to lead Northland Pines.
The Hodags needed a bounce-back performance after dropping back-to-back games over the Thanksgiving weekend at the Tom Kislow Memorial tournament in Stevens Point. Clark said a full week of practice was exactly what the doctor ordered.
"At the Point tournament I just thought we were missing that fight you'd usually see from our players in the past. Regardless of who we played tonight, you could see that fight," he said. "They were flying all over the court, deflections and steals. I think our home fans expect to see that from us and we need to come through and put on a good show for them."
This Friday's game against Mosinee kicks off a tough stretch of games for the Hodags, who then travel to Medford and host Crandon before heading to Watertown for a holiday tournament.
"We have three really quality opponents coming up but I like where we're headed," Clark said.
Friday's game tips off at 7:15 p.m. at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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