Antigo’s Nevin Cornelius attempts a 3-pointer over Rhinelander’s Kirk Mathews during the second half of a Great Northern Conference boys’ basketball game against Antigo at Sheldon Fieldhouse Friday, Jan. 10. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
1/14/2020 7:34:00 AM Antigo edges Hodag Hoops 53-47
ANTIGO - The Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team struggled again Friday to put away a Great Northern Conference foe in the second half.
Nevin Cornelius scored a game-high 20 points, including a go-ahead 3 as Antigo inched away in the second half to defeat the Hodags 53-47 at Sheldon Fieldhouse.
Cornelius hit a triple with 10:54 remaining that sparked a 7-0 run that gave the Red Robins the lead for good and then hit another 3 to stretch Antigo's lead to five down the stretch.
Rhinelander has held second-half leads in all five of its GNC contests this season but fell to 2-3 and into fifth place in the league standings.
"They made some big shots and we missed some big shots. That's what it came down to," Hodag coach Derek Lemmens said. "We had a couple of lapses there where we tried to do a little too much defensively and it led to some wide open shots that they capitalized on."
Rhinelander (3-7) lost for the first this season when allowing few than 60 points, in part because Antigo (3-6, 2-2 Great Northern) went 14 of 19 from the foul line in the second half and in part because Cornelius and fellow senior Tanner Resch took over.
Antigo's two leading scorers combined for 25 points in the second half, and both nearly finished with double-doubles. Cornelius had nine rebounds to go along with his 20 points, while Resch had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
"That's frustrating, especially when that's one of the emphasis," Lemmens said. "With Resch, we didn't win the position battle. We're already down in the size battle and we didn't win the position battle. With Cornelius, there were times where, for whatever reason, we just didn't know where he was on the floor. We can't do that moving forward."
Though the Hodags committed only 12 turnovers in the game, they struggled to find a rhythm offensively against Antigo's 1-3-1 trap. Rhinelander was held to 37 shots attempts and made more 3-pointers (8) than 2s (7).
"I thought guys were standing a lot. We haven't faced a lot of 1-3-1, but we did have something we were expected to do and we didn't execute it very well," Lemmens said. "I thought we got decent reps in practice, but it's just something we'll just keep working on as the year goes on. We didn't have a great offensive rhythm. We had only three turnovers in the second half, but Antigo just disrupted what we wanted to do offensively and it led to us having trouble making shots."
Rhinelander led virtually the entire first half, and was ahead 18-10 with 5:59 remaining before the break, but Antigo closed the half on a 8-2 run to cut the lead to two.
Rhinelander and Antigo traded buckets early in the second half, with Antigo tying the game on four separate occasions before a Cornelius free throw put the Robins in front 26-25. Rhinelander answered with back-to-back buckets by Drake Martin, but Antigo went inside to the 6-3 Resch for back-to-back scores to give the Robins a 30-29 lead.
Ross Skeen hit a 3 to put Rhinelander up 32-29, but Cornelius answered from deep for the Robins, who never trailed the rest of the way. Rhinelander got to within one on a Jacksen Smith free throw with 6:20 left, but Elliott Orgeman answered with his only 3 of the game to put Antigo ahead 40-36.
Quinn Lamers finished with a team-high 15 points for Rhinelander including a 3 with 27.9 seconds remaining that cut Antigo's lead to 49-47, but Orgeman hit a pair of free throws on the other end and then Cornelius recorded a steal, and made two subsequent free throws after getting fouled with 9.4 seconds left to ice the game.
Skeen had 10 points while Martin and Peyton Erikson both had eight. Antigo held a 35-24 edge in rebounding in the contest.
Elsewhere in the GNC, Medford defeated Mosinee 68-53 to take command of the conference race at 5-0, 2 1/2 games ahead of a three-way tie for second between Antigo, Lakeland and Mosinee. The Hodags dropped to fifth, three games behind Medford and only a half game up on both Northland Pines and Tomahawk in sixth.
"This changes our goals a little bit but, at the end of the day, our goal is to get a little better every day," Lemmens said, looking at the conference picture. "We just have to keep doing that and, as the season comes to an end, we want to be playing our best basketball."
Rhinelander travels to Tomahawk this evening.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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