Rhinelander’s Kenedy Van Zile attempts a shot during the first half of a Great Northern Conference girls’ basketball game against Antigo at Sheldon Fieldhouse Friday, Jan. 10. Van Zile scored 18 points in the Hodags’ 77-41 win. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
1/14/2020 7:30:00 AM Lady Hodags use big second half to down Antigo 77-41
ANTIGO - Antigo kept pace with Rhinelander for one half Friday night, but the Lady Hodags flexed their muscles in the second half and showed why they are the reigning Great Northern Conference champions.
Cynthia Beavers scored 20 points, leading three Hodags in double digits, as Rhinelander pulled away to a 77-41 victory at Sheldon Fieldhouse.
Antigo briefly tied the game at 21 with just over three minutes to play in the first half, but Rhinelander used an 11-4 run to take a seven point lead at the break and then proceeded to outscore the Robins 45-16 in the second half.
"We didn't hit many shots in the first half, got it going in the second half," Rhinelander coach Ryan Clark said. "When you play up and down like we do, eventually the other team is going to wear out and we were able to take advantage."
Rhinelander forced 35 Antigo turnovers in the game and got going in the second half after Antigo cooled down from the field. The Red Robins were an even 50% from the floor (12 of 24) in the first half, but only 21% (6 of 28) in the second half.
Antigo briefly tied it as Alonna Weix scored a basket and a foul with 3:04 remaining in the first half, but Weix missed the free throw and Beavers was fouled going for the rebound. Beavers promptly hit two free throws on the other end and Antigo did not threaten the rest of the way.
The Hodags opened the second half on an 8-2 run to extend the lead to 13 and slowly pulled away throughout the second half.
"I thought Antigo played really physical and they made some shots," Clark said of the first half. "We turned them over in the first half some, but a lot of dead ball turnovers. We just had to make an adjustment. I thought we were coming up a little bit too early off that press. They'd just pop over the top of us. We just needed to sit back a little bit, make them dribble a few more dribbles and then read that pass."
Rhinelander led at the break despite shooting only 24% (6 of 25) from the field, but that was offset by a 17-of-22 half from the free throw line against a physical Antigo team that committed 15 fouls over the first 18 minutes. Beavers was 9 of 10 by herself from the line in the first half.
"We got to the line a ton. I think we're getting better in all areas of the game," Clark said. "We can get to the line. We can hit free throws, Cynthia especially."
Kenedy Van Zile added 18 points for the Hodags, who shot 40.7% overall for the night (24 of 54). Weix led Antigo with 12 points.
Not all the news was good for the Hodags, however, especially on the injury front. Junior Rebecca Lawrence finished with 16 points, but left the game in the second half after she and Antigo's Greta Parsons got tangled up going after a rebound. Parsons fell backward, taking Lawrence to the floor with her and then landed on top of Lawrence's leg.
The extent of the injury was not immediately known. Lawrence is the Hodags' second-leading scorer behind Van Zile.
"It's too early to tell ... praying that it's nothing major," Clark said as Lawrence was seen icing her left knee on the bench late in the second half. "I asked how it feels now compared to when it first happened she said it feels a lot better. I think it was just a lot of force and pressure coming down on her. Hopefully nothing serious, not just for basketball, but for a young lady who's such a great kid and great athlete. Praying for her for sure, hoping it's good news."
"Just a bad luck situation with two kids playing hard," he added.
That injury was on top of news the Hodags received following the D.C. Everest game that junior guard Ella Schiek would miss time due to a hand injury that Clark said she initially sustained in the Dec. 20 home win over Crandon.
"I always thought she could be a real tough defender for us, and she was really starting to get into the role the last couple of weeks, and she was starting to hit some 3s too," Clark said. "Without Ella, we're a little bit different."
Sophia McGinnis started in Schiek's place, finishing with six points.
Spreading the wealth
Rhinelander had nine different players score in the contest, including late 3s by junior McKenzie Gilman and Ava Lamers with the game well in hand. Rhinelander got eight 3-pointers made by five different players in the contest.
"I just think we're getting better. I think we have a team that's playing well," Clark said.
Rhinelander (8-4, 5-0 Great Northern) closed out the first half of the GNC season at Tomahawk Monday night in a game that concluded after deadline. The Hodags return home Friday night to face Marshfield in a non-conference contest.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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