Rhinelander’s Peyton Erikson attempts a jump shot over Lakeland’s Nolan St. Germaine during the first half of a Great Northern Conference boys’ basketball game in Minocqua Tuesday, Feb. 11. (Brett LaBore/Lakeland Times)
2/13/2020 7:34:00 AM Hodag hoops ices Lakeland 64-44 to earn season sweep
MINOCQUA - The Rhinelander High School boys' basketball team entered this week knowing it would need a couple of strong performances to bolster its argument for a home WIAA playoff game. A convincing road win over a long-time rival was certainly a good way to start.
Quinn Lamers led Rhinelander with 17 points and the Hodags pulled away as Lakeland went cold in the second half, leading to a 64-44 victory over the Thunderbirds Tuesday night in Minocqua.
Rhinelander (6-11, 4-6 Great Northern), which figures to be jockeying with Lakeland, Antigo and Shawano for positions 6-9 when the coaches vote on regional seeding a week from Sunday, earned its second win of the year over Lakeland (6-11, 4-5 Great Northern) and set itself up to further strengthen its resume Friday night at home against Antigo.
"Now we put ourselves in a really good spot on Friday," Hodag coach Derek Lemmens said. "With Lakeland sweeping Antigo, if we can split with Antigo, we're going to be in a really good spot seeding-wise. We've just got to keep chipping away at it and put ourselves in a good spot."
The Hodags led 42-36 with 10:36 remaining when Lakeland went cold from the field. The T-Birds would not make another field goal for the next 10 minutes, 20 seconds and Rhinelander used a 12-0 run to open up an 18-point lead by the six-minute mark.
"I did not know it was that long," Lemmens said when advised of Lakeland's field goal drought after the game. "That's good news and something those guys should be proud of."
A string of Nolan St. Germaine free throws got Lakeland back to within 54-40 with 5:24 left, but the Hodags ran off nine straight points from there, with the exclamation point being a Lamers and-1 with 2:08 to play.
St. Germaine, Alex Fortier and Michael Ouimette all scored 11 for Lakeland, but the T-Birds shot only 33.3% from the field (12 of 36) and committed 22 turnovers in the contest.
"I thought guys did a nice job position-wise, especially with Michael," Lemmens said. "We didn't allow easy touches, easy flashes. If you make them have to work hard to get the touches and they don't get the touches in the spots they want, you're going to have more success. We haven't done a great job of that and I thought tonight, that's the best job we've done inside. They don't have a lot of explosive players but we didn't allow a ton of drives. It's just something we have to continue to get better at."
Rhinelander trailed 17-14 with 5:52 remaining in the first half before it went on a 14-3 run to close out the half. Jackson Labs tied with a 3 and then Ross Skeen gave Rhinelander the lead on a put back with 4:33 to play. Lamers scored Rhinelander's final seven points of the half, including a 3 from the right corner with five seconds remaining, to give Rhinelander a 28-20 lead at the break.
Rhinelander and Lakeland traded buckets in the first seven minutes of the second half, with the lead fluctuating between five and nine points before the Hodags made their decisive push.
It was another balanced night of scoring for the Hodags, who had six players tally at least seven points. Skeen and Peyton Erikson each had 11, Labs chipped in eight and Jacksen Smith and Drake Martin both finished with seven as the Hodags shot 52.7% (23 of 44) on the night.
"Everyone wants their opportunity and we understand that. That's human nature but when we have this many guys, if we all just play together, we become a very difficult team to guard," Lemmens said.
Rhinelander enters tomorrow night's game at home looking to split the regular season series with Antigo. The Hodags lost 53-47 to the Red Robins in Antigo last month.
"It was not a good game on our behalf and we were still in it," Lemmens said of the first meeting. "I feel like if we execute our game plan, at home, we're going to be in a good spot."
Tip-off will be approximately 7:45 p.m. following the girls' basketball contest between Rhinelander and Antigo.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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