Rhinelander’s Kenedy Van Zile heads to the sideline after hitting a 3-pointer during the first half of a non-conference girls’ basketball game against Marshfield Thursday, Feb. 20 at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium. Van Zile became Rhinelander’s all-time leading scorer with the basket. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
2/22/2020 7:35:00 AM Van Zile sets RHS all-time scoring mark as Lady Hodags edge Marshfield 50-47
Kenedy Van Zile hit a big 3 at the start of Thursday night's non-conference game against Marshfield and another one toward the end.
The first triple officially cemented the senior's position as the most prolific scorer in Rhinelander High School history. The last was key as the Hodags, behind a 27-point night from Van Zile, rallied past the Tigers for a 50-47 win at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
Van Zile needed three points to pass Mike Flory's mark of 1,566 points and become the all-time leading scorer, regardless of gender, in Rhinelander basketball history. She got that on Rhinelander's first shot attempt of the night, a 3 from the right wing, moments into the first half.
After the game, Van Zile said she was not quite sure how to put the weight of her accomplishment in perspective. She said she never dreamed she would end her career as the greatest scorer ever to come through Rhinelander.
"Not at all. I didn't even know there were records for these types of things. Just play my game and it all came to me," she said. "I was thinking last night first shot. I needed three points and, hopefully, it will be 3-0 when I get it. It wasn't 3-0, but I made it and I was really excited. Warming up I was like, 'Oh, I don't know,' but I did it. I made it. I was excited. Everyone was cheering. I was overwhelmed. It was amazing."
The game was stopped after Van Zile's record-breaking 3, which came roughly 1:15 into the first half. Van Zile received a standing ovation from the crowd and coach Ryan Clark spoke briefly on the accomplishments of the senior star.
"I can't say enough about what a career she's had. She's set the standard pretty high for young girls coming up in our program," Clark said afterward. "I thought the entire crowd gave her a really nice ovation, recognized her accomplishment. She's been a four-year starter. The fans in the community know her pretty well and have watched her play and have enjoyed watching her play on the court."
With the milestone out of the way, the game turned into a dogfight between the Great Northern Conference champion Hodags and the Wisconsin Valley Conference champion Tigers. Neither team led by more than six points in the contest and the lead changed hands nine times in the second half alone.
Rhinelander trailed 47-44 following a Danielle Minsaas 3 from the right wing with 1:38 remaining. The Hodags answered on the other end after Van Zile missed a free throw. Ella Schiek corralled the offensive rebound and chucked it to Van Zile on the left wing, who drained the triple to tie the game with 1:21 remaining.
The teams traded turnovers over the next three possessions, giving Rhinelander the ball back with roughly 15 seconds remaining. Marshfield elected to foul Cynthia Beavers on the inbound play to put her to the foul line and give itself one last chance with the ball. Beavers hit one of two free throws to put Rhinelander ahead, and then Ella Schiek was called for a double dribble after securing an offensive rebound, giving Marshfield one last chance with 9.9 seconds remaining.
Kaydee Johnson attempted a hook shot in the lane that missed with roughly five seconds left. Beavers secured the rebound, was fouled and calmly sank both free throws with 3.6 seconds left. Maddie Michaelis missed a desperation half-court shot at the buzzer in an attempt to send the game to overtime.
Beavers finished the night with 12 points, including 6 of 8 from the foul line.
"The second half, she just came through again," Clark said. "The girls did a nice job of putting the ball in Cynthia's hands at the end of the game. She's our best free throw shooter and, to her credit, she knocks down those two free throws and the game's over. She's done it all year. We've won a lot of close games with Cynthia at the free throw line for us."
Rhinelander led 14-8 early in the first half before Marshfield roared back with an 8-0 run to take the lead. The lead changed hands four more times in the first half before Marshfield took a 26-23 lead into the break.
Back-to-back baskets by Van Zile gave Rhinelander a 40-38 advantage with 7:31 remaining, but Marshfield responded with the next six points to go up 44-38 with 5:00 left. Rhinelander answered again with a pair of free throws from Van Zile and a Beavers layup off a steal to tie the game with 3:01 to play.
"I thought our girls showed a lot of resilience in this game," Clark said. "We went down 44-40 with about four and a half, five minutes to go and battled right back to tie it. I thought this was a good, gut-check game for our team against a really nice opponent."
The third member of Rhinelander's big three, Rebecca Lawrence, was held to seven points as Rhinelander shot 39.5% from the field (15 of 38). Marshfield was balanced at the top. Minsaas had 11 points, Desirae Weisenberger had 10 and Kaydee Johnson chipped in nine as the Tigers shot 46.2% (18 of 39).
Rhinelander (16-5, 11-0 Great Northern) closed out the regular season Friday night at home against Tomahawk in a game that concluded after deadline. The Hodags will host a WIAA regional semifinal game this coming Friday against either Merrill or Wausau East.
Freelancer Bob Mainhardt contributed to this report.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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