Rhinelander’s Rebecca Lawrence puts up a shot against Antigo’s Greta Parsons during a GNC girls’ basketball game at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium Friday, Feb. 14. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
2/18/2020 7:33:00 AM Lady Hodags pour it on Antigo 74-28
Friday night's home contest against Antigo was a tale of two halves for the Rhinelander High School girls' basketball team.
The Hodags struggled for the first 12 minutes of the game but then kicked in to warp speed and routed the Red Robins 74-28 at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
Antigo slowed the game down in the first half and was down 18-14 with less than six minutes to play in the first half when the Hodags switched presses, started turning the Red Robins over with alarming consistency and went on a 21-3 run to close out the half.
Rhinelander opened the second half by scoring 24 straight points over the first 6:20 of the half, turning the game into a rout.
"We just denied the ball in bounds, applied really strong ball pressure and then we could really turn them over and get this game up and down. It's a credit to the girls," coach Ryan Clark said. "They have the ability to play multiple defenses. Not very many teams can do that. We have the ability to do that with lots of talented athletes. That was the difference. We got them up and down and kind of turned the game right there."
Kenedy Van Zile scored 28 points for the Hodags, but it was Cynthia Beavers who had the hot hand in the first half as she finished with 19 points.
Antigo took a page out of Rhinelander's defensive playbook, using the same triangle-and-2 defense the Hodags used last Tuesday to slow down Lakeland in an effort to keep the game close. The problem was Antigo chose the wrong two players to guard. By locking up on Van Zile and Rebecca Lawrence, the Robins left Beavers open and she connected on five 3-pointers in the first half, including a string of 3s on three straight possessions to push the lead to 33-14 with 3:07 left in the half.
"If you're not going to guard Cynthia, I'll live with her shooting it 25 times," Clark said on a night when the Hodags shot 12 of 29 from beyond the arc. "She got some open 3s. Obviously in the triangle-and-2, you're going to give up the 3-point shot. A couple times I thought we kind of took the first open shot, not realizing they were going to give it to us every single time. We could have worked it around a little better, but I wanted this to be a little quicker possessions to start the game, just so we could get the tempo up and could wear them down."
The Robins were led by Greta Parsons, who finished with eight points - all in the first half. Lawrence, and Megan Brown each scored eight for Rhinelander.
Van Zile on cusp of history
Rhinelander left its starters in much later than it normally does as Van Zile chased history. She entered the night needing 31 points to break Mike Flory's all-time school scoring record of 1,566 career points. She had 20 with nine minutes remaining when the running clock rule went into effect with the Hodags up by more than 40 points.
"When we realized we were only 10, 12 points away and had all the subs in there, I'm like, 'You know what, let's see if we can get it and see what happens,'" Clark said.
Van Zile got her 28th point of the night on a 3 with 1:47 remaining and missed two contested 3s for the record late in the contest. Antigo called a timeout and switched its defense to double team Van Zile with 1:29 to play while the Hodags burned two timeouts and committed a foul in the final 15 seconds in an attempt to give Van Zile one more look at the record.
Afterward, Clark said he was frustrated by Antigo coach Carla Wissbroecker's tactics over the final minutes.
"We got close and then they call timeout and put two kids on Kenedy. I don't agree with that. I don't think that's the right way to do it," he said. "I've been in that situation numerous times at Northland Pines where teams are trying to get their 1,000th point at home. If it's a tight game, a chance to win, that's a whole different story. If you're down 45 points, just keep doing what you're doing. It is what it is. Kenedy will have a chance to break it, obviously, on Thursday night."
The victory moved Rhinelander to 15-5 overall on the season and 11-0 in the Great Northern Conference, which was a strong enough resume to earn the No. 2 seed for the upcoming WIAA playoffs.
The Hodags will host a regional semifinal game Friday, Feb. 28 against the winner a regional quarterfinal game between 10th-seeded Wausau East and seventh-seeded Merrill Feb. 25 in Merrill. Should Rhinelander win its playoff opener, the team would host a regional final game on Saturday, Feb. 29, where it could likely draw a playoff rematch with third-seeded New London, which knocked the Hodags out of the tournament in the regional finals last year.
Hortonville, got the No. 1 seed. Lakeland will host Mosinee in a battle of the No. 4 and 5 seeds. Sixth-seeded Shawano will host 11th-seeded Antigo with the winner going to New London. Ashland will host Waupaca in the 8-9 game with the winner going to Hortonville.
Van Zile will look to set the scoring record and the Hodags will look to pass one more strong test before the playoffs Thursday night as at they host Marshfield at the Miazga Gym. The Tigers currently sit 14-5 overall have clinched a share of the Wisconsin Valley Conference title with an 11-1 league mark.
"That will be a great contest," Clark said. "Marshfield is a very good team, well-coached. It will be a great contest for us because they can shoot the 3, they can handle the ball, they're big, strong and athletic. It will be one of the best teams we play this year. They're at the top of the Valley with Stevens Point. That will be a great battle for us on Thursday night."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Article comment by:
It was totally embarrassing to be a Hodag Fan on Friday night when Coach Clark chose to leave Kennedy in the game and allow her to just haphazardly keep throwing up the ball to try for a record when they were ahead by over 30 points. Apparently Clark thinks Antigo should have just laid down and given her a record she didn't actually earn? That's ridiculous. Teaching kids to be team players earns way more respect than being self centered/greedy. RHS has only had one girls basketball team make it to the state tournament in 1979 and that proved what a "TEAM FIRST" mentality can accomplish together.
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