RHINELANDER - On Senior Night, the script couldn't have been better for the Rhinelander High School boys basketball seniors.
All ten seniors found the scorebook in a 75-40 home win over Northland Pines in the Hodags' final regular season game. Seniors scored 62 of RHS' 75 points.
"It's a big senior class. It's guys that have been committed for quite a while," RHS head coach Derek Lemmens said after the game.
The win boosted the Hodags to 18-2 overall. They had already clinched the Great Northern Conference championship outright, and finished the league schedule at 11-1.
Although the Eagles entered the game 2-19, they stunned RHS with a fast start. The Hodags put lesser-used seniors Austin Bowman, Matt Quade, Darren McGuire, Matt Bloch, and Ben Eversmann in the starting lineup. Against those five, Northland Pines opened on a 10-0 run.
"It was high emotion, and we had a tough start because of it," Lemmens said.
Rhinelander didn't tally a field goal for the first four and a half minutes of the game. But then they ripped off a 33-5 run spanning the first and second quarters to take command.
"Our length bothers them, so we really pushed our 1-3-1 (zone defense). It worked well. I thought guys were patient and they picked their times," Lemmens said. "When you get to a deficit, sometimes you want to get out of it right away, but they just slowly chipped away."
The Hodags led by 19 at the half and coasted the rest of the way.
Bowman led a balanced scoring effort with 13 points. Shane White had 12, while little-used senior Elijah Dean threw in nine points, all in the second half.
Cooper Kerner led all scorers with 15 for Northland Pines.
RHS will now have a full week off before starting the WIAA Division 2 postseason. They await the winner of Tuesday's Merrill-Mosinee matchup.
"We're fortunate. We've played both of them. I'll watch both games when we played them last time and just get two scouting reports," Lemmens said. "The first two practices, that can be the time to perfect what we want to do, and get really good at what we do."
RHS will host either the Bluejays or the Indians Friday night at 7 p.m. Listen to full coverage of that game on HodagSports.com. Tickets for the game will go on sale Monday morning at 8 a.m. at RHS.
Northland Pines vs. Rhinelander
Friday, Feb. 15
Northland Pines 15 3 9 13 – 40
Rhinelander 17 20 23 15 – 75
Northland Pines (40): Cooper Kerner 15, Jon Eichman 10, Andrew McGill 8, Alek Helgeson 4, Will Janklow 3.
Rhinelander (75): Austin Bowman 13, Shane White 12, Elijah Dean 9, Brad Kenote 7, Brett Mathews 6, Mitch Reinthaler 6, Colton Volkmann 5, Darren McGuire 4, Tyler Thorsen 3, Matt Quade 2, Matt Bloch 2, Ryan Dart 2, Ben Eversmann 2.
Three Pointers: NP 8 (Eichman 3, Kerner 2, McGill 2, Janklow). R 2 (Kenote, Thorsen).