WITTENBERG - A 14-0 second-quarter run propelled Wittenberg-Birnamwood past the Hodag girls basketball team Monday night, as the Chargers bested Rhinelander 45-31 in Wittenberg.
Witt-Birn used the spurt to go from up three points to up 17. Rhinelander would never climb back within single digits on the evening.
"We're not quite good enough to beat Wittenberg in 32 minutes. We probably played them pretty strong for about 25. We had that breakdown in the second quarter where they got to us. We're about seven minutes away from playing to this caliber of opponent," RHS coach Ryan Clark said after the game.
Scoring was a concern for the Hodags most of the night. In no quarter did Rhinelander score more than nine points. Witt-Birn used a 2-3 zone to stifle penetration and post entries.
"They kind of plug up the middle, so it's hard to get the ball to Kylie (Hunter) and Riley (Ashenbrenner) inside," Clark said.
Sydnei Smith led the Hodags with 12 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Hunter chipped in with nine, and freshman Kaly Kostrova added four. No other Hodag tallied more than two points.
Mikayla Hartman paced three Chargers in double figures with 13.
A Witt-Birn full court press for most of the night forced turnovers in Rhinelander's backcourt, not to mention troubles in the half-court set.
"Twenty-one turnovers. Now, a lot of that is a credit to Wittenberg's atheticism and aggressiveness. We didn't shoot very well. But we can't have 21 turnovers. We need more offensive opportunities," Clark said.
Rhinelander played a zone with some man-to-man principles most of the night, but it couldn't force the Chargers into many poor shots.
"They're disciplined. We would adjust to them, but they didn't panic," Clark said.
After a closely contested opening quarter, the Chargers led 12-9. Following their run in the second, Rhinelander responded with a 7-0 run of their own to make it 28-18 at the half. Witt-Birn extended their lead by four after the third, which matched the final margin.
The Chargers knocked off their second team with a much larger enrollment this year. They opened the season with a six-point win over Wausau East. Witt-Birn is now 6-1, and is riding a five-game win streak.
The Hodags dropped to 3-6 on the season.
Rhinelander returns home, and to Great Northern Conference play, on Friday against Mosinee.
"It's fun. You get to play at home on a Friday night, and it's a conference game," Clark said.
Mosinee is the only team to have beaten Witt-Birn this season. Tipoff for the Hodags and Indians is set for 7:30.
Rhinelander at Wittenberg-Birnamwood
Monday, December 30, 2013
Rhinelander 9 9 5 8 - 31
Wittenberg-Birnamwood 12 16 9 8 - 45
Rhinelander (31) - Smith 12, Hunter 9, Kostrova 4, Haker 2, Willging 2, Aschenbrenner 2.
Wittenberg-Birnamwood (45) - Hartman 13, Nier 12, Alwes 10, Zeinert 9, White Eagle 2.