RHINELANDER - Years from now, players, coaches, and fans in Rhinelander might not remember the Hodags' 23-point boys basketball win over Tomahawk Thursday night.
They're unlikely to forget one specific play.
David Pokrandt, a three-year manager for the Hodags, suited up for Rhinelander and drained a three-pointer in the final minute of the game.
"The guys love to have him around, and we love having him as part of our team," Hodags coach Derek Lemmens said after the win.
Rhinelander players and the Hodags student section mobbed Pokrandt in celebration after the game.
"That's what adds to it, the fact that so many other people are that excited. It's just special that there's that kind of support out there," Lemmens said.
Hitting the shot on his third attempt, Pokrandt gave the Hodags the final winning margin.
Prior to that, Rhinelander overcame sluggish stretches to improve to 12-4 overall and remain unbeaten at 9-0 in Great Northern Conference play.
On paper, the matchup against a Tomahawk team winless in league play and without leading scorer Jared Jarvensivu appeared to be a formality. Indeed, the Hodags jumped to a 18-6 lead in the first quarter.
But the Hatchets put in the final four points of the quarter, and matched baskets in the second to stay within eight at halftime.
"I thought the effort was a little inconsistent, and that hurt us. Offensively, I felt like we were forcing a lot of things. It just had a strange flow tonight," Lemmens said.
Junior Jordan Roessler was the catalyst for the Hatchets in the first half, scoring 14 of the team's first 16 points on his way to a 19-point evening.
"Very nice player. I haven't been able to really see him, and he caught us by surprise," Lemmens said.
After halftime, however, Rhinelander became near-impenetrable defensively. Tomahawk couldn't manage a field goal for nearly six minutes to start the half.
"The intensity picked up and the consistent effort picked up," Lemmens said.
Taking a 15-point lead to the fourth, the Hodags cruised to the finish.
Mitch Reinthaler led Rhinelander with 19 points and displayed the ability to finish with the left hand.
"There's no way to play him. You can't force him left or anything like that, because he's very comfortable going left. It makes him that much harder to guard," said Lemmens.
Ryan Dart had 12, and Colton Volkmann completed the trio of Hodags in double figures with ten. But the undisputed player of the night was Pokrandt.
Entering the game with roughly a minute left, the Hatchets allowed him to snap off three attempts from long range. He drained the third.
"Tomahawk went out of their way without us even saying anything to give him a moment he'll never forget. It's just an absolute class act by Tomahawk," Lemmens said.
The Hodags return to the floor immediately to face second-place Mosinee on Friday night. The Indians have turned heads on their way to a spot near the top of the conference.
"Any time you have a good guard, and you have solid role players, you can do some very good things. They have surprised a lot of people, including myself," Lemmens said.
Rhinelander and Mosinee tip at 7:30pm at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium. Adam Matyska will have the play-by-play call starting at 7:10pm on HodagSports.com.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander couple thought they were empty nesters. However, an experience volunteering made them open their doors back up to kids who need a temporary home. The Zoerb's adult children moved out years ago. But at any moment they could get a call from social services that make them bring out their parenting skills for another round. Rick and Danielle Zoerb work together as realtors putting people in homes that are the perfect fit. However, the husband and wife know their home can be a good fit for others too. "There's no reason for kids to have to fall through the cracks," said Dani. Rick met a child at a mentorship program a few years ago. It was a meeting that opened a new door for him and his wife. "There was no hesitation on our part when we felt the situation was deteriorating for this young boy," said Rick.
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