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.
MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.
Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.
Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.
"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."
On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.
Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.
The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.
"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."
Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer.
NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.
They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.
But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.
And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.
That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.
It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.
"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate.
Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday.
You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.
All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.
That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.
"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."
If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.
MINOCQUA - Lakeland and Antigo generally square off as rivals in Great Northern Conference competition. But on Friday, nearly a week removed from the prom shootings in Antigo, Lakeland wanted to show that it was on Antigo's side.
"It's hard to react to something like this, because you want to be concerned, and you want to help, but it's hard to know how to help," said Maggie Laurence, a Lakeland sophomore and Student Council member.
Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Rockfleet Broadcasting / Northland Television, Inc. and By Request Web Designs shall not be held responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, or misprints.