MILWAUKEE - The Hodag basketball program capped a spectacle day at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee with a showcase 48-42 win over D.C. Everest on Saturday.
Rhinelander hoopsters from third graders through high schoolers got their chance to take the same floor as the Milwaukee Bucks - and the varsity team ensured the day was a success.
"It was a great experience. I'm glad that we decided to do this. I'm glad D.C. Everest invited us. It was a nice thing for our basketball community," said RHS basketball coach Derek Lemmens.
Playing in a spacious NBA arena, the Hodags (17-5) had to climb back from multiple fourth-quarter deficits to finally take care of the Evergreens (8-14).
The majority of the fourth quarter was tied, or the momentum was see-sawing back and forth between the two.
A Mitch Reinthaler three-pointer helped set the tone for the final three minutes in which the Hodags would lock up the win.
Just seconds after exiting the game due to a painful-looking booming fall, Reinthaler drained the left-corner triple to put Rhinelander up 38-37.
"That was a big momentum changer for us. I thought it could have gone the other way," Lemmens said.
The teams traded free throws and baskets after that, with the Hodags never dipping out of the lead in the final two minutes.
"It was nice for the guys. I think this was a good opportunity, and it's nice to add to it by having a win," Lemmens said.
Lemmens had predicted a sloppy start to the game for both teams, given the adrenaline-inducing setting. He was right.
Everest was stuck on two points for the first seven minutes, and the Hodags led only 8-4 after a quarter. Rhinelander never seemed to completely rid themselves of the shaky play.
"I thought I was over-coaching from the sideline. I thought guys were hesitant and not doing things with a purpose because they were too focused on me. That's something I have to get better at," Lemmens said.
Rhinelander led 21-18 at the half. Reinthaler had seven points in the first 16 minutes, and ended up leading the Hodags with 16 points on the afternoon.
The Hodags started the third quarter cold, and Everest drew even at the end of three. The Evergreens held leads of 33-32, 35-33, and 37-35 prior to the final stretch.
"It was hard for me to focus on the task at hand. It was tough for them to focus on the task at hand. I thought they did a good job of staying focused despite all of the distractions," Lemmens said.
Kent Mathews chipped in thirteen points for Rhinelander, and Ryan Dart had eight. Kyle Kurtenbach led Everest with 12.
Fortunately, Reinthaler's hard fall seems like it will have minor effects going forward.
"He got his legs taken out from under him, and he bumped his head pretty hard," Lemmens said. "I think he's okay. We're going to continue to monitor him, but he should be good."
The matchup was the last regular-season contest for both teams. In the WIAA postseason, the #1 seed Hodags await the winner of #4 Mosinee and #5 Medford on Tuesday. Rhinelander will host the victor on Friday evening.
Lemmens will use the week to focus on what his team needs to do.
"I think we could have done things better. Offensively, I didn't think our movement was crisp or purposeful as much as it should be. Defensively, keeping guys in front is going to be a big thing that we work on," he said.
Hear the game's audio play-by-play archive on HodagSports.com by hovering over the "Home" dropdown menu and selecting "Play-by-Play Audio Archives".
MADISON - A team of students from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is conducting research on foxes and coyotes in hopes of learning how the animals and humans can peacefully coexist.
Forest and wildlife associate professor David Drake and his students are humanely trapping the animals, running tests, then fitting them with tracking devices. The goal is to learn about traveling patterns, diseases the animals might have, and how they interact with other animals and humans.
Drake says foxes and coyotes are moving into areas where people are living. And if that continues, and the animals lose their fear of humans, they could become aggressive in extreme cases.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says residents should stay a safe distance from foxes or coyotes, and shouldn't feed them.
WAUSAU - Enrollment for health coverage will end soon. That's why healthcare providers participated in "Super Saturday".
Bridge Clinic in Wausau welcomed people to sign up for health insurance options Saturday.
The Open Enrollment deadline is February 15th. If you don't sign up before then, it could cost you $325 or more depending on your income.
"We recommend just make an informed choice. Don't just let it lapse and get the penalty, be surprised with a penalty later on. Come in, make an informed choice. There are health care options," said Bridge Community Health Clinic Executive Director Laura Scudiere.
NORTHWOODS - The U.S. Forest Service will hire thousands of temporary workers this spring. Leaders at the Chequamegon Nicolet Forest Service want to hire more than 50 temporary employees to work during summer. They're looking for people with diverse backgrounds and plenty of experience.
NEW YORK - More than 2 million Toyota, Chrysler and Honda vehicles are being recalled for a second fix for faulty air bags that may inadvertently inflate while the car is running.
The recall includes some Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Avalon models made from 2002 to 2004.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says all the vehicles covered in Saturday's announcement had already been under a recall for the faulty air bags, but the carmakers' original attempts to fix the defects only worked about 85 percent of the time.
PINE RIVER - Firefighters in Pine River had a tough day Saturday. They battled a house fire Friday night.
Crews didn't finish cleaning up the scene until 3:30 Saturday morning. Then they got called to a second fire in the afternoon.
The first fire happened at 9:12 p.m. The Lincoln County Dispatch Center got a call about a possible structure fire on County Highway WW in the Town of Pine River. That's east of Merrill, but when the Pine River Department got there, the house was in flames.
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