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Northwoods Spotlight - State-bound youth basketball teams - Mar 19Submitted: 03/19/2014
Story By Joe Dufek


RHINELANDER - You don't have to be in college to be part of March Madness. Young teams from Northland Pines and Rhinelander received invites to their version of the Big Dance.

"Our team has done very well, considering we weren't as good last year," Alex Fortier of Rhinelander's 5th Grade Team explains. "We've changed a lot and now we're going to state."

"All the kids are looking up to the March Madness people, the college players," Northland Pines 6th grade player Ryan Peterson adds. "But now we get to have our own tournament that's this big too."


More than 700 boys and girls teams from 5th through 8th grade will play in the Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournament.

"The jitters of the bigger gymnasiums, the big crowds- it's exciting," Northland Pines head coach Jim Swenson said.

This will be the Eagles second time at state. Several of them got a taste of the high level of competition last year.

"I was kind of happy, kind of nervous because last year we didn't do very good," Northland Pines player Joe Misina admits.

The boys had a scrimmage Monday night. Both squads saw it as an chance to improve.

It's becoming more and more important for young athletes to have opportunities like this. They need experiences on a big stage to prepare them for high school competition.

"The only way we're going to prepare these kids is to start them out now," Rhinelander head coach Todd McEldowney explains. "And not to play against poor competition but to play against the best kids we can. Because that's how they're going to improve."

Other teams taking part include Antigo and Merrill's 5th grade girls teams, Medford and D.C. Everest in 8th grade girls, and Rhinelander and Wittenberg-Birnamwood's 8th grade boys teams.

It runs March 29th through April 13th throughout the state. Appleton, Stevens Point, and Wausau are among several cities hosting the tournament.


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MADISON - The head of the state prison system is assuring lawmakers that Wisconsin's troubled youth prison is safe.

Department of Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher told the Assembly Corrections Committee during an informational hearing on Tuesday that the prison outside Irma is safe and secure and is focused on educating inmates.

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CRANDON - Pet lovers may be pampering their pets a little extra Monday in honor of National Love Your Pet Day. Squeaky toys, dog treats, cat nip, and even doggie desserts are just a few ways people give their pets a little extra love on Love Your Pet Day.
But there are plenty of shelter dogs that could use a little extra care all the time. If you can't adopt Forest county humane Society president Jay Schaefer wants you to come play with the dogs and cats at the shelter. "It's a way for people to get over their pet fix, or if their renting an apartment, or their in a point in their life where they can't have pets right now," said Jay.
Jay invites anyone with a passion for animals to come out to walk, cuddle, feed and play with the dogs or cats in the shelter. "If they can't go out for a walk…they just want somebody to spend five minutes with them….and then you're like the Fairy godmother in a Disney movie," said Jay.Pet lovers may be pampering their pets a little extra Monday in honor of National Love Your Pet Day. Squeaky toys, dog treats, cat nip, and even doggie desserts are just a few ways people give their pets a little extra love on Love Your Pet Day.

But there are plenty of shelter dogs that could use a little extra care all the time. If you can't adopt Forest county humane Society president Jay Schaefer wants you to come play with the dogs and cats at the shelter. "It's a way for people to get over their pet fix, or if their renting an apartment, or their in a point in their life where they can't have pets right now," said Jay.

Jay invites anyone with a passion for animals to come out to walk, cuddle, feed and play with the dogs or cats in the shelter. "If they can't go out for a walk…they just want somebody to spend five minutes with them….and then you're like the Fairy godmother in a Disney movie," said Jay.

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ANTIGO - The woman accused of illegally taking her kids to South Dakota for months faced a judge on Monday in Langlade County.

Cathy Brown is charged with a felony, after interfering with a custody order.

11- year-old Averie Brown and nine-year-old Dalton Brown were reported missing from their school in November.

They were found safe with their 37- year- old mother in Hill City South Dakota in January.

Brown appeared in court for an initial hearing via video from the Langlade Jail, and her attorney Lindsay Erickson appeared by phone.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - This weekend many of us may have seen images of a pickup truck falling through the ice on Lake Michigan. Some trucks even fell through the ice in Wausau.

So, how safe is the ice in the Northwoods?

DNR Conservation Warden Supervisor Dave Walz says this time of year the ice can melt fast, so anglers should be aware of it. He says it also depends on the lake.

"We've seen anywhere some still on the Rainbow Flowage 24 inches of ice out there this last weekend," Walz says. "A few other lakes we've seen it as thin as six inches of ice."

Walz said no one fell through the ice this weekend in the Northwoods.

No matter the temperature, even if it's below zero, it's never a guarantee that ice is safe.

"Just remember, it's never 100 percent safe out there," Walz said. "It's always at your own risk."
Walz said you should always fish with a partner for safety.

The last day ice shanties can be on lakes is March 19.

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WESTON - A Langlade County man died from a gunshot wound outside a Weston bar last week.

Everest Metro Police say Nicholas Houdek was found face down in a parking lot outside Wiggly Field early Friday morning.

Houdek was from Bryant, which is just outside Antigo.

Police didn't say if someone shot Houdek or if he shot himself.

He was a 2007 Antigo High School graduate.

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MINOCQUA - You can keep your pajamas on and stay barefoot to shop at one grocery store in the Northwoods.

The "Rosie" app on smartphones and online is changing how you shop.

You can order any food item at Save More Marketplace in Minocqua with a couple taps on your screen.

"I print the list you guys have chosen for the items you want," said in-store shopping expert Steph Coy.

She will load up the cart, checkout, then bag your items for delivery to your house or pick-up in store.

Save More Marketplace started using the shopping option in October.

"It's a convenience for customers who don't have the time. It is a convenience for customers who can't leave their home," said Save More Marketplace president Jim Gauden.

It costs a little extra; up to $5 if food is delivered to you.

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HAYWARD - Warm weather is forcing organizers to change the route of Saturday's American Birkebeiner ski race in northwestern Wisconsin.

As a result, the race will not finish in downtown Hayward this year.

The Birkie race course normally crosses Lake Hayward to get to downtown Hayward. But the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation said Monday the lake is no longer an option.

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