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Hodag ballers clinch conference titleSubmitted: 02/12/2013

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

RHINELANDER - One goal down, plenty to go.

The Rhinelander High School boys basketball team hit their first major goal Tuesday night, downing Lakeland 61-43 to clinch at least a share of the Great Northern Conference crown.

After this, a deep WIAA playoff run is next on the wish list.

Tuesday's victory at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium was extra satisfying. It meant the Hodags improved to 2-0 this year over rival Lakeland and former coach Rich Fortier. It was Fortier's first time coaching as a visitor in the gym he used to call home.

RHS senior Brett Mathews poured in 13 points in the second half, finishing with 19 points on the night. Leading scorer Shane White was held to 10, but was helped by four Hodags in double figures.

"Coach Fortier is so good at finding who your top scorers are and making other guys beat you. We're so fortunate because we have so many guys that can do that," said RHS coach Derek Lemmens.

Mitch Reinthaler scored 11 points, and Brad Kenote looked his best since returning from a collarbone injury. He also had 11.

Dylan Lerdahl and Bryon Andrews led the Thunderbirds with eight points apiece.

Up just 15-14 after a quarter, the Hodags galloped to a 29-18 lead at the half.

"We came out hot. But it's a tendency we have, to come out hot, then I think we relax a little too much. They climbed back in, but we got a rhythm in the game, and it flowed a little better," Lemmens said.

Rhinelander's lead would never dip below 11 the rest of the way, stretching to 22 at one point in the fourth.

The Hodags mixed man-to-man, 2-3, and 1-3-1 zone looks on defense.

"I like that as an option. It gives us different things to establish our defensive rhythm and eliminate their offensive rhythm, keep them guessing as to what we're in," said Lemmens.

RHS visits Tomahawk on Thursday, and returns home to face Northland Pines on Friday. A win in either game would clinch an outright GNC title. The back-to-back games will also be good preparation for attacking their next goal, the playoffs.

"I have no problems with that. We need to get into that mindset. If we're fortunate enough to get a victory on Friday (in the playoffs), we've got to go again Saturday anyway," Lemmens said.

Rhinelander improved to 16-2 overall and 9-1 in the GNC. Lakeland fell to 14-7, 7-4.

Lakeland vs. Rhinelander
Tuesday, Feb. 12
Lakeland 14 4 10 15 43
Rhinelander 15 14 13 19 61
Lakeland (43): Dylan Lerdahl 8, Bryon Andrews 8, Matt Hartzheim 7, Thomas Bruckner 6, Jacob Gibson 6, Brad Holcombe 3, Matt Schlicter 3, Michael Fossen 2.
Rhinelander (61): Brett Mathews 19, Mitch Reinthaler 11, Brad Kenote 11, Shane White 10, Colton Volkmann 6, Austin Bowman 2, Ben Eversmann 2.
3-Pointers: L 3 (Hartzheim, Holcombe, Schlicter). R 6 (Mathews 2, Volkmann 2, Kenote, Reinthaler).


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 IN OTHER NEWS

VILAS COUNTY - A 77-year-old man died in a crash near Boulder Junction late Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol, it happened around 3:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 51 and County Highway H.

Investigators think a van went through an intersection and hit a semi truck.

"There was injury," said Boulder Junction Fire Chief Matthew Reuss. "The two passengers in the van had to be extricated. One was taken to Howard Young Medical Center for further care. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the second passenger in the van was pronounced dead at the scene."

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, the driver of the van is a 68-year-old woman from Colby. Crews later took her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield for non-life threatening injuries. Her passenger, a 77-year-old male from Colby, died in the crash. They were both wearing seatbelts. 

The driver of the semi is 63 years old and from South Range. 

Traffic was rerouted through Boulder Junction for several hours and was reopened shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Several units responded to the scene.

"Because we had multiple patients, we dispatched multiple ambulance units," Reuss said. "We called in resources from Arbor Vitae for traffic control and we called Manitowish Waters for help in extrication and ambulance service as well as Medic 5 out of Howard Young."

State Patrol and the Vilas County Sheriff's Office will investigate the crash.

Police will not release the names until the families are notified. 

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As of Tuesday morning, the state patrol dealt with more than 200 incidents around the region.

But for the most part, drivers weren't crashing into each other.

"The number of slide ins have really outnumbered the number of crashes, which kind of tells us that's good that motorists have been listening and kind of adding a little more distance between themselves and other vehicles so that's good, so it looks like the total number of slide ins have been significantly higher than crashes," said State Patrol Sergeant, Dan Gruebele

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The Oneida County Sheriff's Office arrested Durand, 21, Saturday for driving a car stolen from a house near Rhinelander. During that investigation, officers found a lot of other people's mail on Durand's property.

The mail was from all over Oneida County as well as other counties.  The Sheriff's Office will contact the people whose mail has been found.

Durand is due in court January 23.

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