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".
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.
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