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

Northwoods Spotlight - State-bound youth basketball teams - Mar 19
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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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - Local organizations got the chance to give back to their communities at Saturday's Fall Fest.

 This year it also gave a mother and daughter the chance to get even closer than they were before. 

During Fall Fest on Saturday Nicole Fondie felt a little déjà vu watching her daughter. 

"It's neat to repeat it and see her grow with it," said Nicole. 

As a child Nicole was involved with the girl scouts, but this is her first year as a troop leader to her daughter Zoey's Girl Scouts troop.

"It gives them an opportunity to give back to other people and give back to their communities," said Nicole.
This year the scouts volunteered at Fall Fest. 

"Very proud of her, seeing everything she does, and the way she likes to interact with people," said Nicole. 

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The Vilas County Sheriff's Office searched the home and buildings on the property when they arrived on scene.

At around 9 a.m. a member of the Newbold Fire Department Search and Rescue and his K-9 found the man near his home.

He was not injured.

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It's no surprise he's finishing up his third wildlife internship while putting his years in school to good use.

"Wanted to take my biology degree and not work in a lab."

Predmore spends his work days at the wildlife center rehabbing hurt animals and educating the public about wildlife.

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RHINELANDER - Wild Instincts celebrated the release of BBC's "Supercharged Otters," which filmed at Wild Instincts in Rhinelander.

Saturday's viewing at Rouman Cinema in Rhinelander had a complementary showing of the episode.

The episode features otters that spent seven months with Rehabilitation Director Mark Naniot and his team.

The episode gives people a look into the life of an otter.

"Like everything else it's the web of life. Everything's all interconnected and even if it's just the pure enjoyment of watching an otter swim or catch a fish and seeing how playful they are sliding down a mudslide or sliding through the snow that alone is immeasurable really," said Naniot.

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MINOCQUA - Pretty soon little ghosts, goblins and ghouls will hit the streets expecting tricks or treats.

However, some families may take their kids to church or club festivities as a safer way to celebrate.

Some of those places could actually attract convicted nonviolent sex offenders.

"[Kids] can't defend themselves at that age," said Minocqua vacationer and grandmother Donna Davies.

Davies thinks Halloween is a time to keep an extra eye out for sex offenders.

"With sex offenders you need to be super cautious," said Davies.

In Minocqua, there are no laws keeping nonviolent sex offenders from attending youth groups, children's activities and even boy scouts meetings.

"The public thinks sex offenders are a threat to public safety," said Minocqua Town Chairman Mark Hartzheim.

He says sex offenders are always around, but trick or treating can get dangerous.

"They're there and we don't always know they are there," said Hartzheim.

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KINGSFORD, MI - Fridays in Kingsford, Michigan belong to the Flivver faithful.

"Being a Flivver is a part of our life," Kingsford High School senior Mitchell Wiltzius said.

It's a special name and mascot reserved for just one community.  The name comes from the old Ford plant in Kingsford that once produced station wagons starting in 1931.

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LINCOLN COUNTY - A man died after his ATV hit a bear in northwest of Tomahawk.

Lincoln County Sheriff's Deputies tell us it happened just after 7:30 p.m. Thursday night in the Town of Wilson.

A 51 year old man had been headed west on County Road CC, east of Poplar Drive.

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