Boys basketball season comes to end for Hodags
It is the basketball playoffs; win move on, lose and go home and wait for next year. Mosinee came to Rhinelander to face the Hodags for the third time this season. The winner would go to Medford to face the 23-2 conference champions.
The Hodags had defeated the Mosinee twice during conference play and it is always tough to beat a team three times in a season. The Hodags were hoping to do just that as the previous wins were by 14 and 17 points. Mosinee was coming off a quarterfinal win over Merrill and would like nothing better than to defeat the Hodags at the Miazga gym.
Rhinelander started the game on a 9-0 run but that would not last long as Mosinee came back and kept the game close and in the closing seconds of the first half ran a play and scored a layup to put the Hodags down one at the break 29-30.
The game was close in the second half as both teams would go on little runs but neither could get a commanding lead. Quinn Lamers had a cold shooting night and did not hit a 3 until the closing minutes to put the Hodags up one. Neither team was solid in the end shooting free throws, but with a 3-point lead Jackson Labs went to the line. With just 5.1 seconds remaining, Labs sank his second attempt to put the Hodags up by four points. Mosinee called their last timeout and the Hodags put up minimal pressure making sure not to foul as Cyle Kowalski drove for a layup and the Hodags let time expire for the two point win 58-56.
The win put the Hodags into a showdown with Medford at Medford’s Raider Hall on Saturday night.
The Hodags were hoping the “tough to beat a team three times” adage would work to their advantage as the Raiders had defeated Rhinelander twice in the regular season. The first meeting in Medford the Raiders beat up the Hodags and won by 36. At Rhinelander the Hodags played much better and only lost by four in a game they could have won had they made just a few less mistakes.
Raider Hall is always a tough place to play as the fans are close to the floor and it gets loud even during the pandemic. The Raiders had the school’s all time leading scorer, Peyton Kuhn, back from a bad ankle sprain. Kuhn did not play against Merrill on Friday night. He was not 100%but was still effective, scoring 14 points as he did to start the game.
What really hurt the Hodags was the play of Brady Hupf as he had his way close to the basket and scored almost at will leading the Raiders with a game high 21 points. The Hodags were down 18-29 at the half as they could not score consistently, could not get into a good flow.
The second half brought a little more energy as the Hodags outscored Medford 36-35 but could not overcome the 11 point half time deficit and lost 54-64 ending their season. The Hodags had balanced scoring among the starters but no bench scoring. Jacksen Smith led with 16 points but fouled out late in the second half. Senior Ross Skeen ended his career with 16 points and seniors Quinn Lamers and Travis Towne each had 10 points. PHOTOS BY BOB MAINHARDT