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Raiders have chance to be in total control at the GNC turn


Not only did the Medford Raiders beat Mosinee’s pressure in the last three minutes Friday, they showed no mercy in attacking it in a 14-1 run that punctuated a 68-53 win that puts them in command of the Great Northern Conference race just shy of the season’s halfway point.

The game-clinching run allowed Medford to boost its GNC record to 5-0, putting it two games ahead of Mosinee and Antigo and at least three in the loss column ahead of everyone else. The first half of league play concludes Friday with Medford hosting Lakeland at 7:15 p.m. at Raider Hall.

The Raiders got a big 25-point outing from junior Peyton Kuhn, forced Mosinee into 17 turnovers and limited the Indians to 41.3% shooting from the field while securing a big mid-season road win. It was Medford’s first win in Mosinee since a 53-43 win on Dec. 14, 2012, snapping the program’s eight-game losing streak there.

Luke Spink, the GNC’s 2018-19 Player of the Year had 21 points for Mosinee and Cyle Kowalski added 17, but the Indians got little else offensively. Brayden Hoen did have six points and nine rebounds. Kowalski had four assists.

“We did a good job of defending Spink and Kowalski,” Medford head coach Ryan Brown said. “We tried to keep them out of the paint. They still scored but we didn’t let anybody else score. We tried to make everything hard for them.”

Medford led most of the way, but until the last three minutes, the Indians reeled the Raiders back in every time they seemed to be distancing themselves.

The first time came late in the first half when a Mason Rudolph 3-pointer put the Raiders up 24-13 with two minutes to go. But Kowalksi answered with five straight points and Spink drove and scored with seven seconds left to pull Mosinee within 24-20.

Mosinee’s run continued into the second half as the Indians took a 27-26 lead on a Jake Placek bucket.

Kuhn then scored Medford’s next 15 points in a 15-5 run that put the Raiders up 41-32 with about 12 minutes to go. He hit two 3s, scored on a steal, attacked the middle of the lane twice and buried another triple in the run.

Mosinee came storming back over the next five minutes and took a 47-46 lead when Spink scored off a blocked shot by teammate Alex Olund.

Kuhn again had the answer, swishing a 3-pointer and teammate Ty Baker knocked down a deep 3 of his own to give Medford a 52-47 lead with 4:30 left. The Indians whittled the lead to 54-52 on two Spink free throws with 3:26 to play, but Baker drew a foul and sank the free throws with 3:16 left to start Medford’s clinching run.

The Raiders got a defensive stop and Kuhn beat Mosinee’s pressure and lobbed the ball to Doug Way, who put in the easy layup. Another stop led to Justin Sullivan’s driving bucket with 2:22 left. Sullivan took the ball coast to coast on Medford’s next possession and converted, suddenly making it a 10-point game at 62-52.

Brown said he kept Sullivan on the bench for a little longer than he might have in other games after the senior picked up his third foul midway through the second half just because he wanted to make sure he’d be on the floor at the end of the game.

“I knew they liked to trap the clear out, so we know Justin could just beat them. He’s that fast,” Brown said. “He did that and that worked even better because then they started to extend when we were just trying to work the ball. We just ran our five-out, he just started going rim to rim and there was nobody there.”

Baker attacked and scored at the 1:35 mark. After a Kowalski free throw, Sullivan didn’t stop until he scored at the rim to make it 66-53 and put it out of reach at the 1:17 mark. Onyi Ekwueme’s free throws with 44 seconds left sealed it.

Kuhn hit 10 of 20 shots from the field, including four of 11 3-pointers. He added two rebounds and two assists. From there, the scoring was pretty equally distributed.

Baker had five assists while scoring eight second-half points. He had five rebounds too. Rudolph hit a couple of 3s and finished with eight points, five rebounds and two assists. Ekwueme was solid defensively and had a season-high seven points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Sullivan had no field goals until the last three minutes but finished with seven points, two rebounds and two assists. Way had six points, all in the second half, and pulled down six rebounds. Brady Hupf had four points and three boards. Logan Baumgartner hit a firsthalf 3-pointer and had five rebounds.

The Raiders had a key statistical edge in 3-point shooting, making nine of 25, while Mosinee was just four of 14 from behind the arc. Medford also had a 36-25 rebounding advantage.

“Offensively, they couldn’t guard us in man-to-man so they quickly went to 1-3-1,” Brown said. “Once we started getting the ball to Onyi and skip it, that’s when we finally started to get some shots. Defensively it was good because we got stops. We got them out of their game.”

After Friday’s game with the T-Birds, the Raiders will enjoy a week off before starting the second round of GNC play at home Jan. 24 against Antigo.