Raiders keep right on rolling with two more road victories
MEDFORD BOYS BASKETBALL
The Medford Raiders used a big advantage at the free throw line and some hustle at key times to pull away from Wausau West 57-43 Tuesday night in nonconference play. Medford made 27 of 33 free throws compared to just five of 10 for the Warriors. That helped the Raiders overcome a bit of a subpar shooting night. In a game where both defenses dug in, creating a halfcourt, low possession numbers game, the Raiders still did their usual defensive damage, getting 24 points off 19 Warrior turnovers and improved to 14-3 for the season. The Warriors, who are in last place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference, fell to 2-14. Medford put three scorers in double figures, led by Justin Sullivan’s 15 points. Peyton Kuhn had 13 and Mason Rudolph had a bit of a breakout night, hitting four of five shots from the field, including two of three from 3-point range, to score 10 points.
A back-and-forth first half ended with Sullivan using a quick burst off a crossover dribble and hitting a tough jumper in the lane at the buzzer to give Medford a 21-20 lead. Nick Raasch got open to start the second half with a bucket for West. Rudolph hit a top of the key 3, but Jacob Rapp scored off a Garrett Richardt assist for West to tie the game at 24-24.
That’s where Medford went on the run that gave it the lead for good. Kuhn hit his only 3-pointer of the night from the right wing to break the tie. Two defensive possessions later, Sullivan made a diving save on the baseline to keep a play alive. The ball wound up in Kuhn’s hands and he fired a pass upcourt to a wide-open Rudolph, who laid it in.
Brady Hupf grabbed an offensive rebound on Medford’s next possession, leading to free throws for Sullivan. He made one of two, but Kuhn tracked down the long rebound on the miss, got the ball to Onyi Ekwueme and he fired it to Rudolph who drained a left-corner 3. Sullivan’s subsequent steal and score gave Medford two more free points and a 35-24 lead with 13:35 left.
The Warriors didn’t quit, cutting Medford’s lead to 39-35 at one point. The Raiders then went on a 9-0 run, started by a Logan Baumgartner 3-pointer. Kuhn hit two free throws following a steal, Ekwueme hit two bonus throws and then he stole the ensuing inbound pass, leading to two free throws for Kuhn with 7:08 left. The Warriors only got as close as eight the rest of the way.
Hupf had five points in the win, Ekwueme and Doug Way scored four points apiece and Ty Baker and Baumgartner had three apiece. Sullivan’s four rebounds led the team, while Ekwueme had a team-high three assists and tied Sullivan for the team lead with three steals.
West got 10 points from Rapp, eight from Maxwell Helke and seven from guard Mitchell Zahurones, who dealt with foul trouble most of the night.
The Raiders get back to Great Northern Conference play Friday when they host the Rhinelander Hodags (3-5, 5-10) in a game that has been moved up to 6:45 p.m. Then it’s back on the road Tuesday for the final GNC game away from Raider Hall. Medford will take on Northland Pines that night at 7:15 p.m. and it’s possible the 8-0 Raiders could clinch at least a share of conference title that night.
Medford 84, Tomahawk 48
The Tomahawk Hatchets scored the first five points of the second half to creep within 35-22, then Medford hammered the home team with a 16-0 blitz that abruptly ended any hope of an upset in the Raiders’ 84-48 GNC win Friday night.
As usual for the Raiders, the gamesealing run was sparked by defense, which led to quick buckets that suddenly turned a somewhat close game into a rout.
The run started with a Kuhn drive from the left side. A long, patient possession ended with Ekwueme hitting a reverse layup off a Sullivan assist. Ekwueme’s subsequent midcourt steal led to Kuhn’s layup. Ekwueme then tipped the ball away from a Hatchet ball handler in the backcourt, leading to Kuhn’s steal and his lob to Sullivan for two.
Ekwueme came off a double screen to hit a top of the key 3-pointer. Baumgartner’s backcourt steal led to a offensive rebound basket by Way. Ekwueme’s rebound and outlet pass got a transition three-point play for Baumgartner. In seemingly the blink of an eye, Medford was up 51-22 and didn’t let off the gas the rest of the way, nearly widening its lead to 40 in the final moments.
The Raiders shot well, hitting 55% of their field goal attempts (33 of 60). They were especially strong in the second half, making 19 of 29 (65.5%). They forced Tomahawk into 22 turnovers overall but turned the 10 second-half turnovers into 18 points.
Medford scored the game’s first four points and never trailed. The closest Tomahawk got was 4-3 on an Elijah Scheffler 3-pointer and 11-8 on a Drew Bolder trey. Medford slowly widened its lead throughout the half, highlighted by an Ekwueme save on the sideline that led to an early Kuhn bucket, a steal by Way that led to a pretty behind-the-back pass from Kuhn to Sullivan for a layup and five late points from Baumgartner that helped open up a 35-17 lead at the break.
Scheffler hit a 3 to open the second half and Tomahawk’s 6-7 post Connor Dichsen followed with a bucket, but that brief surge of momentum was quickly halted.
Kuhn hit eight of 12 shots, including all three of 3-point tries, and led Medford with 20 points. He had four steals, two assists and two rebounds. Baumgartner added 16 points while making six of 10 shots. He had four rebounds and two steals. Sullivan chipped in with 14 points and had four assists.
Ekwueme had a strong outing with eight points, a team-high six assists, three steals and two rebounds. Way had six points, six rebounds and two steals. John McMurry scored a season-high six points. Ty Baker had four points and three rebounds. Hupf had three points and three boards. Cooper Wild scored three second-half points. Dylan Wickersheim and Caleb Guden both scored two late points with Guden’s being his first varsity points. Rudolph had six rebounds and two assists.
Dichsen scored 16 points to lead Tomahawk, who fell to 1-7 in the GNC and 5-11 overall. He did almost all of his damage in the second half after the outcome had basically been decided. Scheffler added 13 points.
Medford had just eight turnovers in the win and outrebounded the taller Hatchets 34-28.