An uphill climb now for Raiders in the GNC
MEDFORD BOYS BASKETBALL
For the second straight game the Medford Raiders could not lift the proverbial lid from the basket Tuesday night, leaving them with a tough uphill climb in their quest to win the program’s third straight Great Northern Conference championship.
The Raiders scored the first basket of the game, but Mosinee scored the next 11 points and was in control the rest of the way in a 52-40 defensive struggle on the Indians’ home floor.
While neither team did much damage from the outside offensively, the Indians controlled the paint area, getting the ball inside to 6-6 junior Davin Stoffel, who led his team with 15 points. Mosinee also outrebounded Medford 41-29, getting 32 of those boards on the defensive end and limiting Medford to mostly one-shot opportunities.
The Raiders fell to 2-2 in GNC play and 6-3 overall with non-conference challenges looming Saturday at third-ranked La Crosse Central and Tuesday at Raider Hall against Menomonie and its 6-9 standout Noah Feddersen.
“Hopefully the guys see that we’re not far off in these games,” Medford head coach Ryan Brown said. “If we get a couple of stops, get a shot to fall here and there or see some of the slip cuts that were there, the game could’ve been totally different. We’re learning from it.”
Mosinee is off to a 9-1 start and is 3-0 in the GNC, ahead of Northland Pines (1-0), Rhinelander (3-1), Lakeland (2-2) and Medford in the early going.
The Raiders shooting struggles came a week after they shot just 29.1% in a 55-49 loss at Rhinelander. They actually led most of that game, but that wasn’t the case Tuesday.
“They’re a really solid team,” Brown said. “They’re really good defensively and are doing a lot of the things we do and you give them credit for that. We need to do a better job of being patient and getting great shots. We only had 10 turnovers and they had 16. They only hit one 3. We knew offensive rebounding would be big. The stats show we actually had more offensive rebounds than them (11-9), but when they got them they scored.”
Mosinee answered Joe Sullivan’s opening hoop with four points from Kyle Miller, a Drake Grod 3-pointer that was the Indians’ only triple of the night, a putback by Grod and Stoffel’s first hoop to go up 11-2. Logan Baumgartner hit a 3-pointer for Medford, but the Raiders went quiet again and found themselves down 19-6 and 26-10 before Baumgartner drained a 3-pointer to close the halftime gap to 26-13.
The Raiders were just four of 23 from the field in the first half. Medford made a couple of runs in the second half, but couldn’t sustain them long enough.
The Raiders opened the half with a three-point play from Baumgartner and a Sullivan steal and score to close within 26-18. The Indians, though, countered with an 8-2 run that widened their lead to 34-20 with 11:30 left. The Raiders then got on their best run, scoring nine straight points. Sullivan got the first bucket, then Tanner Hraby knocked down a 3-pointer at the 11:05 mark for the first Raider points from someone other than Baumgartner and Sullivan.
After Charlie Kleist hit one of two free throws with 8:46 to go, the Raiders got a stop and Hraby had a 3-point shot rattle in and out. Hraby did get three on a hoop and harm with 7:20 left to pull the Raiders within 34-29.
But Stoffel fed teammate Trenton Dorn for an easy hoop and Miller assisted on a Keagan Jirschele hoop to get the lead back to nine with 5:53 left.
Hraby had another 3-pointer go in and out, but Sullivan would later score to make it 38-31 and, off a Mosinee turnover, Sullivan fed Baumgartner to make it 40-33 with 3:55 left.
But Baumgartner was called for his fifth foul as he collided with a Mosinee screener with 3:42 left and a technical foul was added on. The Indians hit two of four free throws and added another from Stoffel 28 seconds later to get the lead back to double digits. The closest the Raiders got after that was 46-37 on a Sullivan 3-pointer with 1:49 left.
“It’s tough to win when you’re best player is on the bench for half of the second half,” Brown said.
Sullivan led Medford with 16 points, but he struggled too making just seven of 19 shots from the field. He led Medford with nine rebounds and three steals. Baumgartner, who was called for two offensive charges and the final player-con- trol foul, scored 14 points, but he fought through four-of-17 shooting to do it.
Hraby was two of 10 and finished with six points. Kleist and Caleb Guden scored two points each. Brigham Kelley and Kleist had five rebounds each and Quinton Tlusty provided some second-half energy with two steals and three deflections.
The Raiders were 14 of 55 overall from the field, 10 of 34 on twos and four of 21 from deep.
Stoffel had nine rebounds to go with his 15 points. Grod had 12 points and seven rebounds, while Dorn and Miller had nine points apiece for Mosinee, who has a chance to widen its lead in the GNC with upcoming games against Lakeland, Tomahawk and Antigo.
Medford’s game at La Crosse Central will start at about 5:45 p.m., following the girls game between the schools. Tuesday’s tip time at Raider Hall is 7:15 p.m. Brown said he continues to look forward to non-conference games like these, which Medford has plenty of on the back half of its schedule.
“Of course we want to get the best record we can get,” he said. “Playing these better teams, we’ll know where we need to get better and hopefully we can go on a run in the playoffs because we’ve played in the these tough, close games.”