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RIB LAKE BOYS BASKETBALL - Redmen clinch North title with impressive rivalry win

Redmen clinch North title with impressive rivalry win
Senior Donovan Sutherland cuts off his piece of the net as the Redmen celebrated their Marawood North championship following Friday’s win over Prentice. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS
Redmen clinch North title with impressive rivalry win
Senior Donovan Sutherland cuts off his piece of the net as the Redmen celebrated their Marawood North championship following Friday’s win over Prentice. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS


Rib Lake has been waiting four years for a Marawood Conference boys basketball championship, but for the guys who made it happen this season, the process began long before that.

The 2023-24 Redmen clinched the Marawood North title Friday, fittingly with a 66-47 win over their biggest rivals and the one team that could still catch them in the standings, the Prentice Buccaneers.

Rib Lake won a tight one with the Bucs in their first meeting, 61-54 back on Dec. 19. This one was decided much earlier. A 27-2 run spanning the end of the first half and the start of the second turned a 16-15 game into a 43-17 blowout with just over 10 minutes to go. While the Buccaneers did emerge from their offensive funk in those last 10 minutes, Rib Lake had a large enough lead to coast the rest of the way and cut down the net in celebration after the final buzzer sounded.

“It means everything,” said Jackson Blomberg, one of the four core senior members this year’s roster is built around. “We’ve had this in our minds since fifth grade.”

“It’s honestly insane,” senior Andrew Wudi said. “It’s such a surreal moment to know that we’re actually here.”

“It’s great to do it with the people we grew up with,” Donovan Sutherland said. “We grew up together wanting this.”

Friday’s win certainly wasn’t just about the seniors. Sophomore Talon Scheithauer hit three 3-point baskets during the gamebreaking run and led all scorers with 16 points. That was just an example of what has put Rib Lake 18-5 overall and 11-4 in Marawood games heading into its regularseason finale tonight, Thursday, at home against the Phillips Loggers.

Team defense was certainly the key to Friday’s clinching win, while offensively there are few teams that move the ball and unselfishly share the ball as well as the Redmen when things are clicking. On Friday, the Redmen had 18 assists on 33 field goals, led by Wudi’s six and Dominic Quednow’s four.

“Everyone has a part,” said Quednow, the fourth member of that core senior group. “We’re playing as a heck of a team right now.”

A week after shooting just 26% from the field in a loss to Stratford, Rib Lake came out sharp against the Bucs, grabbing a quick 11-3 lead. Wudi had a basket and assists to Quednow and Sutherland in the run, while sophomore Seth Borchardt capped it with a 3-pointer.

Prentice whittled the lead to one on two Hagan Isaacson free throws with 5:37 left in the half, but a Scheithauer 3 ignited the 27-2 run that put the game away. Wudi’s steal led to a Scheithauer basket, then Wudi got another defensive deflection and dove to keep the ball in bounds. Quednow scooped up the loose ball near midcourt, took it to the rim, scored and was fouled. The three-point play made it 27-15 with 3:04 left in the half. Wudi’s rebound basket made it 29-15 at the break. Scheithauer sank two more triples to start the second half. After a Blomberg free throw, Sutherland scored off a Quednow assist and Wudi drove the left side of the lane and scored. Quednow’s 3-pointer made it 43-17 before Prentice finally got an Andrew Murphy basket and two 3-pointers from Jonas Staroba to end Rib Lake’s run. “Defense wins championships,” Blomberg said of holding the Bucs to two points in nearly 13 minutes. “It was just a sense of urgency the whole time.”

“We came out with maybe the most intensity we’ve ever had,” Sutherland said.

“We had a plan in practice that we just stuck to,” Wudi said. “We knew we had to stick tight to their shooters, get over all the ball screens. We knew what we were going up against. We’ve played them before. It’s just executing at this point.”

Prentice shot just 26.8% from the field overall (15 for 56) and was just 10 of 42 on two-point shots. The shot chart shows Prentice making just seven of 32 shots in the lane. The stats also show Rib Lake with a 45-40 rebounding edge, but it felt like the Redmen got the key boards when it mattered.

“Me and Dom were just crashing the boards after every shot,” Sutherland said. “One time there was a shot that went up, me and Jackson crashed and Dom was already underneath me and we all ran into each other. We were all over the boards.”

Wudi finished with 14 points and five rebounds to go with his six assists. Sutherland had 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. Quednow and Blomberg both scored eight points. Quednow had eight rebounds. Blomberg had seven boards and three assists. Borchardt had five points and three rebounds. Jed Henderson had two points and two assists and senior Corey Fuchs punctuated the fun with two free throws with 55 seconds left.

Aidan Hause had a solid night in the post for Prentice with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Evan Lord had 12 points as well.

Going into tonight’s Phillips game, Rib Lake is a perfect 9-0 in Marawood North games.

“This is the biggest sports accomplishment we’ve ever had as a team,” Quednow said. “I think it goes deeper than basketball too. We all just love each other so much. It’s not even just basketball. It’s baseball and football too.”

“Last week was a little rough, it kinda scared me a little bit,” Wudi said. “This week we definitely picked it up. This game gives me a lot of hope for us. We worked the ball around a lot, we got good shots. I like where we’re going and I like our odds right now.”

Redmen 58, Eagles 48

Rib Lake followed up Friday’s win with a hard-fought 58-48 win over visiting Chequamegon Monday night.

The Screaming Eagles left town with just a 2-13 Marawood record and a 4-19 overall mark, but they’ve played good basketball in the last month and didn’t make it easy on the Redmen.

Sophomore forward Cooper Michalski scored 25 points and AJ Morgan added 17. Both are physical presences inside that can also knock down shots from the outside.

But Rib Lake, who fell behind 10-0 to start the Senior Night contest, had too much balance, getting double-figure scoring from three sources. Quednow led the Redmen with 18 points, Wudi had 11 and Blomberg added 10.

“Stratford only beat them by three a couple of weeks ago,” Rib Lake head coach Todd Henderson said of Chequamegon. “They are much improved from the start of the season, especially (Michalski). He’s really found some confidence. He is an athletic kid.”

Rib Lake went on a 15-2 run to erase Chequamegon’s early lead. Wudi got a three-point play after the Redmen saved a possession with several offensive rebounds and then Blomberg got another three-point play off a baseline inbound play to give the Redmen a 15-12 lead. Chequamegon responded with a basket by Morgan, a driving score from Michalski, another Morgan hoop and a Michalski 3 to lead 21-17. The Eagles tried to slow the game down with some four-corner sets, but Rib Lake was able to stop if for the most part, tied the game at 23-23 on a Talon Scheithauer score and then took the lead for good when Blomberg raced up the floor with a defensive rebound and found Sutherland for the score and Quednow followed that with a basket.

“There were a couple times I thought we were a little quick on our shot, but overall I think we did a good job of attacking the rim, trying to get there and not settling for any shot,” Todd Henderson said. Rib Lake did most of its damage inside, making 21 of 34 two-point shots. “We were working to get to the free throw line or getting a shot at the rim. That’s how you have to get back. One play at a time and not try to get it back all at once in bunches.”

Rib Lake led 27-25 at the half but couldn’t really create any separation until Borchardt hit a 3-pointer and Blomberg dropped a pass to the trailing Sutherland for a layup to make it 47-38 with just under 10 minutes left. The Screaming Eagles got as close as 51-46 on a Michalski free throw, but Scheithauer’s elbow jumper with 3:35 to go, followed by a Sutherland steal that led to a Quednow layup put it away at 5546 with 2:20 left.

“The other thing was defense. Defense that led to offense,” coach Henderson said. “We had some nice steals that led to transition baskets. We let Cooper get inside a little too much, but we did better at the end of doubling him to stop that. I think we were realizing there were three other guys on the court that aren’t trying to shoot much. It’s mainly AJ and Cooper. We had to try to force those other guys to step up if they’re going to beat us.”

Sutherland chipped in offensively for Rib Lake with eight points, Scheithauer had six and Borchardt scored five.

Wudi had five more assists and six rebounds. Blomberg and Sutherland had six rebounds apiece. Blomberg, Sutherland and Quednow had two assists each while Quednow had three steals.

After tonight’s game, Rib Lake’s focus turns to the WIAA Division 5 tournament, where the Redmen drew the one-seed in their half of the sectional. Rib Lake hosts winless Butternut in the regional opener Tuesday. Barring a major upset, the Redmen will host a March 1 regional semifinal against either ninth-seeded Bayfield (9-11) or eighth-seeded Thorp (11-12). The regional final March 2 could be a home rematch with Owen-Withee (15-8), who Rib Lake beat 66-58 on Dec. 5.

“(Keep winning) is the goal at this point,” Todd Henderson said. “No more losses. Enjoy the ride and make it last as long as we can.”

“Respect everyone, fear no one,” Blomberg said Friday of the team’s approach moving forward.

Rib Lake’s Seth Borchardt dribbles by Prentice defender Eliah Harding late in the second half of the team’s championship-clinching 66-47 win Friday. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS

Rib Lake’s Jackson Blomberg absorbs contact from Chequamegon defender Isaiah Bourgard while trying to get into the lane during Monday’s 58-48 win. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS