As the calendar turns to February and the basketball season crawls toward tournament, every game becomes important but Friday's contest against the Lakeland and Medford boys' basketball teams may have been a playoff preview. The Raiders were coming off a win over conference leader and the favorite to get number one seed in the regional, Rhinelander. Lakeland also in the same regional was looking for a signature win to make its claim over Merrill and Mosinee. With so much on the line, it was Lakeland who came out on top as they pulled away in the second half to earn a 65-56 win. Both teams came out of the gate making two-point baskets as a foreshadowing of the game to come. At the end of the first quarter, Lakeland held an 11-10 lead. In the second quarter, Lakeland built a six point lead but back-to-back three pointers by Medford tied the game at 16-16 with five minutes to play in the half. The Raiders continued to hit their shots and at the half, Medford led 25-22. In the third period, Medford pushed their lead to as much as seven but with two minutes remaining, Tom Bruckner hit two free throws for Lakeland to tie the game at 40-40. The Thunderbirds scored the last four points of the period to lead 44-40. Lakeland would extend their lead to as much as 10 points in the fourth quarter. The Thunderbirds would ice the game on the free throw line, going 20-22 on the night from the charity stripe to secure the win. Dylan Lerdal led the Thunderbirds in scoring with 18 points, while Bruckner chipped in 17.
Girls Basketball - Medford 44, Lakeland 40 Lakeland led with less than 1:30 seconds to play but were outscored 6-1 in the final stretch to fall 44-40 on the road at Medford. Jamie Lee gave Lakeland a 39-38 lead with 1:22 to go as she made a free throw. But Medford came back and hit back-to-back baskets to go up three. After Lakeland made a free throw with less than 12 seconds to play to pull within two points, Medford got a fast break basket to seal the game and hand the Thunderbirds the heartbreaking loss.
Boys Swimming - Lakeland wins title The Lakeland boys' swim team closed out their perfect regular season with a conference championship Friday at the GNC conference meet in Medford. Lakeland scored 431 points, well ahead of second-place Shawano with 319. Rhinelander scored 229 points, while Tomahawk (148) and Medford (118) rounded out the field.
For more from these events, including comments from coaches and complete stats, see the Tuesday print edition of The Lakeland Times.