Girffin Stiemke (No. 33) rises up for a shot over a Tomahawk defender during the first half of last week’s win at home.
Girffin Stiemke (No. 33) rises up for a shot over a Tomahawk defender during the first half of last week’s win at home.
The Northland Pines boys basketball team beat Medford 76-64 and Tomahawk 55-45 last week to remain undefeated in the Great Northern Conference (GNC).

The Eagles also topped Division 1 Merrill 90-81 last Tuesday in a nonconference game to improve to 10-2 overall (see related story).

The victory at Medford in a makeup game Saturday evening was the first time that Pines won at Raider Hall in nearly 18 years, when the Eagles topped the Raiders 63-50 on Jan. 13, 2004.

On Saturday, the Eagles rolled into Medford looking to knock off the two-time defending conference champs. Pines took an early 14-10 led with 9 minutes remaining in the first half and the Eagles held a slim 21-18 lead with 4 minutes remaining.

“This was good basketball, playoff basketball,” said Pines coach Terry Klemett. “Both teams were trying to impose their will on the other and we did a great job on both ends.”

The Eagles would go into the break up 30-27.

“I thought we played a fantastic first half. We didn’t have any turnovers and we defended them very well,” said Klemett. “We did lose a couple loose-ball rebounds that they scored on, but overall it was good half of basketball.”

The Eagles came out of the locker room and took an early 39-34 lead. Three-pointers by Ryan Muench and Nolan Lurvey started a big 18-2 run by the Eagles. A Miles McCanles 3-pointer from the corner put the Eagles up 57-36 with just over 11 minutes to play.

The Raiders made a charge of their own to outscore the Eagles 13-3 and close the gap to 60-49 with 5 minutes to play. The Raiders would use full-court pressure in the final minutes, but the Eagles ran a good offense to keep a 12-point lead 71-59. A couple drives by Lurvey and a pass under the basket to Gabe Smith sealed the 76-64 win for the Eagles.

“This was just a fantastic basketball game. It was the best game we played all year and you have to play that way if you want to have a chance to beat them at their place,” said Klemett. “Medford hasn’t lost a conference game at their place in over three years.”

The Eagles shot a blazing 69% (24 of 35) on field goals and 43% (6 of 14) from the 3-point line. Pines only had six turnovers.

Lurvey put in another fine game with 18 points, eight assists and five rebounds. He was seven of 10 on field goals.

“Nolan was fantastic again tonight. He sprained his ankle late in the first half and came out and had a better second half. He is just unbelievable,” said Klemett.

Smith led the Eagles with 21 points (10 of 15 on field goals) and six rebounds.

“Gabe is a monster. He just keeps getting better and better,” said Klemett.

Muench with 15 points had another fine floor game and defensively slowed down Medford’s leading scorer, Logan Baumgartner.

“Ryan just has a motor. He plays so hard and just wears other teams out. He seems to make big plays at the right time,” said Klemett.

“Deven Millis, whose task was guarding Baumgartner and their second-leading scorer Joey Sullivan, had a strong game on both ends,” said Klemett. “Deven gets after people. He understands what he has to do defensively and loves the challenge. He was great tonight.”

The Eagles took on the Tomahawk Hatchets at the fieldhouse on Friday and came away with a 55-45 victory in the GNC matchup.

Pines took control early after a slow start and led 14-6 with 10 minutes remaining. The Hatchets ran a deliberate offense, but the Eagles pressure defense was too much as Pines dominated the first half and went into the break up 32-9.

“Our guys did a nice job of getting out and defending and got stops for easy run outs and we broke the game open,” said Klemett. “We did start out slow and Tomahawk did a nice job of being patient, but our pressure was too much for them.”

The Eagles continued to soar in the second half, building a commanding 46-11 lead which allowed Klemett to rotate a lot of players into the game and get some players rest prior to the Medford game.

The Hatchets did start to climb back into the game late, cutting the Eagles lead 49-31 at the 9-minute mark. Tomahawk would go on a 20-5 run late and cut the lead down to 54-41 with 3 minutes remaining.

“We did a poor job of playing defense in the last 12 minutes. It was very disappointing,” said Klemett.

The Hatchets would close the gap to 10 points as the Eagles ran out the last minute of the game to secure a 55-45 win. Lurvey paced the Eagles with 11 points and eight rebounds. Steimke led the Eagles with 13 points and six rebounds.

“I was happy we got to rest a lot of our guys and get some other guys some quality game time,” said Klemett. “We do have to understand when guys get in the game, they have to focus defensively and play our system.”

The Eagles, currently on a 4-game win streak, continue their tough schedule as they played Monday (after deadline) at home against a very good Mosinee team in a GNC battle for first place. They were scheduled to take on Division 1 Wausau East Tuesday for a nonconference game.

Pines will return home this Friday, Jan. 28, to take on Rhinelander in another GNC match up starting at 7:15 p.m.