Jacob friede/lakeland times

Lakeland’s Cody Wolfe drives the hoop past his defender on Tuesday night at Medford.
Jacob friede/lakeland times

Lakeland’s Cody Wolfe drives the hoop past his defender on Tuesday night at Medford.
The Lakeland boys basketball team traveled to Medford on Tuesday night for the opening round of the WIAA state tournament.

The Thunderbirds battled, but were unable to combat the extreme intensity with which the Raiders played and Lakeland fell to Medford 62-46.

“They try to promote discomfort for the opposing team and they did,” Lakeland head coach Rich Fortier about Medford said. “They made us uncomfortable in a lot of different ways, whether it’s handling the ball, shooting the ball, getting rebounds. They’re all over you.”

From the get go the game went at 100 MPH and Medford jumped out to a 15-6 lead with the help of relentless, swarming defense and three early 3-pointers.

But then Cody Wolfe scored a bucket for Lakeland, Alex Fortier hit a three, and Ray Rentmeester drove the lane and was fouled and completed a three point play to put the T-Birds within one at 15-14.

But that was as close as Lakeland would get to the Raiders as Medford would answer with an 11-2 run and build a lead the Thunderbirds would never be able to overcome.

At halftime the score was 31-18.

Lakeland’s Collin Quade was determined to chip into the Medford lead and he would open the second half with three straight 3-pointers. On one he was fouled and completed the four-point play.

“I thought Collin did a nice job of just trying to put us on his back,” Fortier said. 

But it always seemed like Medford had an answer and they matched each of Quade’s threes with a bucket of their own and then went on another 6-0 run to get back up by nine.

For the remainder of the game, no matter what the T-Birds did, Medford, with the boost of a very loud and rowdy home crowd, was always one step and 10 to 12 points ahead.

Lakeland, though they struggled from the field at times, never went on a major scoring drought, but neither did Medford and that’s why the Raiders were able to maintain their distance.

“They want to play with a passion and energy that’s second to none,” Fortier said of Medford. “Every game we play them I feel that way and they do. They just play so hard. It’s not that we don’t it’s just uncommon for teams to play as hard as they do. They didn’t have huge runs tonight, but they had a lot of little mini runs that really hurt us.”

The last of those Medford runs was an 8-3 stretch at the end of the game that finally put the Thunderbirds away and ended their season.

“I think it was a tough season for us, and I thought the guys really fought through,” Fortier said. “I give the guys credit. They stayed on the ship and they fought their butts off. No matter what happens when you do this, it stings at the end.  It always does.”

Lakeland was led by Collin Quade and Jonathan Jurries who each had 12 points. 

Medford got 13 points from Doug Way and 11 from Zach Haynes.

Lakeland finished the season 11-12 overall and in fourth place, at 6-6, in the Great Northern Conference.  

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.