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Posted On: 02/26/18 5:19 PM
10 teams who didn’t receive a number one seed in the WIAA Tournament that could make a run to state in March…
Black River Falls
Getting past 3-seed Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau would be no picnic. The two teams split the regular season meetings, but Black River Falls took the most recent meeting. From there, the two 1-seeds in this sectional are Prescott and Wisconsin Dells.
One of the top players in Division 3, Ethan Anderson (28.2 ppg) is putting up huge numbers as a senior. Depth is important this time of year the Tigers have two other players averaging in double figures this season.
In terms of individual talent, there’s no question Brookfield Central has the most stacked roster in their sectional, but can they put it all together? The Lancers have three Division 1 talents in Gage Malensek (20.7 ppg), Cole Nau (13.0 ppg), and David Joplin (10.8 ppg).
Central has four losses, but all to teams that could make their way to Madison — Milwaukee Washington, Sun Prairie, Brookfield East, and Oshkosh North. The Lancers won nine-straight to win the Greater Metro Conference outright and are riding high going into tournament play.
It was a tough finish to the season for Brookfield East, who were in position to win the Greater Metro Conference outright and ended up with no title at all. Still, the Spartans are a 20-2 unit and one of the biggest surprises in the state this season.
Hilldale commit Patrick Cartier (22.2 ppg) has been sensational in big games this season. East could get a rematch with Brookfield Central in the sectional semifinal. Should they advance, the Spartans could take on top seed Franklin in West Allis.
You don’t see many 18-4 teams that finished third in their own conference, but that’s a testament to how stacked the Fox Valley Association was this season. As a result, the Papermakers received a well-deserved 2-seed in Division 1.
Three of Kimberly’s four losses came to Oshkosh North (2) and Kaukauna, arguably state championship favorites in each of their divisions. It’s hard to beat a team three times in a given season, but that’s what the Spartans would have to do, assuming they meet the Papermakers in the sectional final. North’s average margin of victory in those two contests was just 6.0 points.
Led by Winona State commit Alec Rosner (17.9 ppg), Kimberly may have a tough task getting past 3-seed Stevens Point or 6-seed Oshkosh West, who did defeat them in January, but should the Papermakers get a rematch with the Spartans, they definitely won’t walk into that game feeling like a big underdog.
They’ll have to get through La Crosse Central in the Division 2 sectional semifinal in all likelihood, but that game could decide who advances to state. Onalaska split the two regular season meetings with the Red Raiders, with each team winning on its home floor.
The Hilltoppers enter the tournament on a two-game slide, but have steadily been building a Division 2 power. Onalaska perhaps lacks some of the star power of the other top contenders in Division 2, but this is a well-coached group that knows how to win.
The Prairie School
This team has exceeded a lot of expectations, out-dueling Dominican, Racine St. Catherine’s, and Martin Luther to win the Metro Classic Conference. At 18-4 overall, the Hawks rolled through a top heavy conference with a 15-1 mark. UC-Irvine commit J.C. Butler (27.3 ppg) is the straw that stirs the drink, but the Prairie School has also gotten some big campaigns from a couple small prospects on their roster.
This sectional is stacked, however. Before they even get out of regionals, the Hawks could face Milwaukee Academy of Science, who’s only a 3-seed because of their independent status and play a loaded schedule. The reigning Division 4 state champions, Milwaukee Destiny could be just a sectional semifinal matchup. If they can get through that gauntlet, the top seed in the other regional is 17-5 Roncalli, who finished third in their own conference.
Waunakee steps up to Division 1 this season. Despite being plagued by injuries, the Warriors went 20-2 overall and claimed the Badger North Conference and the 2-seed in their sectional. Arguably the top two-way player in the state, Belmont commit Mitch Listau (23.1 ppg) can not only score at a high clip, but take away the opposition’s best player out of the game.
Reaching the state tournament in each of the last two seasons, Waunakee will have a steeper road to Madison with Big Eight powers Madison East and Madison Memorial standing in their way. A potential sectional final with Sun Prairie would be a tall task, but the Warriors match up pretty well with the Cardinals.
This team has made vast improvements since last season. When you have Kentucky commit Tyler Herro (32.6 ppg), they’re capable of beating anybody.
At 18-6 overall, Whitnall won a share of the Woodland East Conference. The Falcons have state tournament experience, appearing in Madison from two seasons ago. A 2-seed in Division 2, Whitnall has only lost to title contenders Oshkosh North, Waunakee, and Brown Deer from inside the border.
The Falcons would have a tough run to Madison. A potential sectional semifinal rematch with Woodland West champ and top seed Pewaukee awaits. A huge clash with 1-seed Milwaukee Washington would likely be in the sectional final.
Having seen this team in person, Winnebago Lutheran is very under-seeded. Not only were the Vikings slept on after a 19-3 season, they have plenty of college talent for a Division 4 team.
Despite being a 4-seed, Winnebago Lutheran won the Flyaway Conference by two games. The Vikings will get great point guard play from Mason Herkstroeter (17.2 ppg). Alex Kuehl (14.5 ppg) is also an athletic game changer on both ends. WLA has terrific size with Noah Lorenz (6-8) and Gabe Pruss (6-7) that make it tough for opponents to score close to the rim.
The Vikings have some losses that make you scratch your head, but the eye test on this team says they’re not only a sleeper, but a state title contender.
At 18-4 overall, Wrightstown won the North Eastern Conference. The Tigers have a balanced scoring attack, led by Mayson Hazaert (18.3 ppg) and enter the tournament having won 11 of their last 12 games.
In the same regional as Division 3 favorite Appleton Xavier, Wrightstown would need to a pull a heck of an upset, but if they can get to the sectional final, the Tigers may get a rematch with 1-seed Valders, who they played competitively early in the season.