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Posted On: 02/2/18 10:44 AM
Gearing up for the stretch run in the WIAA basketball regular season, Prep Hoops ranks the top 10 teams in the state of Wisconsin regardless of division.
1. Kaukauna (15-2)
The Ghosts have a loss to Kimberly, which they recently avenged. The other came at the City of Palms Classic in Florida. When the lights are on, this team plays its best in the big moments. Kaukauna has also knocked off Oshkosh North, Waunakee, and a very good Mars (PA) team.
West Virginia commit Jordan McCabe has a state tournament title under his belt. He’s playing at a similar level of two years ago when he completely dictated every game and there wasn’t a thing his opponents could do to stop him. McCabe’s passing ability surrounded by shooters like Michigan Tech commit Eric Carl, Keaton Ferris, and Dylan Kurey, a big man who also excels in the pick n’ roll with McCabe, makes this offense is so dangerous.
2. Oshkosh North (16-1)
If you play Oshkosh North, you better be ready for 36 minutes of havoc. No team in the state gets after people or plays a faster pace. Even after made baskets, the Spartans are in their offense and often getting a clean look at the basket within 5-7 seconds of that ball going through the net. Iowa State commit Tyrese Haliburton and Quincy Anderson form one of the best 1-2 punches in the state. North also has a number of interior players, such as Matt Hickey, that pride themselves on doing the dirty work that really round out this team.
3. Sun Prairie (15-1)
This team is built for a run in Division 1. The Cardinals are undefeated with Jalen Johnson in the lineup. Their lone loss came at the hands of Big Eight power Madison Memorial by just three points. Marlon Ruffin has been a do-it-all guard for Sun Prairie this season and is one of the best two-way impact players in the state. On top of that, their role players have been terrific this season and always seem ready when called upon. If Delaware Hale continues to progress and gives Sun Prairie the effort he did against Brookfield Central, we could be talking about a state championship team.
4. Brookfield East (14-1)
Defense wins championships, but I still need to see more to determine if this Brookfield East team is for real. I’ll give them this, they lock people up and really fluster opponents with hard-nosed, disciplined defense that forces you to live outside the paint. But are they too reliant on Hillsdale commit Patrick Cartier? Against Oshkosh West, Cartier picked up two early fouls and East found themselves down by double digits at the half before storming back behind their 21 ppg scorer. Seven of their 14 wins have come by single digits, but the Spartans have managed to hang on in close affairs and trail Brookfield Central by just .5 games in the Greater Metro.
5. Pewaukee (17-1)
Wright State commit Grant Basile is making his future coaching staff look really good. There’s a lot of schools who passed on this kid and now Basile is blossoming as a senior, averaging better than 24 points per game. A lot of of opponents are having trouble matching up with Basile. Then throw in Hillsdale commit Jack Gohlke, who not only runs the show, but can take over the scoring load, Pewaukee should win the Woodland West comfortably. Pewaukee’s box-and-1 zone will also prove to be problematic in March, especially to opponents who haven’t seen it.
6. Waunakee (15-2)
I’m not writing off Waunakee. This team has been hit by injuries all season, but now they’re starting to get healthy and have won seven in a row since getting dropped by Kaukauna. That run includes very good wins over Nicolet, Stevens Point, and Stoughton. The move from Division 2 to Division 1 complicates their state tournament hopes, but this is still consistently year in and year out one of the best coached programs in the state. Belmont commit Mitch Listau and Minnesota-Duluth commit Mason Steffen both have state tournament experience that will help them down the stretch.
7. Appleton Xavier (17-0)
You don’t see big names from this Division 3 power, but what I see is a team that’s been around the block, plays extremely well together, and has established such a winning culture that they expect to beat whoever they line up against. There’s not one team that’s managed to stay within single digits of Xavier this season. The Hawks have won 45 consecutive games going back to last season behind Minnesota-Duluth commit Hunter Plamann, Sam Ferris, and Nate DeYoung.
8. Franklin (16-1)
Again, not a team with big name recognition, but kids who buy into the system and have battled together over the years. Franklin is also tested. The Sabers swept Racine Park, defeated Milwaukee Hamilton, and won all three games at the Great 8 Holiday Tournament in Florida. North Carolina baseball commit Max Alba has the green light every time he touches the basketball and has been delivering, scoring 21.5 ppg this season.
9. Brookfield Central (12-4)
A team that’s probably under performed this season, but is getting hot at the right time, keep an eye on Brookfield Central. The Lancers have played a tough schedule and opened the year by losing two of their first three. After a big win over Brookfield East, Central now finds themselves atop the Greater Metro standings. The Lancers have an abundance of Division talent in Cole Nau, David Joplin, and Gage Malensek. If they can put it all together, this team is very dangerous come tournament time and by next month could be in the top five of these power rankings.
10. Racine Park (12-2)
The Panthers have lost only to Franklin this season. Led by Larry Canady and Nobal Days, Park has terrific balance and a deep lineup that can fill a variety of roles across the board. Size, athleticism, and speed will make this team a tough out in March. After getting knocked out early in last season’s playoffs, this team will be hungry to make it deep in 2018.
Honorable Mention: Madison Memorial, Racine Park, Onalaska, Monona Grove, La Crosse Central, Brown Deer, Waupun, Kimberly, Whitnall, Martin Luther, Cedarburg, Dominican, Wisconsin Dells, Milwaukee Washington