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Posted On: 02/19/18 11:18 AM
The WIAA State Tournament seedings were released over the weekend. With tournament play beginning across the state on Feb. 27, Prep Hoops takes a look ahead to the field in Division 1.
MOST INTRIGUING OPENING ROUND GAMES
(6) Oshkosh West vs. (11) Eau Claire Memorial
Oshkosh West’s 1-2 punch of Derek Kroll and Karter Thomas can be tough for teams to counter. Interested to see what this team can do once they get out of Fox Valley play and they will certainly be battle tested having gone through arguably the strongest conference in the state. West has wins over Kimberly, Milwaukee Riverside and also had Brookfield Central and Brookfield East on the ropes. Eau Claire Memorial comes in at just 9-11, but has some juice in Caden Boser and Wisconsin football commit Cormac Sampson.
(7) Homestead vs. (10) Fond Du Lac
Fond Du Lac has taken their lumps in the Fox Valley Association, but this team has strong guards who can shoot the basketball, complimented by an athletic forward in Quintin Winterfeldt, who’s had a strong second half of the season. A lot of the same can be said for Homestead, but who’s managed to reach second place in a strong North Shore Conference.
(4) Madison Lafollette vs. 13 Kenosha Tremper
The guards in this game should put on quite a show. Tremper features Trisitian Jass, an electric, high-flying talent that’s capable of big numbers, including a 36-point effort vs. Oak Creek earlier this season. One of the surprise teams in the state, Lafollette has a strong backcourt, relying on 2019’s Donneil Gray and Troy Reeves, who are two creative scorers in their own right.
(7) Racine Horlick vs. (10) Milwaukee Hamilton
It’s not often you see a team with two 20-point per game game scorer, but Horlick has exactly that. Guards Marcus Caldwell and Marquise Milton are one of the most dynamic 1-2 punches in the state. They’ll get one of the top seniors in the Badger State, Keontae White. Averaging 25 points per game this season, White is just about as dangerous with the ball in his hands than any player in Wisconsin.
BIGGEST DARK HORSE TEAMS (Seeded lower than 3)
Eau Claire North
17-3 is a very strong record for a 4-seed. The Huskies have three players averaging at least 15 points per game, led by Noah Hanson (17.9) and Dalton Banks (17.6 ppg). North’s three losses have come by a combined nine points. The leaders of the Big Rivers Conference also have a big win over La Crosse Central on their resume.
As a 7-seed, this is a scary team to face. The Highlanders might be 12-9 overall, but are 12-5 in a loaded North Shore Conference, trailing only
Cedarburg atop the standings. Junior guard Ryan Waddell (17.7 ppg) is catching fire at the right time and is one of the biggest risers in the 2019 class this season. Homestead has been competitive against some of the state’s best, suffering close losses to Milwaukee Destiny, Cedarburg, and Brookfield East. They’ve also taken the 2-seed from this sectional, Arrowhead, down to the wire, falling 73-72 back on Jan. 13. That said, the Highlanders come in battle tested and probably don’t feel as if there’s a team in Sectional 2 that they can’t beat.
Looking at who can potentially knock off top seed Sun Prairie, Madison Memorial has a recipe for success. The Spartans beat the Cardinals in the first meeting this season, granted Jalen Johnson was not in the lineup, which makes a big difference. In the rematch that included Johnson, Sun Prairie came out with just a 41-32 victory. Steve Collins is sort of the Tom Izzo of Wisconsin high school basketball and usually has his team playing their best ball during tournament time. The Spartans also have a bad taste in their mouth, seeing their 14-year Big Eight Conference title streak snapped by the Cardinals.
You can take Riverside or Racine Park here. The Tigers are the lower seed (5), so we’ll go with them. When you have a guard like Carlos Curtis, who dominates just about every facet of the game, the East Tennessee State commit is capable of carrying this team to Madison. Riverside will have a chance to claim a share of the Milwaukee City Conference if they can defeat Milwaukee Washington. This team also prepared itself for March, playing a lot of different styles in the non-conference, including Whitnall, Waunakee, Arrowhead, and Oshkosh West.
MOST INTRIGUING POTENTIAL SECTIONAL FINALS
Stevens Point vs. Oshkosh North
This could be a rematch of last season’s sectional final, which Stevens Point won 76-61. Tyrese Haliburton, Quincy Anderson, and Oshkosh North look like the favorites in Division 1, but facing a scorer like Drew Blair, who can heat up like a microwave, would be an interesting test.
Arrowhead vs. Bay Port
1-seed Bay Port has a deep group of seniors who play well off each other. The Pirates can dump the ball inside to Iowa football commit Jack Plumb and surround him with shooters. Add an athletic wing in Cordell Tinch who can act as an eraser defensively and give Bay Port plenty of second chance opportunities, the Pirates look like the clear favorite in sectional 2. Can 2-seed Arrowhead provide a challenge? The likely Classic Eight champs are heating up, riding an eight-game winning streak.
Sun Prairie vs. Waunakee
Jalen Johnson vs. Mitch Listau? Yes please. The most gifted player in the state could take on the best on-ball defender in Wisconsin. This would be a contested dog fight with blue collar players such as Mason Steffen and Marlon Ruffin also going at it. Making the move to Division 1, Waunakee has reached the state tournament in each of the last two seasons in Division 2. However, Sun Prairie is unbeaten with Johnson in the lineup this season.
Brookfield East vs. Brookfield Central
No offence to top seed Franklin who’s had a heck of a year, but round three between two city rivals would be a must-see game. East and Central split the two meetings this season and will likely both earn a share of the Greater Metro Conference. A rubber match between city rivals with a trip to state on the line would be a real treat for Wisconsin high school basketball fans.
MOST UNPREDICTABLE SECTIONAL
There are five teams that can win Sectional 4.
As a 5-seed, Milwaukee Riverside is about as dangerous as it gets. Do-it-all guard Carlos Curtis and his running mates, Montrell Jacobs and Jason Webb have plenty of offensive firepower to make it to Madison.
Racine Park might be a year away, but that’s a team you don’t want to see no matter what seed you are. The 4-seed Panthers, led by Larry Canady and Nobal Days, have an organized chaos type style that can really fluster opponents.
It’s tough to determine who the actual favorite is between the top three seeds, Franklin (1), Brookfield East (2), and Brookfield Central (3). Even getting into the heart of the field there are teams seeded sixth or lower that can win multiple games.
Oshkosh North might be the favorite across Division 1. The Spartans have only lost one game all season. That came to Kaukauna on the road, a team who might win the Division 2 crown. North plays the fastest tempo in the state. Their 1-3-1 zone causes so much havoc. After throttling the Ghosts in the rematch, North looks to be primed to reach to Madison.
Bay Port has a very favorable sectional. Even so, they’re talented enough to make it to the Kohl Center. A cohesive unit that just played with Sun Prairie without their second-best player, The Pirates have balance, depth, defensive tenacity, and the ability to score in a variety of ways. They may not have the most talent, but Bay Port won’t beat themselves as they’ll be a tough out.
Sun Prairie hasn’t lost with Jalen Johnson in the lineup. The Cardinals are a dominant unit that’s more than just Marlon Ruffin and Johnson. The Cardinals are loaded with role players who have all bought in and take pride in doing their job — whatever that is. One concern is this team can play on cruise control at times. Still, depth and star power are two key components for winning a state crown. Sun Prairie has plenty of both.
Franklin is the top seed. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt over Brookfield Central and Brookfield East. It’s rare to see a squad without a Division 1 prospect on their roster, put up a 19-1 record and get the top overall seed in that area, but the Sabers have answered the bell all season. We haven’t seen this team against the cream of the crop teams in the state yet. However, led by Max Alba, Franklin executes its stuff about as well as anybody in the state.