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Posted On: 02/20/18 3:01 PM
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 2.
MOST INTRIGUING OPENING ROUND GAMES
(7) Hortonville vs. (10) Antigo
Hortonville won six games in a loaded Fox Valley Association. A team that could be turning somewhat of a corner, the Polar Bears gave Rhinelander a good battle and are coming off a dismantling of Wausau East. Antigo is just 3-8 in conference play, but went 9-0 outside the Great Northern Conference.
(8) Menasha vs. (9) Green Bay West
These two teams will meet for a third time. Green Bay West and Menasha split the two regular season matchups with an average margin of victory equaling just 5.0 points.
(8) Portage vs. (9) Reedsburg
Two of the top players in the sectional, Reedsburg’s Tyson Tully and Portage’s Craig Steele will square off. The teams split the two regular season meetings, with the Beavers taking a thrilling 71-68 victory in the most recent matchup.
(8) Messmer vs. (9) Milwaukee Marshall
Messmer has some talented sleepers. The Bishops have been competitive against some of the better teams in the area, including Milwaukee King and New Berlin West and it’s a unit that just doesn’t go away and fights for 36 minutes. Milwaukee Marshall is slumping, having lost eight-straight to conference foes, but were close to some upsets against Riverside, Vincent, and Hamilton.
BIGGEST DARK HORSE TEAMS (Seeded 3rd or lower)
(3) Rice Lake
Big Rivers Conference leaders Eau Claire North and River Falls have handed Rice Lake three of their five losses. The Warriors also split the two regular season meetings with North and hung in there against DeLaSalle, one of the top teams in Minnesota. Rice Lake has a nice 1-2 punch of Averie Habas and Spencer Page that could give Onalaska and La Crosse Central some trouble.
(3) Notre Dame
A 12-5 mark in the Fox River Classic Conference this season is no joke. This team has beaten Bay Port, a squad that looks primed for a run to state in Division 1. Notre Dame will have a chance to sweep the Pirates on Thursday. The 2-seed in this half of the sectional is Pulaski, who the Tritons just beat 59-56 on Feb. 6. Notre Dame also has one of the best post players in the sectional, 2018 power forward Matthew Rader, who’s averaging 15 points and nine rebounds per game.
(4) Mount Horeb
There’s a couple teams that you can pick here, including DeForest, Waukesha West, and Elkhorn. Mount Horeb surely won’t be fazed by many of the top seeds in this sectional. If the Vikings past McFarland, they’ll likely get top seed Monona Grove. The two met in the Badger Challenge earlier this season, with the Silver Eagles escaping by a narrow 62-59 margin. If that rematch occurs, you have to feel like Mount Horeb will be confident in their chances to pull an upset and reach sectionals.
(3) Whitefish Bay
This team is peaking at the right time. Whitefish Bay has won eight of their last nine and knocked off Cedarburg, Homestead, and Nicolet, the top three teams in the North Shore Conference. Point guard play is critical this time of year. The Blue Dukes have a good one in Cade Garcia.
MOST INTRIGUING POTENTIAL SECTIONAL FINALS
(1) Rhinelander vs. (1) La Crosse Central
Can Central return to state and possibly repeat? It’s a tall task for a young group, who will likely have to get through Onalaska before they can even think about a sectional final. At 19-2, Rhinelander would be a worthy adversary. The Great Northern Conference champions feature Michigan Tech commit Owen White and have lost just one game since Nov. 25.
(1) Kaukauna vs. (1) Cedarburg
Two of the state’s most prolific scorers appear destined in what could be a classic. West Virginia commit Jordan McCabe and DePaul commit John Diener would be worth the price of admission alone. Kaukauna won the state championship two years ago, while Cedarburg is looking to avenge a loss in last season’s title game.
(2) Stoughton vs. (2) Westosha Central
You can take your pick in a couple of different ways as the Badger South is likely to face the Southern Lakes with a trip to state on the line. Stoughton is looking to get over the hump. The Vikings have lost close battles to Brown Deer, Beaver Dam, Kettle Moraine, and La Crosse Central. Led by one of the top sleepers in the state, Jaeden Zackery, Westosha Central can claim a share of the Southern Lakes Conference title if they can defeat Union Grove on Thursday.
(2) Whitnall vs. (1) Milwaukee Washington
This would pit the top ranked player in 2018 against the top ranked player in 2019. Kentucky commit Tyler Herro has led Whitnall to a sizable turnaround this season while putting up jaw dropping numbers along the way. Points would definitely not be at a premium with Deontay Long taking the floor for Washington. The Purgolders also feature 2021 center Michael Foster, who’s committed to Arizona State.
MOST UNPREDICTABLE SECTIONAL
The Woodland, Milwaukee City, and North Shore flavor makes this a sectional up for grabs.
At the top of the bracket, (1)Pewaukee and (2)Whitnall look primed to face in the sectional semifinals, but (3) New Berlin Eisenhower, (4) Greendale, and (5) New Berlin West aren’t going to be cake walks along the way and are more than capable of upsets.
(1)Milwaukee Washington has the easier path at the bottom of the sectional, but (2) Milwaukee Lutheran, despite a 12-8 record has lost four of those games by five points or less. (3)Whitefish Bay is streaking as well and playing their best ball at the right time.
There’s probably 3-4 teams that can win this sectional, but there’s definitely a higher upset probability than most.
It’s easy to be hesitant with La Crosse Central, who lost so much off that state championship team last season, but the Red Raiders made a big statement against Onalaska. Avenging a loss from earlier in the season, the Red Raiders handled their Mississippi Valley rivals 66-51 last week. This team is young, led by sophomores Johnny Davis, Jordan Davis, and Terrance Thompson, but 2019 point guard Noah Parcher has had a breakout season and helped overcome the losses of Bailey Kale and Kobe King, providing a veteran presence. This sectional very well could be decided between Central and Onalaska in the semifinals, however.
Kaukauna remains the overall favorite in Division 2. This team has state championship experience from two years ago, including West Virginia commit Jordan McCabe, could be Mr. Basketball in 2017-18. The only teams within the state two beat the Ghosts this season, Oshkosh North and Kimberly, are a combined 37-5 and both in Division 1.
Stoughton, when healthy and fully equipped, they’re not taking a back seat to anybody in this sectional. The Vikings already defeated top seed Monona Grove head-to-head and are one of the best defensive units in the state. The trio of Brady Schipper, Max Fernholz, and Tommy McClain is pretty underrated in the Madison area. This team is also tested against some of the best in the state and more than held their own.
The way Wright State commit Grant Basile and Pewaukee are playing can’t go unnoticed and Kentucky commit Tyler Herro is capable of putting Whitnall on his back all the way to Madison, but it’s hard to go against a team with as much talent as Milwaukee Washington. Deontay Long and Michael Foster are a lot to handle. Senior point guard Jordan Dinsmore has also been one of the most pleasant surprises in the state and has helped bring this team together. Washington also only has one loss to a team within the state all season, falling by one to Brown Deer in the season opener after squandering a double digit lead late.