Posted On: 03/7/18 3:00 PM
The WIAA Division 2 State Tournament resumes on Thursday. Here’s a breakdown of the remaining eight matchups in the field.
#1 La Crosse Central (22-2) vs. #2 Onalaska (20-3) at Menomonie
This is the big one. It feels like the winner here moves onto state, although neither school can certainly look ahead past their next opponents.
La Crosse Central dropped the first meeting, but rallied to win the Mississippi Valley Conference. The Red Raiders were able to salvage a split in the regular season series with a statement 66-51 victory over Onalaska on Feb. 16. Despite losing their top two scorers from a year ago, Central has rebounded thanks to the core of Noah Parcher, Jordan Davis, Terrance Thompson, and Jonathan Davis.
Over the past few seasons, Onalaska has been closing the gap between, not only themselves and Central, but the top contenders in Division 2. After a few strong runs, will this be the year the Hilltoppers finally get over the hump and surge through to state?
#2 Merrill (16-8) vs. #5 Marshfield (13-11) at Wausau East
These Wisconsin Valley Conference rivals will meet for a third time.
Finishing second, Marshfield is getting 22.2 ppg from senior Seth Anderson. Junior Reed Miller (11.8 ppg) is also an intriguing prospect and on the radar of Division 1 and 2 programs. The Tigers have the psychological edge going into Thursday, sweeping the regular season series, including an 84-63 thumping back on Dec. 19.
Merrill features the 1-2 punch of Zach Mootz (17.9 ppg) and Quinn Steckbauer (17.4 ppg).
#1 Kaukauna (21-3) vs. #2 Pulaski (19-4) at Green Bay Preble
Kaukauna remains the favorite to win the gold ball. West Virginia commit Jordan McCabe (26.9 ppg) is a favorite to win Mr. Basketball, but he’s also getting significant help this season from Michigan Tech commit Eric Carl (12.2 ppg) and Clarke commit Dylan Kurey (13.7 ppg). The Ghosts have rolled through the tournament thus far, winning their first two games by an average of 39.5 ppg.
Like Kaukauna, Pulaski went through a gauntlet during the conference season, finishing second in the Fox River Classic. Of their four losses, three have come by one possession.
#3 Nicolet (15-9) vs. #Plymouth (16-8) at Sheboygan South
Both teams pulled upsets last week. Nicolet upended 2-seed Beaver Dam 79-72, while Plymouth shocked top seed Cedarbug 73-65.
The Knights finished second in the always competitive North Shore Conference. 2020 forward Jamari Sibley (16.7 ppg) is one of the toughest matchups in the state.
Plymouth’s victory over Cedarburg seemingly came out of nowhere. The Panthers barely survived against 5-seed Slinger to open the tournament. We’ll see if they can keep this magical run going.
#1 Monona Grove (23-1) vs. #2 Stoughton (16-8) at Sun Prairie
Monona Grove defeated Stoughton late in the season to win the Badger South Conference title. Can the Vikings get revenge in the sectional semifinal? The Silver Eagles lost just one game all season, but that was against Stoughton back on Jan. 12.
Jake Schroeckenthaler is averaging close to 20 points per game for MG this season. However, it’s been fellow senior Jimmy Thome, who’s giving Stoughton the most problems, averaging 16.0 ppg against the Vikings, up from his season average of 7.8 ppg.
Don’t sleep on a potential upset. Despite eight losses, Stoughton has hung with the likes of La Crosse Central and Brown Deer. However, the Vikings have been playing with fire in March, winning their first two playoff games by way of late baskets.
#2 Westosha Central (20-4) vs. #Elkhorn (17-7) at Burlington
Jaeden Zackery (17.1 ppg) is one of the more under-appreciated players in the state. He’s guided Westosha Central to wins in eight of their last nine games. The Falcons won both of their playoff games by 11 points to reach sectionals.
Elkhorn is hot as well. The Elks have won 10 of their last 11, including two double-digit victories in the playoffs.
These two teams met twice already. Westosha Central won 59-42 on Dec. 8, but Elkhorn returned the favor with a 60-57 victory on Jan. 30.
#1 Pewaukee (22-2) vs. #2 Whitnall (20-4) at New Berlin West
If the last three meetings are any indication, this could be the marquee game across the state. In the Woodland Crossover that took place last month, Whitnall hung on for a 75-72 road win thanks to 39 points from Kentucky commit Tyler Herro. These two teams also met last season, with Pewaukee edging the Falcons 62-58. In the 2015-16 regional final, it was Whitnall that advanced.
Wright State commit Grant Basile (24.4 ppg) is having a fantastic season. His sidekick, Hillsdale commit Jack Gohlke (16.9 ppg) also helped guide the Pirates to a Woodland West championship and 10 wins in their last 11 games.
The Woodland East champs, Whitnall has come out victorious in 12 of their last 13 outings. They’ll go as far as Herro (33.3 ppg) takes them.
#1 Milwaukee Washington (21-3) vs. #7 Pius XI (10-15) at Milwaukee Vincent
Washington is loaded. The Purgolders have suffered only one loss to a team from inside the border all season. Deontay Long (29.7 ppg) and Washington made it to the Kohl Center last season, but now have more ammo in the forms of Arizona State commit Michael Foster (18.7 ppg) and Jordan Dinsmore (12.5 ppg).
Pius XI has been the Cinderella story of the tournament thus far. Having already won three games, including two upsets, the Popes knocked off 2-seed Milwaukee Lutheran and 6-seed Wauwatosa West to reach sectionals. Preston Maccoux (15.0 ppg) and Bilal Shabazz (14.5 ppg) are two versatile prospects that could pose problems in this matchup.