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Posted On: 03/12/19 12:22 PM
MADISON, Wis. — The 2019 WIAA Division 2 state tournament kicks off on Friday. Here’s a closer look at the four teams who will make their way to the Kohl Center in search of the gold ball…
1. NICOLET (25-1)
How They Got Here
W Slinger 69-31
W Milwaukee Madison 67-55
W Port Washington 81-57
W Kaukauna 57-44
A team of stars, Nicolet met the lofty expectations leading up to the state tournament, going undefeated against in-state foes. The next step? Take home a gold ball. The Knights have been as good as advertised, winning 10 games by 30 or more points. In fact, only one in-state opponent has been able to stay within double-digits of this group.
Arguably the best prospect to come out of Wisconsin in the recruiting rankings era, Jalen Johnson is a do-it-all, transcendent talent. Averaging 19.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, Johnson is the No. 1 ranked player in the state and will push to be the top ranked prospect in the entire country this summer.
Everybody knows Jamari Sibley as a dunker and shot blocker, but what gets overlooked is his defense. Sibley is a game changer for Nicolet with his ability to switch onto guards and shut people down. His length and athleticism is a nightmare for sharpshooters or slashers who can’t get clean looks. Sibley is also good for a few steals per game in the full court press as he’ll defend the ball out of bounds and cause havoc all the way up the floor.
4. ELKHORN (23-3)
W Burlington 62-51
W East Troy 56-50
W Westosha Central 49-48
W Mount Horeb 60-58
Everyone expected Westosha Central to emerge from this sectional. As Lee Corso would say, ‘Not so fast my friend.’ Despite losing both regular season matchups to the Falcons by double-digits, the Elks shocked the state with a one-point victory in the sectional semifinals and then won another thriller against Mount Horeb two days later to advance to the state tournament.
This is a very balanced team with four players averaging in double figures, but senior guard Luke Umnus is the guy Elkhorn turns to in big moments. Umnus had the game-winning shot against Mount Horeb in the sectional finals and has elevated his play throughout March. The Wisconsin Lutheran commit is averaging nearly 13 points and 4.6 assists per game.
He’s not one of the headline names on this Elkhorn squad, but Devon Davey acts as a secondary playmaker. The junior guard is second on the team with 92 assists and 44 steals.
3. LA CROSSE CENTRAL (24-2)
W La Crosse Logan 87-37
W Holmen 75-42
W Onalaska 54-51
W Merrill 81-55
Making their fourth-straight trip to the state tournament, all La Crosse Central does is win. Despite Onalaska nipping at their heels and closing the gap, the Red Raiders survived a scare in the sectional semifinals before putting the hammer down on Merrill to book their tip to the Kohl Center.
One of the top two-way players in the state, Johnny Davis is averaging 22.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game from the guard position. Our No. 2 ranked player in the 2020 class, Davis is a tremendous slasher and plays harder than anyone else on the floor. The junior has offers from Wisconsin, UNLV, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Green Bay, and Northern Iowa.
La Crosse Central becomes a much better team when Noah Parcher is active offensively. A crafty playmaker and scorer, Parcher chips in with 11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game while playing alongside three Division 1 prospects.
2. MILWAUKEE WASHINGTON 21-5
W Messmer 94-45
W Wauwatosa West 61-59
W Milwaukee Lutheran 88-60
W Milwaukee Bay View 87-66
Back in Madison after coming up just short in the title game a season ago, Milwaukee Washington is looking to get the job done this time around. At full strength, the Purgolders have been nearly untouchable this season, with their lone loss against an in-state foe coming against D3 favorite Martin Luther.
Tre White, Deontay Long, Michael Foster…pick one. This trio might be as good as it gets in the state with each averaging above 18 points per game. All three are top two ranked prospects in their respective classes.
Teams are really going to try and pack the paint against Washington. Chianti Clay may need to hit some big shots from the outside the way Jordan Dinsmore did in last season’s state tournament. The sophomore guard is averaging 8.1 ppg this season and has scholarship offers from Wake Forest and Houston.