The culture is changing at Orfordville Parkview High School.
Winning has suddenly become contagious.
It started last spring on the softball diamond when the Vikings piled up 15 wins and finished third in the Trailways South Conference. The good fortune has continued on the hardwood.
Parkview’s girls basketball team won the Trailways South title this season, while the boys team finished second and won a regional title for the first time since 1966.
Last Saturday’s regional title hit close to home for me. My father, Dale Barry, was the was the head coach of that ’66 team.
Current boys coach Mike Striegl said the postseason success is no fluke.
“These guys have been playing together for a long time and have had success at all levels they’ve played at,” Striegl said. “One of our goals was to do exactly what we’ve done, and that’s win a regional title.
“We’re really trying to push toward a positive, championship-style culture here at Parkview, but you can’t get to that point without having that mindset to start with. I’ve seen big strides toward that in my three years here.”
Parkview started the season 0-2 but has won 17 of its last 21 games.
“These guys hang out together on and off the court, but sometimes that can create problems because egos get in the way,” Striegl said. “It took us four or five games, but once everybody figured out what their role was going to be on the team, things started coming together for us.
“We’ve been preaching for three years what it’s going to take to be a successful program, and I think they all realize and understand that now.”
The Vikings are now two victories away from their first-ever trip to the state tournament. Beloit Turner finds itself in that same boat, while Edgerton and Elkhorn are looking to end long droughts.
Here’s a look at the three sectional semifinal games Thursday involving four area teams still alive in their WIAA brackets:
- Beloit Turner (16-7) vs. Edgerton (16-8), boys, Division 3, 7 p.m., Thursday, Janesville Craig High School—The teams meet for the third time this season, with the Crimson Tide winning the two regular-season Rock Valley Conference games. The winner advances to Saturday’s sectional final at Evansville against the winner of Martin Luther vs. Racine St. Catherine’s.
Turner comes in on a roll. The Trojans have won eight of their last nine games, with the only loss to Rock Valley champion East Troy.
Turner has been sparked by the return of Dai’Vontrelle Strong, who missed the first 16 games because of an athletic code violation. The 6-foot-6 junior center averaged 14.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last season in earning first-team all-conference honors.
“Strong didn’t play the first two times we saw Turner this season,” Edgerton coach Daryl Fox said. “He’s a difference-maker because of his size and athleticism.
“He makes them a complete team, because now they’re able to pound it inside or, with the great shooters they have, hurt you from the outside.”
Jordan Majeed leads the Trojans in scoring at 17.8 points per game, while senior sharpshooter Steve Dillard is averaging 13.5. Dillard has 58 3-pointers on the season.
Edgerton has been getting it done on the defensive end. The Crimson Tide are allowing less than 50 points a game. Seven different players have led the team in scoring at some point this season.
“It makes it hard for teams to try and take something away from us (offensively) because we’ve been so balanced all year,” Fox said. “Most teams probably have one or two guys capable of carrying the load, but we’ve got a lot of options.
“However, the key to our success this season has been our defense. It has really been suffocating, especially in the tournament.
“We beat Turner the first two times because we made a couple of more plays down the stretch. I expect another close game Thursday.”
Clayton Jenny and Kyle Wille are both averaging 11.2 points per game to lead Edgerton.
Best guess: Turner 64, Edgerton 59
- Belleville (11-11) vs. Orfordville Parkview (17-6), boys, Division 4, 7 p.m., Thursday, Evansville High School—The Wildcats beat the Vikings by 18 in a nonconference game earlier this season. The winner advances to Saturday’s sectional final at Middleton against the winner of New Glarus vs. Fennimore.
Belleville finished tied for fourth in the Capitol South Conference. Royce Clark leads the team in scoring at 14.5 points a game, with Austin Fahey averaging 11.2.
“They shot the ball really well against us when we played them the first time,” Striegl said. “And their length gave us a little trouble, too.
“But we’re not the same team we were when we played them the first time, either. We’ve found our identity and are playing pretty well right now.”
The Vikings are averaging 66.7 points per game and have won seven of their last eight games.
Eli Hoscheit, Aydon Campbell, Justin Balch and Adrian Meza are all averaging at least 10 points.
“The key for us during this good stretch that we’ve had is that the night after we lost our chance for a conference championship by losing to Palmyra-Eagle, we bounced back and played well in beating Williams Bay,” Striegl said. “The kids weren’t feeling sorry for themselves.
“Obviously, you want to be playing your best basketball at this time of the season, and we are. We’re playing very unselfish as a team. It hasn’t mattered who has the most points.”
Best guess: Parkview 72, Belleville 61
- Westosha Central (23-1) vs. Elkhorn (21-3), boys, Division 2, 7 p.m., Thursday, Burlington High School—The fifth-ranked and Southern Lakes-champion Falcons swept the Elks during the regular season. The winner advances to Saturday’s sectional final at Elkhorn against the winner of the Mount Horeb vs. DeForest game. (Note: The game would be moved if Elkhorn advances.)
Westosha was the Southern Lakes’ best team and has the best player in Jaeden Zackery. The senior led the conference in scoring at 22 points per game.
The Falcons—who won the regular-season meetings 54-44 and 66-52—beat the Elks in a sectional semifinal game last year, as well.
“It’s kind of funny how we’re returning to the scene of the crime,” Elkhorn coach Josh Skatrud said of playing at Burlington in a sectional semifinal game for the second year in a row. “We had a 25-12 lead at halftime last year, but we let it slip away the second half.
“They’re a very good team, and Zackery is one of the best players in the state.”
Luke Umnus, Nick Brown and Vince Umnus all average in double figures scoring for the Elks.
“The key for us is that we’ve got to be the aggressor and take it to them,” said Skatrud, whose team’s only other loss all season was to DeForest. “We can’t sit back.
“We also can’t get caught up in the moment, which I don’t think we will with the playoff experience that a lot of our guys have between basketball and soccer.”
Best guess: Westosha 67, Elkhorn 60
John Barry is a sports writer for The Gazette. Reach him at email@example.com.