01STOCK_BASKETBALL

The road to the Resch Center begins Tuesday for a number of area girls basketball teams.

Others, including Janesville Craig, won’t begin WIAA postseason play until Friday, Feb. 22.

Whitewater is the last area school to advance to the state tournament. The Whippets won the Division 3 state title in 2015.

Three-time Division 1 state champion Janesville Parker has not been to state since 2006, while Craig is looking for its first state appearance.

Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said at this point of the season, with the tournament on the horizon, one thing matters more than anything else.

“You’ve got to be playing with confidence,” Storbakken said. “What happened during the regular season really doesn’t matter nor do records. It’s about believing in yourself and your teammates.

“We play in a very good conference and played a very tough schedule, and our girls know that we can play with any team in our sectional. We’ve proven that.”

Craig is the No. 11 seed in the D1 Craig Sectional. The Cougars play a regional semifinal game at sixth-seeded Lake Geneva Badger to open tournament play. Craig beat Badger by 13 in a regular-season nonconference game in December.

If Craig wins, it would likely play at Madison Memorial on Saturday, Feb. 23. The Cougars lost to the Spartans in overtime and finish the regular season at Memorial on Saturday night.

Sun Prairie is the top seed in the Craig Sectional. The Cardinals swept the season series against Craig, but the first game went into overtime.

“I think when you look at our sectional, anyone seeded 1-12 probably feels like they have a chance to get to state,” Storbakken said. “That’s how wide open the sectional is.

“We got the 11 seed but could easily be a top-five seed if a couple of close games we lost go the other way.”

If the Cougars do advance to a sectional final game, they could not host. The game would have to be played at a neutral site.

Although I wouldn’t be surprised if Craig made a little postseason run, I expect a deep and talented Middleton team with longtime coach Jeff Kind to win the sectional title.

In Division 3, the Edgewood Sectional is loaded. Three of the top six rated teams are in the field, led by second-ranked Marshall. The Cardinals are the defending D3 state champion.

Evansville is the six seed in the sectional and opens at home Tuesday against River Valley. The Blue Devils would likely play at third-seeded Lodi in a regional semifinal game Friday, Feb. 22.

“Our biggest thing heading into the tournament is to be healthy,” Evansville coach Tina Aasen said. “When everybody is healthy and able to contribute, we’ve got six or seven girls that are capable of scoring five, six, seven points a game.

“And we’ve really picked it up on the defensive end. That’s important come tournament time, because good defense can create good things on the offensive end.”

Whitewater is the eighth seed and opens Tuesday at home against Thomas More. Top-seeded Shoreland Lutheran is the likely regional semifinal opponent for the Whippets.

When all is said and done, look for Marshall to make the trek to the Resch Center. The Cardinals’ only two losses were to Aquinas—the top-ranked team in Division 2—and Division 1 Stevens Point.

Despite a 3-10 Badger South Conference record, Milton has a legitimate chance of advancing to the championship game of the Division 2 McFarland Sectional.

The Red Hawks were sent east for the tournament and are a three seed in the bottom portion of the bracket. Milton already beat Waterford, which is the No. 1 seed, and was scheduled to play second-seeded Wilmot on Tuesday before Mother Nature interrupted those plans.

Monona Grove, with University of Iowa recruit McKenna Warnock, is the top seed in the upper half of the McFarland Sectional. Monroe, with University of Wisconsin recruit Sydney Hilliard, is seeded second. The Cheesemakers are my pick to advance to state.

Brodhead is the top area seed in Division 4 with a three seed in the bottom half of the Richland Center Sectional, but top-ranked Aquinas lurks at the top of the sectional bracket. Look for the Blugolds to coast to the sectional title.

Here’s a look at three area games as we wrap up the regular season for the girls and head into the homestretch for the boys:

Orfordville Parkview (11-5, 7-1) at Palmyra-Eagle (14-3, 8-0), boys, Trailways South, 7:15 p.m., today, Palmyra-Eagle High School—The top two teams in the Trailways South play twice in the last 10 days of the regular season to decide the conference champion.

The defending co-champion Panthers are unbeaten in the conference thus far. Revin Schneider and Morgan Carpenter are averaging a combined 27.8 points per game.

Parkview has won seven of its last eight and avenged its only conference loss Monday night with a 59-55 win over Deerfield. Eli Hoscheit, Aydon Campbell and Justin Balch are all averaging better than 14 points a game for the Vikings.

Best guess: Palmyra-Eagle 74, Parkview 67

Evansville (12-8, 11-5) at Walworth Big Foot (10-10, 9-7), girls, Rock Valley, 7:15 p.m., today, Big Foot High School—The Blue Devils have an outside chance to tie for the conference championship, while the Chiefs can eliminate Evansville with a win.

Evansville has won eight of its last 10 games and is getting it done on the defensive end. The Blue Devils are allowing less than 40 points a game and have the conference’s third-leading scorer in Paige Banks. The junior is averaging 16.7 points per game.

Big Foot counters with the Rock Valley’s leading scorer in Reagan Courier. The junior is averaging 17.6 points per game. The Chiefs have lost five of their last seven games and were badly beaten by Evansville 67-35 in the first meeting.

Best guess: Evansville 59, Big Foot 48

Jefferson (14-5, 11-4) at Beloit Turner (11-6, 10-4), boys, Rock Valley, 7:15 p.m., today, Turner High School—The winner gains the inside track on runner-up in the Rock Valley.

Jefferson, which defeated Turner 64-61 in the first meeting this season, is led by James Monogue. The junior is averaging 16.5 points a game and is one of three players averaging in double figures.

Turner has been bolstered by the return of Dai’Vontrelle Strong. The junior and all-Rock Valley first-team selection last season missed 16 games due an athletic code violation and subsequent suspension. He scored 16 points in his first game back in a win against Whitewater.

Jordan Majeed leads the Trojans in scoring at 18.3 per game.

Best guess: Turner 73, Jefferson 66

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