It has been 11 years since an area boys basketball team qualified for the WIAA state tournament.
Lake Geneva Badger made the trip back in 2008, losing a state quarterfinal game.
Will the drought end in 2019?
Probably not, but a couple of area teams could make a bid.
In Division 1, the Waunakee Sectional appears to be wide open with a number of Big Eight schools in the mix as possible state qualifiers.
Big Eight champion and top-ranked Madison East is the favorite, but the Purgolders will be pushed by the likes of second-seeded Racine Park, third-seeded Madison La Follette and fourth-seeded Sun Prairie.
Janesville Craig is the 11th seed but played East tough in a recent six-point loss and also split with La Follette during the regular season.
“We like our draw,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “Realistically, we could play two teams we’ve already beaten our first two games of the tournament.
“I think it just shows you how competitive our conference is. There are a number of teams capable of winning our sectional. It’s going to depend on who gets hot at the right time.”
East is long and athletic, but I like Sun Prairie to earn a trip to the Kohl Center.
The Division 3 Evansville Sectional is loaded. Three of the top four ranked teams in the state are in the bottom half of the bracket, including top-ranked Martin Luther. Racine St. Catherine’s and Saint John’s Military Academy are ranked third and fourth, respectively.
Edgerton, Beloit Turner or Evansville could make a splash in the upper portion of that bracket—especially Turner with the return of Dai’Vontrelle Strong—and make a run to the sectional title game. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of them could overcome the talent of Martin Luther. Look for the Spartans to win the sectional title and keep the area drought intact.
The area’s top and most consistent team this season was Elkhorn. The Elks find themselves in the Division 2 Elkhorn Sectional where Rock Valley champion and seventh-ranked East Troy likely looms in a regional final Saturday night. The Trojans advanced to the Division 3 state tournament a year ago but WAS bumped up to Division 2 this season.
East Troy’s AJ Vukovich is the best player I’ve seen all season, but I don’t think he’s enough to get the Trojans back to state. I like Mount Horeb to come out of this sectional.
In Division 4, Orfordville Parkview had a great season, but playing in a weak conference will likely cost the Vikings a chance to advance to state. Parkview garnered a No. 1 seed in the Middleton Sectional, but I’ve got to believe Darlington, New Glarus and Mineral Point are better than the Vikings and loom large in the upper portion of the bracket. I like the Pointers of Mineral Point to advance to state.
Here’s a look at three area tournament games on tap for the next two nights:
Milton (10-13) vs. Waterford (19-4), girls, Division 2 sectional semifinal, 7 p.m., today, Elkhorn High School—The winner likely plays eighth-ranked Monroe in a sectional final game Saturday afternoon in Oregon.
Milton defeated Waterford 69-53 during the regular season in a nonconference game.
Waterford has been on a roll since losing to Milton. The Wolverines have won 12 of their last 13 games en route to a Southern Lakes Conference title.
Katie Rohner was one of the top players in the Southern Lakes. The junior led the conference in scoring at 17.4 points per game.
“We have to keep up the intensity on defense, especially with their good guard,” Milton coach Stacy Skemp said of Rohner. “We rattled them with our defense when we played them back in December, and we’re going to need to do the same Thursday night.”
Milton rolled to wins in its first two tournament games. The Red Hawks are averaging 54.43 points per game.
Chloe Buescher leads a balanced scoring attack for Milton. The senior is averaging 14.7 points a game.
“I think more than anything, everybody has settled into their roles on the team,” Skemp said of the postseason success. “We don’t have to rely on just one or two players on the offensive end.”
Best guess: Waterford 64, Milton 57
Janesville Craig (10-12) at Middleton (13-9), boys, Division 1 regional semifinal, 7 p.m., Friday, Middleton High School—The teams split during the regular season, with each team winning on its home court. The winner likely plays at Madison La Follette for the regional title Saturday night.
Inconsistency has plagued Middleton all season. The Cardinals are 5-5 in their last 10 games.
Sam Close leads Middleton in scoring at 11.5 points per game, but Jake Klubertanz, Jack Boyle and Chandon Thomas are all averaging eight points or more.
“They’re big, so we’re going to have to do a better job of rebounding against them than we did the first two times we played them,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “And they shoot the 3 pretty well, so we’ll have to get through screens and not give them uncontested looks.”
The Cougars come into the postseason on a three-game losing streak, but all three losses were closely contested.
Much like Middleton, Craig has been very inconsistent all season. The Cougars haven’t put together a sustained winning streak but have also avoided any prolonged losing streaks before closing the regular season on a three-game skid.
Jack Huml and Aaron Leverson continue to lead the Cougars in scoring, averaging a combined 30.3 points a game. Craig is averaging 66.6 points a game.
Best guess: Middleton 56, Craig 52
Evansville (15-8) at Edgerton (14-8), boys, Division 3 regional semifinal, 7 p.m., Friday, Edgerton High School—The teams split Rock Valley Conference games during the regular season. The winner likely travels to play top-seeded Prairie du Chien on Saturday night.
Evansville has won six of its last seven games, with the only loss by one point to seventh-ranked and Rock Valley Conference champion East Troy.
The Blue Devils are averaging 64 points a game. Junior forward Sulley Geske leads the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game, with point guard Davonte McAlister right behind at 15.3. McAlister did not play in Evansville’s tournament-opening victory Tuesday night, and Blue Devils head coach Kendall Buttchen said he could not comment on the situation or McAlister’s availability moving forward.
Edgerton has been getting it done on the defensive end. The Crimson Tide allow only 51.8 points per game.
Clayton Jenny (11.6) and Kyle Wille (10.6) both average double digits in scoring for Edgerton.
Best guess: Edgerton 64, Evansville 55.