WIAA Boys Basketball Preview
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- After laboring in obscurity for years, Germantown finally made it past high-profile Milwaukee Vincent in the sectional playoffs to advance to its first-ever WIAA state tournament.
Careful what you wish for, Warhawks: Their reward is a game with two-time defending state champion Oshkosh West.
"For our first time there ever, it's kind of a tough draw, drawing a back-to-back state champion," Germantown coach Steve Showalter said. "But we talk about it all the time -- if we want to say we're the best team, we have to try to beat the best, and right now Oshkosh West is the best until somebody knocks them off."
Germantown (22-1) faces Oshkosh West (17-7) in the Division 1 quarterfinals Thursday at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Other Division 1 quarterfinal games Thursday include Madison Memorial (21-2) against Lake Geneva Badger (18-5); Bay Port (21-2) facing Brookfield Central (18-4); and Eau Claire North (18-4) meeting Wauwatosa East (23-1).
In Division 3 games Thursday, Eau Claire Regis (21-3) faces Iola-Scandinavia (23-2) and La Crosse Aquinas (22-3) squares off against Whitefish Bay Dominican (24-1).
On Friday, defending champion Monroe (23-2) faces New Berlin Eisenhower (21-4) and Adams-Friendship (17-8) meets Plymouth (22-3) in the Division 2 semifinals. In Division 4, defending champion Randolph (24-1) faces Eleva-Strum (25-0) and Luck (23-2) squares off with Suring (25-0).
All four championships are Saturday.
DIVISION 1: Two-time defending champion Oshkosh West makes its third straight appearance and the fourth overall in the state tournament.
But coach Brad Clark said not many people expected the Wildcats to be in position to win three straight after losing several experienced players.
"I don't think anybody in the whole state or the whole city of Oshkosh expected us to be where we're at right now with these young guys -- except for themselves, and myself," Clark said.
But Clark said his young team earned confidence with several comeback victories.
"People get their money's worth when they come watch us," Clark said. "You never leave the gym until it shows zeros on the clock."
They face Germantown, making its first state tournament appearance after edging Milwaukee Vincent 60-59 in the final of the sectional Germantown hosted.
"For 15 years, off and on pretty much every year it's been Milwaukee Vincent, and I don't think anyone in the state even knows there are other teams in our sectional," Showalter said. "And I've told other coaches, I've told friends and family that we do a pretty good job here, and we're working so hard to get to that level, but no one might ever hear of us and no one might ever know about us because Vincent's that good."
Madison Memorial is back for its fifth consecutive and fifth overall appearance. The Spartans won the state title in 2005 and followed that with a runner-up finish in 2006.
The Spartans are young -- they start two sophomores -- but coach Steve Collins said he can count on forward Jeronne Maymon, who stepped up to lead after star player Keaton Nankivil left to play college ball at the University of Wisconsin.
"Jaronne knew that this was kind of really Keaton's team the past couple years," Collins said. "He takes his role seriously, but he knew what his role truly was."
Madison Memorial will face Badger, a team that lives on 3-pointers.
"It's going to be an interesting matchup for us as far as how we can do what we want to do and still stop all those 3 attempts," Collin said. "It's going to be a little different."
Badger coach Forrest Larson says his game plan is no secret. The Badgers hoisted a whopping 440 3-point attempts this season.
"It's all good when it's going in like it has the last couple nights," Larson said. "But if we're 5-for-31 against Janesville Craig instead of 15-for-31, we're not having this conversation right now."
Badger made the state tournament for the third time in school history and for the first time since 1999.
Wauwatosa East is making its 16th State appearance -- but its first since 2002. The Red Raiders were the Class A champions in 1989 and were runners-up in 1991.
Coach Tim Arndorfer will be relying on his team's experience.
"I'd like to think we're one of the deeper teams in the state," Arndorfer said. "I think that's been a benefit for us all year."
The Red Raiders will face a unique challenge in Eau Claire North's 6-11 center, Evan Anderson. Arndorfer isn't quite sure how to simulate that in practice -- "I don't think we can put anyone on stilts," he quipped -- but said his players' perimeter quickness could neutralize Eau Claire North's size.
"We've played against height before, and I like the matchup," Arndorfer said. "I don't know how those guys guard us on the wings."
Eau Claire North is making its sixth State appearance and its first since 1992, when the Huskies advanced to the semifinals.
Brookfield Central returns to the state tournament for the third time in the last four years and for the ninth time overall, including seven of the last nine years.
Lancers coach Mark Adams doesn't want his players peeking ahead -- but they could end up meeting rival Wauwatosa East later in the tournament.
"I just sort of smiled, because that's developed into just a real competitive rivalry because we're five minutes away from each other," Adams said.
The Lancers pride themselves on defense, and will face a Bay Port team making its first appearance in the state tournament.
The Pirates' star player is senior forward Cole Meyer, who is being recruited by college programs.
"I think he's a pretty good secret for the people who are recruiting him, because I think he's a very good basketball player -- which I think the rest of the state will get a chance to see on Thursday night, for sure," Bay Port coach Nate Rykal said.
DIVISION 2: Defending champion Monroe makes its 13th trip to the state tournament and the third in the last four years.
The Cheesemakers won one other state championship -- in 1965, when there was a single division of competition. They also finished runner-up in Division 2 in 1991.
The Cheesemakers are the champions of the Badger Conference and advanced out of the Sun Prairie Sectional by edging East Troy by the slimmest margin in the final, 54-53.
They'll face New Berlin Eisenhower, which is participating in its second state tournament. The school's only other appearance came in 1981, when the Lions fell in the Class A quarterfinals. They finished first in the Woodland Conference this year and earned their return to the tournament by defeating Brown Deer 52-49 in the Germantown Sectional final.
Adams-Friendship is making its fifth trip to State and first since 2002. The Green Devils' made four appearances during a seven-year stretch from 1996-2002.
Their best finish during that span was a runner-up performance in 1999. They defeated Spooner 35-34 in the Durand Sectional final to earn their return. They are the co-champions in the South Central Conference this year.
Plymouth is making its first appearance since 1990 and its third overall. The Panthers advanced to the Class A semifinals in 1981 and were eliminated in the Division 2 semifinals in 1990. They won the Eastern Wisconsin Conference title this year and defeated Valders 71-54 in the Green Bay Southwest Sectional final to join the tournament field.
DIVISION 3: Last year's runner-up, Aquinas, returns to the state tournament for the second straight year and for the third time overall. The Blugolds' first experience in the tournament resulted in the Division 2 championship in 2003.
In the old WISAA tournament, the Blugolds won titles in 1941, 1946, 1949, 1950 and finished runner-up on two other occasions. They finished runner-up in the Mississippi Valley Conference and advance to State with a 64-35 win over Cuba City in the Baraboo Sectional final.
They'll face Dominican, which qualified for the state tournament for the third time ever and for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.
Prior to becoming part of the WIAA, the Knights won WISAA championships in 1974, 1978, 1979, 1991, 1997, 1998 and 2000. They also had a runner-up finish in 1999. Dominican won the Midwest Classic Conference title this season and advanced to the state tournament with a 59-37 win over three-time defending champion Racine St. Catherine's in the West Allis Central Sectional final.
Regis is appearing in its second consecutive state tournament, its only two appearances in the state tournament.
The Ramblers earned their berth with a 52-46 victory over Webster in the Eau Claire North Sectional final after winning the title in the West Division of the Cloverbelt Conference this season. While a member of WISAA, the Ramblers won championships in 1947, 1948 and in 1952, and finished as runner-up in 1954, 1962, 1995 and 1997.
Iola-Scandinavia will make its third appearance in the state tournament and its first since 1985. The Thunderbirds' first State experience came in 1934, when the school was known as Iola. The Thunderbirds are the champions of the Small Division of the Central Wisconsin Conference. They defeated Roncalli, a State qualifier the last three years, 67-64 in the final of the Ashwaubenon Sectional.
DIVISION 4: The Division 4 field features a pair of undefeated teams and a rematch of last year's title game in a quarterfinal match-up between Randolph and Eleva-Strum.
Defending champion Randolph returns to State for the 12th time. The Rockets won four straight titles from 2002-05 to go with titles in 1996 and 1998. The seven titles are tied for the most of any member school. They added a runner-up finish in 1997. The Rockets are the champions of the Trailways Conference. They defeated Benton 49-47 in the Fort Atkinson Sectional final to earn a return trip to the Kohl Center.
Last year's runner-up, Eleva-Strum, makes it back to the tournament field for the third year in a row and for the fifth time overall. In addition to last year's outcome, the Cardinals were the Class C runner-up in 1990. They are the champions of the Dairyland Conference. The Cardinals advanced their way through the Onalaska Sectional, climaxed by a 43-26 win over Seneca in the final.
Suring is making its second straight appearance after qualifying for the first time last year. The Eagles return engagement comes by virtue of their 59-38 victory over Columbus Catholic in the Appleton North Sectional final. They are the champions of the Marinette-Oconto Conference.
Luck's only other state tournament appearance came in 1973, which resulted in a runner-up finish in Class B. The Cardinals are the co-champions of the Lakeland Conference this year, and they advanced to State through the Spooner Sectional following a 45-31 win over Mellen in the final.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)