WIAA girls basketball tournaments starting; boys in sectionals on Thursday

WIAA girls basketball tournaments get started all around Wisconsin with the opening round of regional playoffs on Tuesday.
While the girls’ tournaments are starting, the WIAA boys basketball tournaments have advanced to the sectional level.
Here are previews of the area basketball playoffs, beginning with the girls.

Girls basketball
Division 1
Chippewa Falls looks to be a heavy favorite to represent this area in the sectional tournament. The Cards went 21-1 this season while rolling to the Big Rivers Conference championship.

Division 2
This region covers a massive territory, with the top seeds going to La Crosse Logan and Hayward. Logan went 18-4 in winning the Mississippi Valley Conference. Hayward’s string of Heart O’North Conference championships was snapped this season by Ladysmith. Holmen and Rice Lake are teams that have the talent to make their way to the sectional tournament.

Division 3
Barron and Bloomer, which tied for third place in the Heart O’North Conference, drew the top seeds in the northern sectional from western Wisconsin. While these are traditionally strong programs, they aren’t locks to get to the regional title game. St. Croix Falls and Somerset are teams that could push their way into the finals.
In the southern sectional from the area, Westby brings a 21-1 record in as the top seed. Westby won the Coulee Conference with a 12-0 record. La Crosse Aquinas is the second seed, while Middle Border Conference co-champ Durand gets the third seed.

Division 4
Both western Wisconsin Division 4 regional brackets are top-heavy with outstanding teams. In the northern bracket, Ladysmith earned the top seed with a 21-1 season. But with Cameron, Boyceville and Hurley in this bracket, there is no guarantee that Ladysmith will be the sectional representative.
Eau Claire Regis is the defending state champion and the 20-2 Ramblers are the favorite to reach the sectionals again this year. That’s not a guarantee either, with Dunn-St. Croix Conference champion Colfax lurking in the other half of the bracket.

Division 5
With no Division 5 teams in the immediate area, we’ll give a cursory look at the western Wisconsin brackets. Northwoods and Winter received the top seeds in the northern sectional bracket, while Owen-Withee and Lake Holcombe are the top seeds in the southern bracket for western Wisconsin.

Boys basketball
Division 2
To nobody’s surprise, Rice Lake and Onalaska will clash in the Division 2 sectional semifinal. These two highly-ranked teams have been on a collision course all season. Both teams bring 23-1 records into Thursday’s semifinal, which will be played at Eau Claire Memorial. In the other half of the sectional bracket, Antigo will face Rhinelander at Wausau West.

Division 3
Somerset (16-8) will face one of the biggest surprises in the state when the Spartans face Northwestern in the sectional semifinal at New Richmond on Thursday. Somerset was the second seed in the half-sectional and the Spartans took care of Barron, the third seed on Saturday. Northwestern pulled off two upsets to get into the sectionals. On Friday, Northwestern, the eighth seed, knocked off top seed Bloomer, 33-29. In Saturday’s regional final, Northwestern rolled past the fourth seed, Spooner, 60-41.
Prescott will face Gale-Ettrick-Trempeleau in the other sectional semifinal, at Osseo-Fairchild on Thursday. Prescott, the third seed, outgunned Westby, the second seed, 58-50, to advance on Saturday. G-E-T barely escaped an upset Saturday. Fourth seed Arcadia led G-E-T for most of the game, but G-E-T scored in the final two seconds to pull out a 53-51 victory.

Division 4
Neither top seed made it to the sectional tournament in Division 4. Grantsburg was the top seed in the northern half of the sectional bracket, but the Pirates were sunk by Boyceville in the regional final, 58-46. Boyceville is the fifth seed in the bracket.
Boyceville will face Chequamegon in the sectional semifinal. Chequamegon needed overtime to defeat Hurley in the regional final, 57-46. Boyceville and Chequamegon will play in the sectional semifinal at Rice Lake on Thursday.
In the southern half of the bracket, Colfax will battle Fall Creek in the sectional semifinal, which will be played at Altoona on Thursday. Colfax ran its record to 22-2 with a narrow 50-48 win over Colby in Saturday’s regional title game. Fall Creek (16-8) upended top-seeded Elk Mound 54-46 to advance into Thursday’s sectional final.

Division 5
Undefeated Siren escaped Friday’s regional semifinal against Luck with a one-point overtime win. The Dragons weren’t so fortunate on Saturday. Frederic delivered Siren’s first defeat, slaying the Dragons 53-46. That moves Frederic into Thursday’s sectional semifinal at Hayward. The Vikings will be facing Drummond, which defeated Solon Springs 51-39 in Saturday’s regional final.
Two other Division 5 powers will meet in the other sectional semifinal. Clayton (23-1) will battle Prentice (24-1) in the sectional semifinal game in Abbotsford. Clayton advanced with a 56-35 win over Columbus Catholic. Prentice advanced with an 83-53 win over New Auburn.
All sectional semifinal games are scheduled to be played at 7 p.m. on Thursday.