Local Sports

Area Boys High School Basketball Teams Prepare For State

The first WIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament was held in 1916. The Kohl Center has hosted the championships since moving from the UW Field House in 1998.

 

DIVISION 1:   Last year’s runner-up  Arrowhead is the top seed in the bracket. The Warhawks are  making their sixth State appearance overall and their second in a row. They won the title in 2010 to account for their one championship. In addition to last year’s second-place finish, the Warhawks also finished runner-up in 2017. This season, they defeated De Pere 85-80 in the final of the sectional held at Oshkosh North to earn their berth in the tourney. They are the champions in the Classic Eight Conference this season. Second-seeded Kettle Moraine qualifies for the State Tournament for the second time after making the first appearance in the program’s history last season, which resulted in a loss in the semifinals. The Lasers earned a return trip to Madison with a 56-43 win over Janesville Craig in the Elkhorn Sectional final. They were runner-up behind Arrowhead, the top seed in the bracket, in the Classic Eight Conference this winter. Marquette, the #3 seed, is making its third appearance at State and the first since 2016. The Hilltoppers advanced to the semifinals in their first experience in 2010, and then fell in the semifinals in 2016 after the Division 1 State Tournament field was narrowed to four teams. This season, they advance to the semifinals by downing West Allis Central 64-58 in the final of the Racine Horlick Sectional. The Hilltoppers are the champions of the Greater Metro Conference this year. Prior to joining the WIAA, Marquette had an illustrious history as former members of WISAA. The Hilltoppers 15 championships came in 1928, 1929, 1954, 1965, 1967, 1972, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1989, 1994 and 1999. In addition, they recorded runner-up finishes in 1931, 1949, 1950, 1958, 1963, 1976, 1990, 1991 and 1992. Fourth-seeded Neenah qualifies for the third straight season and for a membership-leading 30th time overall. The Rockets have won four championships in the school’s history. Those came in 1930, 1975, 1978 and again in 2022. In addition, they have an abundance of runner-up results, including 1920, 1939, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1988 and 2014. This season, the Rockets finished runner-up in the Fox Valley Association, and they advance to the State semifinals following a 52-48 victory over Marshfield in the Stevens Point Sectional final.

DIVISION 2:  Wisconsin Lutheran was awarded the top seed in the bracket. The Vikings are making their fourth appearance at State overall and the first since 2014. They have advanced to the championship game in each of their previous experiences. The Vikings won the title in 2014 after finishing runner-up in 2013. They also captured the crown in 2009. Wisconsin Lutheran was the champion in the West Division of the Woodland Conference this season, and the Vikings claimed a berth in the final four with an 80-59 win over Racine Park in the Burlington Sectional final. Three-time defending champion Pewaukee was issued the #2 seed in the bracket. The Pirates attempt to become just the third program to win at least four championships in a row. They are making their fourth straight appearance and their fifth overall. In addition to the championship the past three seasons, they finished runner-up in 2001. This season, the Pirates were runner-up in the West Division of the Woodland Conference behind top-seeded Wisconsin Lutheran. They continue their quest for a fourth straight title after beating Stoughton 62-49 in the Watertown Sectional final. West Salem, the runner-up in Division 3 the past two seasons, moves up to qualify this season in Division 2. The Panthers are the #3 seed. The two runner-up finishes account for both the Panthers’ previous appearances. They return to State following a 66-58 win versus River Falls in the Neillsville Sectional final. During the regular season, the Panthers won the title in the Coulee Conference. Nicolet, the fourth seed, returns to the State Tournament for the second consecutive season and for the fifth time in the program’s history. They won their one State title in 2019. The Knights defeated Ashwaubenon  56-44 in the Whitefish Bay Sectional final to return to the tourney field. They were the champions of the North Shore Conference this season.
 
DIVISION 3:  Top-seeded St. Thomas More  will be experiencing the State Tournament for the second time after falling in the semifinals in the Cavaliers’ first-ever experience playing in the tourney in 2022. They defeated Carmen Northwest 95-71 in the sectional final played at Brown Deer. The Cavaliers were the champions of the Metro Classic Conference this season. Prior to joining the WIAA, the Cavaliers won a Class A championship in 1988 and finished runner-up in 1980 and 1994 while a member of WISAA. Lakeside Lutheran, the #2 seed, returns to State for the second year in a row and for the third time overall. The Warriors have fallen in the semifinals in each of their previous two experiences. They were the runner-up in the North Division of the Capitol Conference this year behind Lake Mills. They return to the State semifinals after beating Platteville 75-71 in the Wisconsin Dells Sectional final. Third-seeded Kiel advances to the State Tournament for the third time and for the first time since 2010, which resulted in a loss in the Division 2 semifinals. The Raiders advanced to the title game in their first State experience in 1974 and finished runner-up in Class B. This season, they defeated Freedom 73-56 in the Manitowoc Lincoln Sectional to earn their trip to the Kohl Center after finishing atop the Eastern Wisconsin Conference standings this season. Prescott, the fourth seed, is back in the tournament field for the fourth time. The Cardinals first three experiences came in a four year window. They claimed the championship in 2018 after a runner-up finish in 2017. Their first-ever appearance in 2015 resulted in a loss in the semifinals. The Cardinals remain in pursuit of a second championship after their 63-48 win over Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau in the Eau Claire Memorial Sectional final. They are the champions of the Middle Border Conference this season.

DIVISION 4:  Top-seeded Marathon returns to the State Tournament for the first time since 2018 and for the ninth time overall. The Red Raiders were runner-up in that most recent appearance. The program has won four State championships through the years. Their most recent gold ball came in 2011. Additionally, they earned three straight Class C championships from 1975-77. The Red Raiders defeated Bonduel 68-61 in the D.C. Everest Sectional final to advance to the State semifinals. They are the champions in the South Division of the Marawood Conference this year.  Second-seeded Mineral Point returns to the State Tournament for the fifth time and for the first time since 2015 when the Pointers fell in the semifinals. Their most notable accomplishment in their previous experiences was a runner-up finish in Class C in 1974. They also qualified in 1934 and 1935 in Class B but were eliminated from title contention in the semifinal round and in the first round, respectively. The Pointers topped Randolph 68-57 in the final of the Portage Sectional to advance to State. They are the co-champions in the Southwest Wisconsin Activities League this season with Darlington. Third-seeded Aquinas returns to State for the eighth time and for the first time since 2016. The Blugolds have won four State titles. The most recent was the Division 3 championship in 2013. They also captured Division 3 crowns in 2008 and 2011, and a Division 2 title in 2003. The Blugolds also have two runner-up finishes on their ledger, those came in 2007 and in 2009. They placed fourth in the Mississippi Valley Conference this season, and they punched their ticket to  State by defeating Cameron 62-46 in the Eau Claire North Sectional final. As a former member of WISAA, the Blugolds won titles in 1941, 1946, 1949, 1950 and finished runner-up on two other occasions. Last year’s runner-up Kenosha St. Joseph Catholic is back in the tournament again this season as the fourth seed. The Lancers are making their fourth appearance overall. They qualified in Division 3 in 2001 and 2003, which resulted in losses in the semifinals. The Lancers rolled over Kohler 66-36 in the Oconomowoc Sectional final to qualify this season after placing fourth in the Metro Classic Conference, which was won by St. Thomas More, the #1 seed in the Division 3 bracket. As a former member of WISAA, the Lancers were back-to-back runner-up in Class A in 1988 and 1989, and a Division 2 runner-up in 2000.

DIVISION 5:  Three of the four qualifying teams in the field have qualified for the first time. Top-seeded Columbus Catholic will be making its fourth State appearance overall and its first since 2019 when the Dons finished runner-up. Prior to that, the Dons lost in the Division 4 semifinals in 2003 and in the Division 5 semifinals in 2017. They are the champions of the East Division of the Cloverbelt Conference this year. The Dons notched an 80-77 victory over Cashton to return to the tourney field. As a former member of WISAA, the Dons were a four-time champion in Division 3. They won back-to-back titles in 1996 and 1997 as well in 1999 and 2000. Second-seeded Almond-Bancroft qualifies for the State Tournament for the first time in the program’s history. They began celebrating the accomplishment following the Eagles’ 70-57 win over Reedsville in the Hortonville Sectional final. They are the champions in the South Division of the Central Wisconsin Conference this season. Abundant Life Christian is the third seed. The Challengers’ first appearance comes following a 63-53 victory over Salam in the Evansville Sectional final. They tied Deerfield for the championship in the South Division of the Trailways Conference this year. Fourth-seeded Solon Springs makes its inaugural appearance in the State Tournament by virtue of its 59-41 win over Owen-Withee in the Ashland Sectional final. The Eagles are the champions of the Northern Lights Conference this season.