By Jason Zaleski
Welcome back to our alphabetical list of five girls and boys basketball teams that we think you should find a way to watch due to their exemplary play this season. Find them quickly as this list is dynamic and you will see teams come and go from this list regularly due to their performance, lack of, or better performance of another.
Many games mentioned below are broadcast live on Zaleski Sports. See the weekly schedule by clicking here.
Girls Power Five
Assumption (6-2) - The Royals scored eight points in the first half in a Thursday loss at Auburndale. Woof. Assumption has a chance to get well quickly with a road visit at Loyal on Monday. The Greyhounds are a paltry 1-5 and have had scoring outputs of 10 and 17 in two of the five losses. The Royals then get perhaps a much needed mental reset with its next game on January 4th that begins a three game home stand to begin 2022.
Neillsville (7-0) - That sound you hear? A big red Neillsville Warriors locomotive coming to your town, taking a win, and moving on to the next stop. It was a 58-24 rolling at Colby last week. This week the Spencer Rockets visit the Warriors on Tuesday in a conference clash that sees each team standing at 5-0. Neillsville gets a combined 30ppg from Paris Opelt, Emma Moseley, and Amelia Trunkel. Look for Neillsville to put the clamps on Spencer's Heavyn Kind (19.7ppg) and then put on a basketball exhibition to be admired.
Athens (7-0) - The Bluejays are an undefeated 7-0 this season. Athens hasn't played what most would consider to be a difficult schedule to this point. The young Jays have done their part and beat the teams put in front of them. Is this Athens team legit? We'll find out more on Tuesday night as they travel to conference foe Phillips with tip scheduled for 5:45pm. The Loggers are a perfect 3-0 in conference and the Tuesday winner will have a huge win on its side of the ledger that will carry a season long impact. Addison Lavicka averages 16.4ppg and Sohpia Coker grabs 11 boards each outing to help lead the Jays.
Auburndale (7-0) - Eagles fans were likely curious how their undefeated team was left off last week's list. After a 40-34 gear grinding win at home over Assumption on Thursday, be curious no more. The Eagles and Royals may have attempted to set basketball back a few decades with 10-8 halftime score. The Eagles then dazzled the home crowd in the second half with six made three-pointers, along with 22 combined points from Annamarie Aue and Grace Krings. The now 7-0 Eagles play at Bangor Tuesday before hosting its own holiday tournament on December 27-28.
Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln (3-3) - As was chronicled last week the Rapids girls paid their dues to begin the season playing a ranked team gauntlet. The Red Raiders learned its lesson all three losses to start the season and have now, as expected, ran off three straight dubs. Wisconsin Rapids is now 2-0 in the Wisconsin Valley Conference which looks like just a two horse race with perennial contender Wausau West also 2-0. Tuesday at Merrill and twice next week at the Sentry Classic in Stevens Point are three great opportunities to see Wisconsin Rapids in action. January 14th, for those that are advance scheduling fanatics, is when Rapids travels to West in a much awaited showdown.
Spencer - Two losses last week
Phillips - Don't report stats? Not eligible for this recognition.
Boys Power Five
Columbus Catholic (6-0) - The Dons needed every ounce of basketball ability to overcome Owen-Withee on the road Friday night. A Sam Wilczek three-point shot with just a few seconds left in the game was needed to earn the conference win. Often times, the recipe for the most memorable seasons include last second drama. Did the Dons just check that box on its way to one of those special seasons? Columbus hosts winless Gilman on Tuesday and then it's a pair of games next week at Concordia University in the Rick Majerus WBY Shootout. Of note in the Concordia event are the Newman Catholic games played immediately after each Dons game. Seems like the Dons and Cardinals are headed for a sectional semi-final playoff game on March 10th. Seems like you should be interested in watching next week in Milwaukee.
Iola-Scandinavia (5-0) - Five up, five down for coach Sam Bertsch and his T-Birds on the season. Coach Bertsch has the offense clicking early on as evidenced by his top three scorers Parker Prahl (19.8ppg), Brock Wester (11.2), and Isaac Hoyord (10.2ppg). Any time you get get your top three filling up the bucket, it always makes a good coach look great. An 18 point win over Pacelli and a 25 point margin over Amherst last week show the T-Birds will take on all comers. Next two weeks are road games at Winneconne and Nekoosa before the calendar turns to 2022.
Marathon (5-1) - Coach Adam Jacobson's Red Raiders stumbled on the road at Edgar 59-39 last week due in part to an alarming 26 turnovers. Coach Jacobson's boys responded well on Friday night at home in handing Stratford its first loss of the season, 61-55. In the Friday win, the Red Raiders had four in double-digit scoring that included 19 pumped in by 6'2" sophomore Tyler Underwood. On the season, senior Jaden Koeller is averaging nearly 20ppg and grabbing four boards per game. Marathon is averaging over 70 points per game in its five wins, a number that is likely a conference championship waiting to happen. Next up is a home game vs another high scoring conference club in Newman Catholic, a shootout in the making.
Newman Catholic (7-1) - The Cardinals bounced Assumption and Auburndale in the last six days. With those two teams bringing up the rear of the conference standings, make what you will of the 59-35 and 66-55 victories. Conference wins are always tough to come by and there may be no tougher conference test than Tuesday at Marathon (see above). Juniors Mason Prey and Isaac Seidel average a combined 43 points per game. The question is, do you have two defenders that can solve the Prey-Seidel scoring outbursts?
Stratford (5-1) - In life they say, you win some and you lose some. Stratford experienced its first loss of the season at Marathon on Friday, 61-55. The Tigers shot 6-25 from beyond the arc in the loss, so even a luke warm night likely would have been enough to leave Marathon with a win. Look for Stratford to keep attacking from the outside when they face Edgar on Tuesday and Mosinee on Thursday before watching the chimney for St. Nick.