Girls Power 5
Loyal (15-3) – After dropping a home game against conference leader Neillsville on January 31st, the Greyhounds won their next two. One of the two wins was a 51-49 defeat of Colby that they were in control of from start to finish. The other, a cruise control dub over Spencer. Things will likely remain in cruise control for the Hounds as their last three regular season opponents are a combined 12-24. First up is a road game at Granton on Tuesday then the home finale of the year against Columbus Catholic (watch live at zaleskisports.com). Should the Greyhounds win their final three, they will earn themselves a two seed in postseason play.
Marshfield (12-5) – The last time the Tigers lost a game was all the way back on January 7th when they were tripped up at home against Chippewa Falls. Since then? Eight consecutive wins and a catapult to the top of the Wisconsin Valley Conference with a 9-1 mark. Still some work to do for the Tigers in 2020 as they must beat both Wausau East and Wausau West this week to claim a conference championship. Both of the Wausau games are at home where Marshfield is unbeaten in conference play. Marshfield seems to be straddling the 6/7 seed line with a 6 the likely outcome with a WVC championship. You can watch Marshfield on Friday, February 14 as the take on Wausau West live at zaleskisports.com.
Neillsville (16-2) – Neillsville is a Spencer win and Granton win away from taking the Cloverbelt East championship. It would be the first Cloverbelt championship since the 2013/2014 season. It was the 2014 season where Neillsville ended its season in a state championship game as the runner up, after running their record to 27-0. What are the Warriors chances to make another appearance at the state tournament in 2020? We’ll know more specifically after Neillsville plays Osseo-Fairchild (14-4) in the Cloverbelt Crossover game. Looks like with Melrose-Mindoro (17-1), Colfax (16-2), and O-F in the same sectional, a 50/50 proposition is the best we can offer, the Warriors are looking at a 3 seed.
Newman Catholic (16-3) – Our first 2020 conference champion checks in as the Newman Catholic Cardinals. Now back-to-back Marawood South champs, the Cardinals have themselves chiseled into the one seed in the Bowler sectional. With wins over sectional foes Athens, Edgar, and Assumption (x2), there will be no argument over their seed placement.
Things will not be easy for coach Paul Haag’s Cards in the finishing stretch with a combined opponent record of 25-13. It’s Edgar (8-4) at home on Tuesday and Prentice (8-6) on the road Friday.
Pacelli Catholic (13-7) – Pacelli back on the list, for the time being. It’s a big, no a BIG week for the Cardinals coming up. Good thing that coach Jalling’s girls will have all week to get ready for it as a share of the Central Wisconsin South championship is on the line Friday when the Wild Rose Wildcats (14-3) come to town. The Wildcats are 8-0 in conference and the Cardinals, who stand at 9-1, need a win even things up in the loss column. Wild Rose claimed a home win, 57-54, back on January 10th that started a three game skid for the Cardinals. Anna Caswell and Laney Havlovitz teamed up for 38 points in the last game. No doubt the Cards defense will need to do better on Friday. A win over the Wildcats should give Pacelli enough argument to claim a three seed in the Adams-Friendship sectional and depending on how Auburndale and Colby finish, maybe higher. You can watch Pacelli vs Wild Rose on Friday, February 14th at zaleskisports.com.
Boys Power 5
Auburndale (16-2) – The Apaches six game winning streak was snapped at home last Tuesday at the hands of Edgar, 52-47. Perplexing to understand considering that Auburndale beat Edgar on the road earlier in the season 66-51. The normally tough Apache defense let up four double-digit Edgar scorers and the offense couldn’t find any rhythm in the second half, scoring just 19 points. Any frustration for Auburndale was released on Prentice last Friday to the tune of 82-54. Just one game for Auburndale this week when they travel to Athens on Thursday, February 13th. The Wausau East sectional will be mentioned often in this Power 5, first here with Auburndale. The Apaches look to be a two seed as of today.
DC Everest (12-3) – Bryan Halembeck loves playing at Marshfield. During the last three seasons Halembeck has racked up 74 points, a half-court buzzer beater for the win in 2018 and is unbeaten with three wins at the Boson Fieldhouse. Part of those 74 points was a game high 23 on Friday in Marshfield as Halembeck’s Evergreens ruined the Tigers’ senior night, 74-50, including a 27-7 start. The win put Everest (7-2) in first place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference, a half game clear of SPASH (6-2).
Three games for the Evergreens this week including a HUGE home game on Thursday against the SPASH Panthers. The week starts on Tuesday at Chippewa Falls (11-4) and concludes on Saturday with sectional companion Hudson (11-4). Should the Evergreens come out with three wins they will give themselves the inside track at the two seed in the Wisconsin Rapids sectional.
Edgar (13-3) – Alright Edgar, we see you! Two of the three Wildcat losses have come to Auburndale and Stratford with the third to Rib Lake 53-51 to open the season. Coach Dave Huss and his guys have impressed the 13 other outings, including wins against Neillsville, Auburndale and Almond-Bancroft (17-2). Those three teams have six combined losses and half at the hands of these Wildcats. The next five games for Edgar are on the road, with the scheduling disadvantage ending at Stratford. The first four of the road binge are seemingly very winnable games, a 4-1 mark there will end with Edgar claiming the #3 seed in the ridiculously competitive Wausau East sectional.
Neillsville (15-2) – It looks like the Cloverbelt East will be settled on February 18th when the Warriors (12-0) visit the Spencer Rockets (9-1). With Spencer being the only team left on the schedule with a winning record and a 63-46 rocking of the Rockets in January, no reason to think Neillsville isn’t conference champion in nine days. Also simple to figure is the Warriors seed in the treacherous Wausau East sectional. With losses to Auburndale and Edgar, and with Stratford having already claimed the one seed, it’s Neillsville firmly on the four line. Good news, the four gives you a regional final at home. After that, good luck. One game for Neillsville this week, Thursday at home against Colby (7-8).
Stratford (17-0) – Still best team on the list. The Tigers are undefeated, and nobody is getting close to stopping the Stratford boys. They even threw a Minnesota team at them and the Tigers turned back the Spring Grove Lions last Saturday at the Minnesota-Wisconsin Border battle by a 60-39 margin. To this point, Marathon has played them best, losing by 12 and 14. A road game this week at Marawood North leader Rib Lake (15-2) will determine if coach Ewan was able to glean anything from the Marathon games (watch live at zaleskisports.com). As was mentioned above, Stratford is the clear #1 seed in the Wausau East section.