VIP: GIRLS BASKETBALL SECTIONAL PREVIEW - FIVE AREA TEAMS TO BATTLE IN FOUR GAMES THURSDAY
Updated: Mar 9, 2022
By Paul Lecker
The WIAA girls basketball playoffs continue with sectional play on Thursday, March 3, and Saturday, March 5, in five divisions across Wisconsin.
The 20 sectional winners qualify for the 2022 WIAA State Girls Basketball Tournament, which returns to the Resch Center in Green Bay after being held in La Crosse and Oshkosh a year ago, and canceled midway through in 2020.
Five teams in the Zaleski Sports stratosphere will be competing Thursday in four contests as they look for a spot in Saturday’s sectional finals. All four games will be broadcast live at zaleskisports.com beginning 7 p.m.
Here’s a look at the matchups:
No. 1 Mosinee (25-1) vs. No. 2 Lakeland (18-8) at Wausau West
The matchup: Great Northern Conference champion Mosinee defeated Lakeland twice during the regular season, winning 54-42 at Lakeland on Nov. 30 and 50-46 in its closest GNC matchup of the season at home on Jan. 14. Jenna Placek and Lexi Freiboth each had a double-double in the second win over the Thunderbirds – Placek with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Freiboth with 10 points and 11 assists. Junior Julianna Ouimette leads Lakeland in scoring at 20.4 points per game, and the Indians held her to 11 and 17 points in the two matchups. Kate Fitzgerald leads Mosinee in scoring at 14.7 points per game and rebounding at 8.5 per contest.
Sectional final: No. 1 Rice Lake (22-4) plays No. 2 Menomonie (23-3) in the other semifinal at River Falls on Thursday. The winners will play at Hayward at 1 p.m. Saturday.
No. 2 Neillsville (24-2) vs. No. 5 Fall Creek (19-8) at Osseo-Fairchild
The matchup: Fall Creek upset No. 1 seed Osseo-Fairchild 44-40 in a regional final on Feb. 26 to win its ninth-straight game and move into the matchup with Neillsville.
Tori Martin and Katie Kent lead the Crickets in scoring at 9.6 points per game. Neillsville has won 12 games in a row since a nonconference loss to Chippewa Falls McDonell on Jan. 18. The Warriors, ranked seventh in the final Wissports.com Division 4 state coaches poll, survived a tight regional final with a 39-36 win over Colfax last Saturday as Delaney Rochester led the way with 12 points and Emma Moseley added 10. Paris Opelt (11 ppg), Amelia Trunkel (10.2 ppg) and Moseley (9.7 ppg) lead a balanced scoring attack for the Warriors.
From Neillsville coach John Gaier: “At this time of year it is just great to still be playing. Fall Creek will create some great challenges for us. They have two very good post players, and some solid guard play. They also have the experience of making it to state last year. We are going to have to handle their defensive pressure, and will have to find a way to slow down what they want to accomplish offensively. It would be great to get this win and have a chance to play again on Saturday, but it is important for us to not look past the game that is right in front of us. All of our focus is on Fall Creek, and I hope our players can make the types of plays that can help us be successful.”
Sectional final: No. 1 Phillips (24-2) plays No. 2 Ladysmith (23-3) at Chetek-Weyerhauser on Thursday. The winners will play at Osseo-Fairchild at 1 p.m. Saturday.
No. 1 Westfield (25-1) vs. No. 2 Auburndale (19-7) at Stevens Point
The matchup: Westfield, ranked third in the final Wissports.com Division 4 state coaches poll has won 14 games in a row, 13 by double digits, since suffering its only loss of the season to Madison Edgewood 44-42 on Dec. 30. Sophomore Carly Drew leads the Pioneers in scoring at 19.5 points per game with 59 made 3-pointers. She scored 27 in their regional semifinal win over Colby and 17 in a regional final against Wittenberg-Birnamwood. Auburndale earned a pair of tight wins in its first two playoff games, holding off Abbotsford 63-61 and Iola-Scandinavia 48-42. Junior Annamarie Aue had 28 points in the win over Iola-Scandinavia and leads the Eagles in scoring at 13.5 points per game.
Sectional final: No. 1 Neenah St. Mary Catholic (25-1) plays No. 3 Bonduel (22-4) in the other sectional semifinal Thursday. The winners play in a sectional final at Waupaca on Saturday at 1 p.m.
No. 1 Wisconsin Rapids Assumption (24-3) vs. No. 3 Edgar (20-7) at Marshfield
The matchup: The third battle between the Marawood South rivals has a lot more on the line this time. Assumption won conference games over the Wildcats 45-29 at Edgar on Dec. 7 and 37-33 at home on Jan. 27. The second win for the Royals came after a loss to Neillsville and Assumption hasn’t lost since, winning 10 straight games. Assumption, the defending Division 5 state champion, survived a one-point win over Athens, 61-60, in the regional final as Kendall Duellman made a basket with 42 seconds to go and the Royals held on. Edgar is led by 5-foot-10 junior Reagan Borchardt, who averages 13 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. The Wildcats reached the sectionals with a one-point victory as well as they won at No. 2 seed Wild Rose 53-52.
From Assumption coach Ryan Klein: “We’ll need a team effort for sure. They (Edgar) are another tough opponent for us, and we look forward to the challenge.”
From Edgar coach Tom McCarty: “We are going to have to handle their pressure a little bit better. This will be key to making sure that we are getting shots each trip down the floor. We have been shooting a pretty good percentage lately, so we need to make sure that we are valuing each possession to get a shot. We played them (Assumption) very tough the last time we saw them, but still turned it over more than 20 times. If we can cut that number down, I think we will have a great game on our hands.”
Sectional final: No. 1 Wabeno/Laona (20-6) plays No. 2 Three Lakes (17-6) in the other sectional semifinal Thursday at Crandon. The winners play in a sectional final at D.C. Everest on Saturday at 1 p.m.
2022 WIAA Girls Basketball Playoffs
All semifinals start at 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 3
No. 1 Hortonville vs. No. 4 Neenah at Kimberly
No. 2 Appleton East vs. No. 3 Superior at Eau Claire Memorial
Saturday, March 5
At Appleton North, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 3