With so many good local teams, the boys basketball postseason will not be for the faint of heart
By Paul Lecker
As usual, the Division 4 sectional that includes mostly teams from central Wisconsin is loaded with topnotch competition for the upcoming 2015 WIAA boys basketball playoffs.
In the top half of Sectional 2 in the Division 4 field, five of the six teams enter the postseason with winning records, meaning four high-quality teams will be eliminated before sectional weekend.
After winning the Cloverbelt Conference East Division, Spencer (17-4 entering Saturday’s Cloverbelt crossover first-place game against undefeated Eau Claire Regis) is the No. 3 seed and will take on No. 6 Stevens Point Pacelli (10-11) in a regional quarterfinal Tuesday at Spencer.
The Rockets have lost three of their last five games after starting the season with a 15-1 record. However, coach Randy Reckner said he is not fazed.
“I’m not affected by it. I don’t think the team is affected by it,” Reckner said. “We just have to come out and play. We play Regis on Saturday, and that’s a very good team to play before the playoffs. Win or lose, it could only help you.”
Pacelli boasts senior guard James Gollon, an Ohio University recruit that is second in the state in scoring, averaging 30 points per game. Gollon poured in 47 points in a loss to Stratford earlier this season. Pacelli started the season 1-8 before winning six in a row.
“They have a very good player in Gollon, and that’s a very tough first-round opponent for us,” Reckner said. “We drew the three seed, which surprised me a little bit, but that’s the way seeding meetings go sometimes. We’re going to play Tuesday night and hopefully move on from there. I think our kids would really look forward to beating Pacelli and going against Auburndale again, but we have a game to play before that. We have to take care of our business first.”
The winner will advance to a regional semifinal at No. 2 seed Auburndale (14-7 prior to Thursday’s Marawood crossover against Chequamegon). The Apaches started the season 6-1, including a 53-52 thriller at Spencer back on Jan. 3. Since then, Auburndale is 8-6 and is searching for the consistency it had early in year.
“The goal is consistency, doing the right thing at the right time and to the best of your ability,” Auburndale coach Chad Weinfurter said. “We had some mental breakdowns in a close game (last Friday in a 43-41 loss to Wausau Newman). In some close games we’ve been excellent and other games we’ve had a few (breakdowns).”
Stratford (13-8 prior to Thursday’s Marawood crossover against Prentice) is the No. 5 seed in the regional and has to hit the road, playing at No. 4 Edgar (14-7) in a regional quarterfinal on Tuesday.
The Tigers went through a tough stretch, losing five of seven games before winning in overtime against Amherst and beating Northland Lutheran in its Marawood South finale. Stratford scored a season-high 69 points in the win over Amherst, a No. 1 seed in the bottom half of the Sectional 2 bracket, and followed that up with 62 against Northland Lutheran.
Marshfield Columbus Catholic heads into the postseason on a high note.
The Dons (14-7 before Thursday’s Cloverbelt crossover at Altoona), have won four in a row, including a 64-55 win at Spencer on Monday.
Columbus is the No. 2 seed in its portion of the Division 5 Sectional 2 brackets and will face Abbotsford (4-17) in a regional quarterfinalTuesday at home.
The Dons boast three players who score in double figures: sophomores Hunter Schultz (14.2) and Tyler Fuerlinger (10.7) and junior Evan Nikolai (13.2).
In Division 1, Marshfield (6-15 prior to Thursday’s game against Wausau West) is the No. 7 seed and will play at No. 2 Chippewa Falls (13-8) in a regional semifinal on March 6.
Prior to Thursday, the Tigers lost three games in a row, all by three points or less. Marshfield has won just twice since going 4-5 during the early part of the season but has remained competitive. Nine of the team’s 15 losses have come by eight or fewer points.
Chippewa Falls had its four-game winning streak snapped Tuesday, losing to Onalaska 65-41. The Cardinals beat Marshfield 64-48 back onDec. 30.
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WIAA Boys Basketball Playoffs
Regional quarterfinals, March 3
Division 4: Stratford (13-8) at Edgar (14-7); Stevens Point Pacelli (10-11) at Spencer (17-4).
Division 5: Abbotsford (4-17) at Marshfield Columbus Catholic (14-7).
Regional semifinals, March 6
Division 1: Marshfield (6-15) at Chippewa Falls (13-8).
Division 4: Spencer-Pacelli winner at Auburndale (14-7).
Regional finals are March 6 with sectionals on March 12 and March 14. The 100th annual WIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament will be held March 19-21 at the Kohl Center in Madison.