NY2LASPORTS.COM - WIAA SECTIONAL PREVIEW - DIVISION 1
Antonio Curro — NATIONAL RECRUITING DIRECTOR - NY2LASPORTS.COM
The WIAA boys state tournament continues later today as Sectional play kicks off and junior Paul Jesperson along with a host of other talented performers lead their schools into play this weekend with eyes on a trip to Madison when the dust settles. Here's a preview of the Sectionals for the Division 1 tournament this weekend.
(Antigo, Eau Claire North, Merrill, Superior)
Antigo vs. Eau Claire North
Antigo heads into this one featuring a 1-2 punch of Jordan Mach and Skylar Cameron who account for 43 pts a game. Mach has been spectacular this season and Antigo is rolling with an unblemished record. Mach and Cameron will need to come up big once again but the contributions of seniors Chris Sailer and Matt Littlejohn in the paint and on the glass will be the key in this matchup. They have very little size and it will be up to Sailer to neutralize the impact of Wisconsin bound Evan Anderson if Antigo expects to move on. Eau Claire counters with Anderson and despite turning in a less than stellar senior campaign, the fact remains he'll be the biggest player on the court and stands to make an impact with a strong performance. Antigo doesn't have the size but they make up for the that with some solid offensive firepower. For North to move on Anderson will need to turn in a big time effort and they'll need to find a way to controll Mach and Cameron.
Merrill vs. Superior
There's so many underlying stories in this one especially when you consider that Merrill's Paul Jesperson and Superior's Joel Lindberg combined for an excellent backcourt last spring/summer. The stakes are a bit different here as Jesperson is one of the premiere sharpshooters in the 2011 class and Lindberg is one of the quiet sleepers in the state of Wisconsin. Superior is supposed to be here but Merrill isn't. Jesperson is arguably the top junior in the state and he can flat out take over the game with a lethal perimeter stroke. Junior Sam Arneson will need to come up big in the paint and senior T.J. Brunett will need to have a solid game in the backcourt for Merrill to advance against a very tough Superior squad. Superior heads into this one with a lethal trio that consists of juniors Joel Lindberg, Rob Kraft, and Josh Kimmes. They combine for roughly 49 points a game and present a host of matchup problems for Merrill. Bottom line in this one is if Superior stays balanced and plays as they have, it will take a monster effort from Jesperson & Co. to advance.
(De Pere, Appleton West, Appleton East, Kaukauna)
De Pere vs. Appleton West
De Pere was one of the frontrunners to capture the state championship before the tournament began and they've done nothing but further reinforce that notion so far. Each game gives junior Chris Kading an opportunity to get more into the flow of things on a team that already features an excellent backcourt in senior Brandon Pritzl and junior Reece Zoelle. One of the keys to this attack is the physical muscle of senior Scott Carney in the paint who is one of the underrated talents on this team. Appleton West counters with Sr. PG Kevin Levandoski and a solid supporting cast led by junior Ben Reker. West will need to play their best game of the year if they expect to get past a very strong De Pere team and even then it could be a struggle. As we indicated before the tournament, anything less than a trip to Madison for De Pere would be an upset.
Appleton East vs. Kaukauna
Look for Appleton East to be in the same spot as De Pere is this year...next year, but don't discount this team this year either as they have a balanced attack fueled by juniors Johnny Coenen and Caleb Zeegers. Three players scored in double figures for East and that doesn't even include their best prospect in sophomore Sam Mader who could see his stock explode in the next 12 months. Kaukauna counters with a 1-2 punch of seniors Jake Schalow and Ben Hennes who account for close to 37 points a game. Schalow has the ability to take over the game offensively and Kaukauna has already won two matchups against East this season. The x-factor in this game is Mader who'll need to deliver in a big way both on the glass and offensively if East expects to move on.
(Madison East, Middleton, Sun Prairie, Madison Memorial)
Madison East vs. Middleton
East has struggled in recent weeks after being ranked #1 in the state for a period of time. Senior Matt Everson leads a solid Middleton attack while East counters with a 1-2 punch of junior lead guard Nimrod Hilliard and senior forward Marquis Mason. A loss by East in this one would be a huge upset as a Sectional Final matchup with rival Madison Memorial seems inevitable right now.
Madison Memorial vs. Sun Prairie
Could it be that Memorial is getting no respect right now despite the fact that they are absolutely rolling right now. Being completely healthy does that but so does strong play from seniors Vander Blue, Tre Creamer, sophomore Junior Lomomba, etc. Prairie has some talent as well in senior Michael Boos, junior Chris Hawkins, and freshman sensation Nick Fuller. There is a ton of talent on the floor in this one on both ends. One thing that can cause problems for Memorial is a dominant interior game and Hawkins has the ability to dominate the paint with his power and strength. Memorial is clicking right now and they can hit you with so many weapons that it will take a huge effort from Sun Prairie to move on. As stated above, a Sectional Final matchup between East and Memorial seems inevitable.
(Oshkosh North, Sheboygan South, Neenah, Beaver Dam)
Oshkosh North v.s. Sheboygan South
Senior Taylor Cameron leads Oskosh North into this one against a balanced and well coached Sheboygan that counters with a 1-2 punch of senior Jake Reuter and junior Ethan Berlin. North offers up a solid supporting cast that provides solid balance and punch behind the scoring exploits of Cameron. South will need to play their best game of the season to get past North in this one.
Neenah vs. Beaver Dam
This could easily be one of the most competitive games of the weekend as both Neenah and Beaver Dam are dangerous teams on any given night. Neenah rolls in to this one led by seniors Patrick Follen and Josh Hopfensperger as well as sophomore Dylan Heemstra. Together the trio combines for close to 34 points a game and delivers a balanced attack for a Neenah squad who appears to be playing their best basketball of the season right now. Beaver Dam counters with seniors Dan Doctor and Tal Diekvoss along with sophomore Jake Heuer who combine for close to 45 points a game. Whichever trio delivers on Friday will move on.
(Arrowhead, Waukesha West, Germantown, Menomonee Falls)
Arrowhead vs. Waukesha West
Arrowhead comes into this one already having dropped West twice this season yet many look at this as a possible upside and senior Ryan Solberg of West is a huge reason why. Arrowhead has two achilles heels, one is to play physical and the other is to be able to knock down the trey ball with consistency. If you do either well you have a chance and while West has fallen twice this season, Solberg presents some mismatch problems with his versatility on both ends fot he floor. Arrowhead needs to make a statement in a big way against West and a strong performance on both ends by senior Ben Mills is a must to do that.
Germantown vs. Menomonee Falls
A must watch game as there are tons of storylines here and both are rolling right now. On the sidelines the advantage goes to Germantown as Steve Showalter has built Germantown into one of the perennial powers and has a great understanding for personnel, has the experience, and a knack for having his guys step up when it matters the most. On the floor Falls offers up one of the top talents in the state in sophomore Jean-Pierre Tokoto who's versatilty and athleticism create problems for any team. Falls has solid senior leadership and junior guard Jalen Ramey has come up big as well in recent weeks. Germantown counters with depth of its own and a young hungry group led by sophomores Zak Showalter and Josh Mongan who've been sensational at times this season. Don't sleep on junior Malcom Bowers either for G-town as he's delivered a number of quality performances as well. Size and experience on the court favor Falls but Germantown is an explosive offensive scoring team who can fill it up from behind the arc. Falls has had a knack for putting teams away early and they'll need to do that in this one as well. If Germantown can withstand the early push from Menomonee Falls and stay in this one till the fourth quarter, that favors Showalter & Co.
(Beloit Memorial, Kenosha Bradford, Burlington, Verona Area)
Beloit Memorial vs. Kenosha Bradford
Memorial is one of the most dangerous sleepers in the tournament right now and the trio of seniors K.J. Evans and Sharod Stone along with junior Leketreious Broomfield is the reason why. They have solid athleticism, good depth, and Evans and Broomfield may be the most underrated players in their respective classes. Bradford has been a bit of a surprise this year. A balanced attack has been the key for them this year and one guy to keep an eye on in this one is junior guard Quardell Young who could be an x-factor here. Nevertheless, Beloit Memorial has too many weapons for Bradford in this one.
Burlington vs. Verona Area
No one really talks about Burlington but they keep rolling along. Last week they grabbed the Regional championship despite their second leading scoring not playing as senior Nate Brandt was out with an illness. Nevertheless they moved on and junior Travis Crayton is one to watch here. The 1-2 punch of Crayton and Brandt has Burlington rolling right now. Balance and more balance is the key for Verona as Wildcats have six different players averaging close to double figures led by senior Sam Karls. Verona can hit you from a bunch of different angles and it will take a superb effort from Burlington to get past Verona.
(Milwaukee Hamilton, Brookfield Central, Waterford, Racine Park)
Milwaukee Hamilton vs. Brookfield Central
A classic David and Goliath matchup here as Hamilton is one of the favorites to capture the state chip while Central counters with a young group playing their best basketball of the season right now. Junior Charles Lee heads up the Hamilton attack that includes juniors Elgin Cook and Darnell Harris along with sophomore Itavian Belcher who's turned in a number of strong performances this year. Central counters with a young group led by senior Alex Diciaula who provides the stability for the upstart Central team. Junior Alex Olson and sophomore Seth Mortag are two keys for Central. Hamilton should advance here.
Waterford vs. Racine Park
Park has a chip on their shoulder and appear to be on a mission. Senior Josh Cameron leads a lethal balanced attack that can hit you from a number of directions. They are deep, talented, and look to be a lock for a sectional final matchup with Hamilton. HOWEVER, make no mistake that while everyone is just passing Park along to the Sectional finals, Waterford could present a very dangerous matchup for them and it starts with the trio of senior Beau Steffens and juniors Joe Sturino and Brent Plantz who average close to 40 points a game for Waterford. Waterford is very dangerous and while Park is rolling right now, Wateford could catch them looking ahead to a possible matchup with Hamilton and end up in the Sectional final themselves. Park should advance but that's why they play the games.
(Milwaukee King, Nicolet, Milwaukee Washington, Marquette)
Milwaukee King vs. Nicolet
King brings tons of experience to the table in this one but it's all on the sidelines as a young group will take to the court here. King has seen a number of guys step up at times this year and last week it was senior Marcus Kirk who pushed them past Bradley Tech into the sectionals. Sophomore Arroyo Edwards is the major piece of the puzzle here as he brings talent and versatility to the court for King but sophomore Anthony Hatfield has been solid as well at times. Senior big man Silas Mills Jr. will need to come up big in this one as Nicolet will counter with junior big man Christian Wiliams. Senior Courtlin Scott-Johnson has been solid as well at times for King. Nicolet counters with Williams and senior guard Myles Henry who can score with the best of them. A solid inside outside combination for Nicolet will be huge. If Williams comes up big and Nicolet's guards are efficient in terms of shooting and decisions, Nicolet could surprise people in this one.
Milwaukee Washington vs. Marquette
To no surprise the Hilltoppers advanced with a strong effort last weekend and junior John Kopriva was a huge reason why. Washington on the other hand rebounded from the loss of Quevyn Winters and Dominique Wiliams to make a statement of their own with a more up tempo ultra quick perimeter attack. Washington's guards led by senior Terry Taylor are good, active, and can create chaos and while Marquette counters with Kopriva, Washington has their own forward in John Cathey-Macklin who has explosive bounce and is playing his best basketball off the season. The Hilltoppers will need to find a way to handle the perimeter defense of the Washington guards and that falls on junior Quinten Calloway. A huge performance from Kopriva is a must for Marquette to get past the Purgolders who have something to prove right now. Keep an eye on sophomores Tony Mayfield Jr. and Deandre Harris for Washington, they are two of the strong young guards in a loaded 2012 class for the state.
Note: Antonio Curro is the National Recruiting Editor for NY2LASPORTS.COM, GENERATIONNEXBASKETBALL.COM and 414HOOPS.COM. He is also a national consultant for ESPNU and the HOOPSCOOP.