NY2LASPORTS.COM - WIAA REGIONAL WRAP-UP
Antonio Curro — NATIONAL RECRUITING DIRECTOR - NY2LASPORTS.COM
The WIAA Regionals are now history after an excellent week of hoops but John Kopriva and Milwaukee Marquette are still in the mix as we head into the Sectionals later this week. Here's some thoughts as we wrap-up the Regional finals from this past weekend...
The Marquette victory over Riverside didn't come as too much of a surprise when you consider that Marquette started their season very late due to the football state championship. They started 0-3 and never really found a flow until after the holiday season where they started to roll a bit. Outside of a second quarter run by Riverside, Marquette dominated this game on a number of levels. John Kopriva was sensational down the stretch and once Marquette began shooting the trey balls instead of passing them up, they broke the Riverside zone and took control. Their matchup with Washington is rematch from earlier this season and you can bet Marquette hasn't forgotten. However, the Washington team they're playing is a much quicker smaller team than before due to recent events. This one should be an excellent matchup and the quick guards of Washington could cause a lot of problems for Marquette who'll need another big game from Kopriva if they expect to advance.
We tried to warn you that Cedarburg was a huge problem for Arrowhead and that proved to be right on as Chip Rank completely dominated a matchup with Ben Mills to the tune of 31 points but Arrowhead was able to survive. To beat Arrowhead you either (A) have to be able to spread them out and knock down the perimeter jumpers or (B) you need to have a big time physical interior talent. Cedarburg had the ladder but Arrowhead had just enough to outlast them on Saturday despite Rank's efforts.
At some point you have to believe Racine Park will ge their respect. They are blistering opponents right now and rolled right through the regionals. A matchup with Milwaukee Hamilton seems inevitable and that is a must watch game if it goes down.
Parity is big at the D1 level and that means big time talent can swing a game one way or another. Merrill escaped past Wausau West on Saturday. Junior Paul Jesperson is one of the best in the state and if he gets it going there's no reason why he couldn't put Merrill on his back all the way to Madison.
King escaped Tech while Nicolet did the same with Milwaukee South. Nicolet has some athletic guards and one of the best young bigs in the state in Christian Williams. A big game by Williams & Co. could surprise a favored King squad if taken lightly.
Waukesha West and Senior Ryan Solberg dropped Milwaukee Vincent. Soldberg presents another matchup problem for Arrowhead with his size and versatility. He can score inside and outside and is one of the truly underappreciated talents in the state.
Germantown dropped Hamilton. This young team is firing on all cylinders right now and Zak Showalter can fill it up with the best of them. If they get their perimeter shooting going against Menomonee Falls, a trip to the Sectional Finals would not be out of the questions.
The Falls escaped but it's all about surving and advancing at this time of the year. Mukwonago gave them all they could handle and then some but Falls was able to move on to a matchup with Germantown.
Would be very surprised if Beloit Memorial doesn't end up in Madison. They have athletes and one of the truly underrated players in the state in K.J. Evans. They dropped Badger on Saturday in another solid effort.
De Pere moved on and right now I think they are one of three early favorites to take home the ship. Love this team's depth, ability to score inside and outside, etc.
Appleton East dropped Bay Port and set the stage for an excellent matchup with Kaukauna. East may very well be a year away from a very deep run but they have some solid scoring punch and feature one of the true matchup problems in the state in sophomore Sam Mader who was solid once again on Saturday.
Madison Memorial rolled on and they might very well be playing the best of anyone right now. They are healthy, very talented, very deep, etc.
Bay slid past Port and that really wasn't a surprise. When you consider the 1-2 punch of John Johnston and Jamie Schneck, Bay presents a host of matchup problems. Add to the mix a solid supporting cast and ultra quick lead guard Jevonte Merriweather, Bay is very dangerous when they're at their best. This team is battle tested after going through a very tough North Shore Conference this year.
Keep trying to tell people not to sleep on Madison Edgewood and Lake Mills found out on Saturday. Spencer Brink and Austin Arians are two very talented sophomores and they are fueling the Madison Edgewood machine right now. Very dangerous.
Hate to say this but Wisconsin Lutheran rolls as does Catholic Memorial, despite struggling in the first half. Game looks to be the state championship three rounds early on paper. Lutheran completely dominated their matchup with Eisenhower while Memorial used a huge third quarter burst to get past East Troy. Flavien Davis, Terry Nash, T.J. Bray, and Derek Schell are all playing well right now for those teams.
Calahan Skogman powered Seymour past Little Chute. The young man can really fill it up and has Seymour rolling at the right time.
Gotta give props to Nick Arenz of Onalaska who came up big with 24 and 12 on Saturday. One of the top young prospects in the state, Arenz is a skilled big who presents a lot of matchup problems for opposing teams. He was excellent this past weekend.
Waupun = Austin Armga. He can score at will and brings excellent leadership to the table as well. Waupun rolled past New London and anything less than a Sectional Final matchup would be surprising.
Troy Huff powered Brookfield Academy past Watertown Luther Prep and that wasn't a surprise at all as we called it. Academy is rolling right now as they can score the basketball, have solid depth, etc.
La Crosse Aquinas moved on behind the strong play of freshman Bronson Koenig. Anything less than a Sectional Final matchup with Cuba City would be a surprise. Koenig can score it, has excellent instincts, etc. He came up big on Saturday.
St. Cats rolled as Steve McWhorter continued his stellar play. They have solid coaching, decent depth, and one of the best in the state in McWhorter and will be very tough to beat.
Up next for St. Cats is a young and hungry Dominican squad who used a huge second quarter to take control over Destiny. Freshman guard Duane Wilson Jr. was exceptional to the tune of 17 points on Saturday but the versatillity and consistent play of Iman Johnson has been huge for them. Role players like Breon Jordan, Mikael Luter, etc. all came up big on Saturday and Dominican really got it going defensively. Their matchup with St. Cats is another must watch game this weekend.
Brillion dropped Roncalli and that really came as a surprise to us due largely in part to the play of Ben Stelzer of Roncalli who was sensational this season. The key for Brillion is they have great balance with no true star but a ton of role players who are a team in every sense of the word. Excellent performance on Saturday.
Another surprise came as Thorp dropped Jordan Reetz and Fall Creek. The 1-2 punch of Connor Olejniczak and Jace Kobylarczyk has been huge for Thorp all season long. Another solid effort on Saturday for Thorp.
Gotta give big time props to Barneveld who came up huge in the second half to roll past Benton. All it takes is to get on a roll and they are definitely clicking right now as they dominated the second half against Benton.
Randolph won easily as well. Good luck as they are really at the top of their game right now and look very tough to beat.
Green Lake has not be dominant in any sense of the word but they continue to move on and that's all that matters. Still feel they present the toughest matchup on paper for the favorite in Randolph.
Newman-Catholic turned in another convincing performance as they defeated Bowler on Saturday. Jacob Wolf powers a balanced attack for a Newman-Catholic team that is rolling right now. Their matchup with Green Lake on Friday is one of the must watch matchups of the weekend.
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.