Yes, I know this post comes after the start of the WIAA regionals…but often, we use the "honor system" for our in-house bracket competition. Plus, with no major upsets last night, this will work just fine.
It’s a similar situation to the boys bracket, in that any of these teams could advance…but in my mind, there’s a little more separation between the seeds. And in that aging mind, I think Memorial and North are the two best teams–I guess the coaches felt that way, too, by giving them the top two seeds. The Old Abes will get a tough test from River Falls while the Huskies have a challenge on their hands with Chippewa Falls, but both Eau Claire schools figure to advance. So which one wins that crosstown showdown at the Eagles Nest? North won by 5 and by 6 during the regular season. The Abes have the advantage inside with Katie Pospishil, but the Huskies have the athleticism on the perimeter to slow down point guard Chim Okoroji and close out on shooters Jessica and Shannon Rene. Tempo will be a big key, so is keeping key players out of foul trouble…not to mention obvious factors like field goal shooting percentage, hitting free throws, and turnovers. This is a tough one to pick, especially since I don’t have a crystal ball, a Ouija board, or even the Magic 8-Ball. But I do have a lot of loose change lying around…this time I use a 2005 quarter (West Virginia commemorative edition). The flip comes up tails, for the lower-seeded team: North. That puts the Huskies in a sectional final at the Doghouse versus Marshfield. This time around, North coach Dan Sippel gets to see a crucial call late in the game go in his team’s favor….the Huskies edge the Tigers in overtime, so the following week, fans at the Alliant Energy Center and those watching on the statewide network will get to see the North fans doing their "bus" and "little red wagon" routines. Other sectional winners: Oshkosh West, Milwaukee King, Brookfield Central, Middleton, Milwaukee Vincent, De Pere, and Janesville Parker.
How good is the local sectional? Rice Lake could very well win it as a #3 seed…but in this case, it’s a seed based on record, and not talent. The Warriors won at #1 seed Altoona this past regular season. But before those two can think about a regional final matchup Saturday, Rice Lake will have to deal with Durand, while Altoona faces a solid, well-coached Barron club. Whichever team survives that meat grinder may then wind up with top-seeded Somerset in a sectional semi. In the bottom part of the bracket, Neillsville looks to be on another collision course with Sparta–last year, the Warriors beat the Spartans in the sectional final. My picks: Rice Lake edges Durand, Altoona goes to the wire to beat Barron. Rice Lake then knocks out Altoona and Somerset to set up an all-Warrior sectional final with Neillsville at some site to be determined. Very few teams play defense like Neillsville does for head coach John Gaier. (Maybe the fact he’s also the District Administrator gives him even more clout with the girls–or else he’s just a very good coach) The individual matchup between Neillsville’s Sheila Opelt and Rice Lake’s Casey Weber is well worth the price of admission. It’s hard to pick against either team, but I think Rice Lake has more scoring punch and too much talent to be denied a trip to Madison. Other state picks: Columbus, Ripon, and Slinger.
This is always a great local bracket….this year, though, three teams have separated themselves from the pack: defending sectional champ Osseo-Fairchild, Mondovi, and Colfax. O-F got shut down by Neillsville’s defense in the Cloverbelt championship game, which only means one thing: the Chieftains will learn from that loss to the Warriors, and they’ll be even more motivated to make a run through the D3 bracket. O-F is by far the most balanced team in the section, so I see the Chieftains beating Mondovi in the regional final, then knocking out Regis in a sectional semi, before eliminating Colfax in the sectional final. It’s the same story in the other three sectionals–the defending champs will advance to state once again: Amherst, Oostburg, and Cuba City.
Thorp-Clayton could be a very intriguing sectional semifinal. On the top part of the bracket, look for the two other #1 seeds (Northwood and Flambeau) to advance. It’s almost impossible to pick against Ted Alberson and his Falcons, so the folks in the Flambeau district can look forward to yet another trip to Madison, where they’ll be joined by the likes of Eleva-Strum, Wausau Newman, and Pecatonica.
(A quick note on the WIAA boys BB brackets: all 8 of my D1 picks are still alive. D2 is a different story, 2 picks are still playing, but Catholic Memorial and New Richmond are both out. I should have factored in Spooner’s solid play down the stretch, and recalled their nice tourney run of last season, which was sparked by the emotional leadership and scoring ability of Curtis Richardson. I have more issues in Division 3…Arcadia got absolutely waxed by La Crosse Aquinas, while Colby got bounced by Fall Creek. Clearly, I underestimated how well the young Crickets (not to mention the young Regis Ramblers) would perform in the postseason. However, Dominican and Roncalli are still playing. My dignity remains intact in Division 4, with Eleva-Strum, Randolph, Thorp, and Suring all looking ahead to sectional semifinal matchups on Friday.)
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on February 27, 2008