The WIAA postseason is not that far away…wrestling regionals and boys swimming & diving sectionals begin in two short weeks. Hockey regionals get underway on February 17, with the girls basketball postseason beginning the following Tuesday, and boys basketball starting its playoff series the week after that.
In the meantime, there are a lot of conference titles to be decided across the spectrum of the winter sports, and a number of key matchups that’ll help sort it all out:
BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING
Thursday, January 29: Chippewa Falls at EC Memorial
Neither the Cardinals nor the Old Abes have lost a Big Rivers Conference dual meet this season. Saying Memorial has dominated the BRC recently is like saying Michael Phelps had a pretty good Olympic Games…the Old Abes have reeled off 16 straight conference titles. Can the Cardinals be the team to stop that streak?
BOYS HS HOCKEY
Tuesday, January 27: River Falls at EC Memorial, Rice Lake at Hudson
Tuesday, February 3: EC Memorial at Rice Lake
Tuesday, February 10: Hudson at EC Memorial
Thursday, February 12: River Falls at Rice Lake
Unlike the last few years, when the only BRC race was for 2nd place behind Memorial, this season the Old Abes have company at the top of the standings. Right now, it looks like this: River Falls 6-1-1, Memorial 6-1-0, Rice Lake 6-2-0, Hudson 5-2-1. Beyond the BRC bragging rights, the 1/27 and 2/3 games will have big-time seeding implications with River Falls & Hudson battling for the #1 seed in the New Richmond sectional, and Rice Lake & ECM going after the top seed in the EC North sectional. FYI, the seeding meetings are scheduled for Sunday, February 8.
GIRLS HS HOCKEY
Thursday, January 29: Chippewa Falls at St. Croix Valley
The Fusion is responsible for the Cardinals’ only BRC loss this season…can the Cards hand St. Croix Valley its first loss? These two teams will wind up in different WIAA sectionals, so there’s a chance they could meet again…at the state tournament.
GIRLS HS BASKETBALL
Thursday, February 5, EC Regis @ Osseo-Fairchild
O-F has all but wrapped up the Western Cloverbelt title, but the Ramblers are probably the only team left on the schedule with enough firepower to stop the Chieftains’ quest for an unbeaten regular season.
Friday, February 6: Durand at Amery
The Panthers beat the Warriors in Durand earlier this season; on this night, it’s Amery’s chance to even the score and split the Middle Border Conference title. Both these teams will wind up in the same WIAA Division 2 sectional, but in different regionals…with the seeding meetings scheduled for 2/14, it’s possible that both could land #1 seeds.
Tuesday, February 10: Owen-Withee at Neillsville
Much like O-F has done in the WC, Neillsville is closing in on a title in the Eastern Cloverbelt…Owen-Withee is the lone team left that could put a blemish on the Warriors’ record.
Saturday, February 21: Cloverbelt Conference 1st & 2nd place games at Neillsville
Great tuneups for the WIAA regionals, with the matchups probably being either Regis or Altoona taking on O-W in the 2nd place game, while O-F and Neillsville collide for 1st place.
BOYS HS BASKETBALL
Tuesday, January 27: Rice Lake at EC North
The Huskies look to bounce back after a home loss to River Falls. North’s 6-11 junior Evan Anderson may see the court after being out since 12/12 with a sprained & dislocated ankle…the Huskies will need his defensive presence and rebounding if they’re going to make another run through the postseason as they did last year. The Warriors are starting to hit their stride, and with Alex Culy, Rice Lake has the firepower to compete with anyone.
Thursday, January 29: Colfax at Mondovi
The Vikings are the surprise team of the Dunn-St. Croix, while the Buffaloes expected to contend for a conference title. Colfax won at home earlier this season over Mondovi, 50-46, and another Vikings’ win over the Buffs would all but send the DSC title back to Colfax. Their rivalry may not end with this game…both Mondovi and Colfax are in the same WIAA Division 3 regional, which features other solid teams as Luck, Eleva-Strum, and EC Regis.
Saturday, February 7: Hudson at EC North
The Raiders look to complete the season sweep over the Huskies, and in doing so, can move closer to a BRC title and a #1 seed for the WIAA Division 1 regional.
Thursday, February 12: Fall Creek at EC Regis
The Crickets are unbeaten, but have had some close calls along the way. Will that make them vulnerable or battle-tested? It’ll be a tournament-type atmosphere when these two meet at the Ramblers’ gym–the type of game that’ll help both teams come playoff time. Speaking of the poststeason, Fall Creek and Regis are in different WIAA regionals…so a potential third matchup could come in a Division 3 sectional final.
Monday, February 23: Colby at Owen-Withee
The Hornets are steamrolling toward an Eastern Cloverbelt title, and while the Blackhawks may not be able to overtake Colby, they could be the team to spoil the Hornets’ unbeaten season. This game will be played after the regional seeding meetings, and with Colby, Owen-Withee, and Fall Creek all in the same Division 3 regional, it could be an interesting vote for the #1 seed if both Colby and Fall Creek are both unbeaten.
Saturday, February 28: Cloverbelt Conference 1st & 2nd place games at Osseo-Fairchild
A “tournament” before THE tournament. If it turns out to be Colby vs. Fall Creek in the 1st place game, it’ll be interesting to see whether Hornets coach Paul Knetter and his Crickets counterpart Rick Storlie save a few surprises for a potential meeting one week later in the regional.
This is just a partial list, mind you…there are countless other games that will matter in terms of conference races and playoff seeding. Beyond that, you never know what kind of drama you’ll see and when you’ll see it when it comes to high school sports. Again, if you’re looking for value out of your entertainment dollar, get out to your local high school and catch a contest….when you get home, catch the highlights on News 18 Sports or at www.wqow.com. We’ll have it all covered, all the way through the WIAA state tournaments in March.
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on January 24, 2009