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View from the cheap seats

View from the cheap seats View from the cheap seats

A weekly perspective on sports

Casey Krautkramer Reporter The Record-Review

Stratford’s boys basketball team is rolling through its competition thus far this season, as the Tigers appear to be on their way to posting their second straight undefeated regular season.

Opponents had their chance to beat Stratford early this season when the Tigers were two weeks behind in practices, because of the school’s long football season, in relation to most other basketball teams in the state.

It’s too late now for Stratford’s regular- season opponents to gain an edge against the Tigers, especially since Tigers senior forward Vaughn Breit’s health continues to improve. He now looks like his old self again as a dominating basketball player. Breit sat out the first few games this season, and then slowly worked his way back into Stratford’s starting lineup as he recovered from a leg injury he sustained at the end of the football season.

Local teams such as Edgar and Marathon are surely not looking forward to seeing Stratford in their normal WIAA Division 4 regional this season. Stratford formerly competed in Division 3, which was much tougher when the Tigers played against bigger schools like Wisconsin Dells that have deep player benches.

It appears the top teams in Stratford’s Division 4 sectional semifinal, which would be played at Wausau West High School, are Auburndale, Edgar, Marathon and Neillsville. Auburndale is the only boys basketball team ranked in the top 10 Division 4 boys basketball teams in this week’s coaches poll. Stratford remains ranked No. 2 behind the Cuba City Cubans and Auburndale is No. 7.

Neillsville’s record is 10-0 in the Cloverbelt East Conference and 13-2 overall this season. Senior guard Alex King, who has committed to play at NAIA Division 3 Viterbo University in La Crosse, leads Neillsville in the main statistical categories of scoring, rebounding and assists this season.

Should Stratford win its sectional semifinal game, let’s look at which teams it would likely face in the Division 4 sectional championship game at Wausau East High School. Oshkosh Lourdes Academy is a usual suspect in the sectional finals. Marathon’s 2011 boys basketball team beat Lourdes in a sectional championship game to advance to the state tournament. Marathon lost to Oshkosh Lourdes in a close sectional championship game at Neillsville High School.

Junior Preston Ruedinger leads Lourdes again this season by averaging 27.8 points per game. He averaged 19 points per game last season while being selected to the WIAA all-state tournament team. Lourdes is currently ranked No. 6 behind Iola-Scandinavia in Division 4. Winnebago Lutheran is ranked No. 8. These three boys basketball squads are possible opponents for Stratford in a sectional final game.