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Seeding completed for boys basketball tournaments; regionals start March 3

Division 2

The Medford Raiders (17-4 overall, 11-0 Great Northern Conference) drew the sixth seed in their half of the Waupaca sectional and will host 11th-seeded Rice Lake (2-19 overall, 0-11 Big Rivers Conference) in their regional opener Tuesday.

The La Crosse Logan side of the bracket is headlined by two teams –– Onalaska and La Crosse Central –– that are on a collision course to meet in the sectional semifinal for the fourth straight year. Central has won the semifinal the past three years and is the four-time sectional champion.

So far this year, however, Onalaska (20-1 overall) has had the edge. The Hilltoppers swept Central in the regular season, winning the Mississippi Valley Conference contests 73-61 on Jan. 17 and 60-54 on Feb. 18. Their only loss was a 61-57 defeat to Minnehaha Academy of Minnesota on Dec. 21. They will bring a 17-game winning streak into tournament play, assuming they beat Holmen (7-14) in Friday’s regular-season finale.

Onalaska gets 14.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game from 6-5 senior forward Tyrell Stuttley, a Minnesota State Mankato recruit; 13.7 points per game from 6-5 senior Carson Arenz, who is the team’s top outside shooter, and about six points and six rebounds per game from 6-11 junior Gavin McGrath.

La Crosse Central (16-5 overall) is led by University of Wisconsin recruits Johnny and Jordan Davis. Johnny, a 6-5 senior, is averaging 28.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and seven assists per game. Jordan, a 6-4 senior, averages about 13 points per game is more of an outside shooter than his brother. Terrance Thompson is a 6-7 senior who is getting interest from NCAA Division I mid-major programs. He puts in 13 points and grabs 5.5 rebounds per game. Charlie Masewicz, a 6-6 senior, adds even more size.

Onalaska is the only Wisconsin team to have beaten Central.

Seeds three through six are all having banner seasons, but they’ll all have a hard time knocking off Onalaska or Central.

New Richmond (18-3) will likely share the Middle Border Conference with Prescott. Both teams are 12-1. The Tigers’ only non-conference losses are to Division 1 squads Eau Claire North (71-58) and Hudson (80-63). The Tigers had won 17 of 18 before Monday’s loss to Hudson. New Richmond sealed the three-seed by beating River Falls 68-59 on Feb. 11. They get 20.5 points per game from 6-5 sophomore CJ Campbell and 18.3 points per game from senior Cory Kidder, who scored 44 points in a 95-61 win over Ellsworth Friday.

Sitting behind Central and Onalaska, fourth-seeded Tomah has quietly gone 16-5 overall and 7-4 in the MVC. The Timberwolves losses to Onalaska and Central have been by an average of 40 points.

Fifth-seeded River Falls is also 16-5 and had a solid year in the Big Rivers Conference, where it’s currently tied for second at 8-3 with Eau Claire North, who it beat 68-52 on Monday. The Wildcats get 21.6 points per game from 6-3 junior Zac Johnson and have some size in 6-9 twins Liam and JT Dougherty and 6-5 senior Peyton Flood.

Sixth-seeded Medford has had an exceptional year in the GNC, plays relentless defense and is tough to beat when it’s hitting outside shots. They’re led in scoring by GNC Player of the Year Peyton Kuhn.

–– Sports Editor Matt Frey

Division 5

The Gilman Pirates and Rib Lake Redmen were sent to their separate ways this season by the WIAA with Gilman staying in the west and Rib Lake getting shipped to the Pulaski sectional.

Third-seeded Rib Lake (18-4 overall, 12-4 Marawood North) has losses to two high-quality Marawood South opponents (Stratford and Auburndale), got upset by Prentice in December on a tough shooting night and lost Friday to Athens, a team that has been a thorn in its side the last two seasons.

Rib Lake is led by a core group of four seniors –– Levi Ewan, Nick Gerstberger, Steven Petkau and Devyn Vlach –– who combine to give the Redmen a little bit of everything from scoring to 3-point shooting, length, defense and rebounding.

The top of the half-bracket features the top two teams in the Central Wisconsin Conference South, Almond-Bancroft and Wild Rose.

Almond-Bancroft (18-3 overall, 9-2 CWC South) was 16-1 before losing two of its last four games, including a 68-59 double- overtime defeat to Wild Rose Friday and a 63-51 loss to Pittsville on Feb. 7. Both losses came at home.

Though they’re the top seed, the Eagles could finish second in their conference behind Wild Rose (15-6), who is 10-1 in league play. The Wildcats, though, finish with a tough game at Pittsville tonight. Wild Rose has won nine of its last 10 and gets 17 points per game from 6-2 senior Caleb Williams.

Wild Rose destroyed Pittsville 62-36 in the season’s first meeting on Jan. 7.

Fourth-seeded Pittsville, however, is coming into the tournament hot, having won 11 of 12, including a 68-50 win over Eastern Cloverbelt co-champion Spencer on Jan. 28. The Panthers get 25 points and 10 rebounds per game from 6-4 senior Matthew Kissner. The Panthers are 7-4 in the Central Wisconsin South. They were 5-4 overall at one time.

Another team coming into the tournament on an upswing is fifth-seeded Athens (15-6, 9-6 Marawood). The Blue Jays have won six of their last seven, including Friday’s 63-56 win at Rib Lake and Monday’s 74-60 win at Spencer. They featured a tough one-two punch in 6-6 senior bruiser Cameron Ford (19 points and 13 rebounds per game) and smooth sophomore guard Cooper Diedrich (17 points per game).

In the Superior sectional, Gilman (6-15, 5-11 Eastern Cloverbelt) drew the 13th seed in the McDonell Central halfbracket and will head to fourth-seeded Turtle Lake (16-4, 7-2 Central Lakeland Conference) for its first-round game on Tuesday. The Pirates enter the tournament on an upswing, having won three of four heading into tonight’s regular-season finale against Osseo-Fairchild, including a 58-49 upset win over seventh-seeded Greenwood on Monday. Gilman has one of the top players in the sectional in junior Andrew Hecker, who’s averaging 23.6 points per game and about 10 rebounds.

Turtle Lake’s only league losses came to third-seeded Clear Lake. The Lakers have four players with double-figure scoring averages, led by 6-2 sophomore Brendan Strenke (16.8 points per game), and shoot a fairly high number of 3-pointers. They average 68 points per game.

Clear Lake (18-3 overall) went a perfect 10-0 in the Central Lakeland but a 65-48 loss on Dec. 9 to second-seeded McDonell Central stands out. Wins over Turtle Lake, 47-44 and 63-51, were pretty close. The Warriors are a defensive-minded club that has limited opponents to an average of 40 points per game. Ten times they’ve held opponents under 40.

The top two seeds in the half-bracket come from the Western Cloverbelt. Conference runner-up Thorp (15-5 overall, 11-3 conference) drew the top seed. The Cardinals are a relatively- young squad, but the heavy lifting is done by 6-6 senior Isaac Soumis (18.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game) and 6-2 senior Ethan Reis (16.7 points per game). The Cardinals are on a 12-1 streak heading into Saturday’s second-place Cloverbelt crossover against Spencer. The Cardinals split their season series with McDonell, losing 40-33 on Dec. 12 and winning 44-43 on the road on Jan. 30.

McDonell Central (15-6) has won the sectional the past four years. The Macks do come in limping a bit having lost four of six. They went 9-5 to place third in the Western Cloverbelt. JD Bohaty and Elon Kressin have been there, done that the past couple of years in tournament time.

Fifth-seeded Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran (15-4 overall, 10-3 Dairyland Small) carries a nine-game winning streak into tonight’s conference finale against league-champion Blair-Taylor.

–– Sports Editor Matt Frey