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Monday, March 3, 2008

State Tournament Field All Set

Maymon, Blue advance; Wilson's big game not enough
This weekend brought to rest many dreams in the world of high school basketball. In Wisconsin, the Division 1 field has been pared to eight, while the three lower divisions have now determined their final four participants.

Personal fave Janesville Craig lost a heart breaker on Friday night, 65-62, when Lake Geneva Badger made 15-of-32 treys, including one in the final seconds. Lake Geneva (18-5) then jumped all over top-seeded Verona in the first quarter of the Sectional #6 final, thus sailing into Thursday's first quarterfinal match-up with Madison Memorial. The triumphant Spartans (21-2) marched through three games as the top seed in Sectional #3, winning by an average of 21 points. On Saturday, Memorial pulled away from Waunakee, who entered the game 23-0 after sneaking by Madison LaFollette.

After fighting off a midweek ankle injury, junior forward Jeronne Maymon poured in 27 points against the Warriors, while sophomore guard Vander Blue contributed 16 for the Spartans. Memorial exhibits fearsome pressure that opposing coaches have called "relentless." The style reminds you of a few Milwaukee high school teams from years past, which is ironic now that the boys state tournament will lack a team from the Cream City for the first time since 1978. Memorial has the look of a favorite.

Of course, several Milwaukee area teams may still stand in its way. Top-seeded Germantown (22-1) escaped Sectional #5 by beating second-seeded Milwaukee Vincent. Ready to greet Germantown in Madison is gritty defending champion Oshkosh West. West (17-7) got no love in being assigned a 4-seed, but "upset" crosstown rival Oshkosh North to make their third straight trip to the Kohl Center.

Another team making its third straight appearance is Brookfield Central, which will play Bay Port in the quarterfinals. The Lancers (18-5) overcame a mammoth performance from Jamil Wilson to beat Racine Horlick and secure their seventh trip to the state tourney in nine years. Central countered Wilson's 37 points and five threes with its own 3-point shooting in Horlick's own gym. Luckily for Wilson, he has one more year to get to state with most of the team returning intact next fall.

While Milwaukee King toppled undefeated juggernaut Milwaukee Washington, 59-58, on Thursday, Wauwatosa East (23-1) eliminated the Generals to win Sectional #8. Now it will be the Red Raiders facing off against Eau Claire North (18-4) in the late game this Thursday. So college fans will get to see at least one potential Wisconsin recruit, center Evan Anderson, on the big stage. UW assistant Gary Close was in attendance at the Marshfield sectional final, so you can bet Anderson is the team's to priority for 2010.

Breaking it down, four #1 seeds, three #2 seeds and one #4 seed advanced to the D1 state tournament. Monroe is one of three #1 seeds that moved on to State in D2. The Cheesemakers will take their first step toward a repeat championship when they play upstart 4-seed New Berlin Eisenhower.

In Division 3, the expected domination by parochial schools continues. As I suggested about a week ago, the percentage of private school teams from larger urban areas increased each round. They comprised five of the eight sectional finalists and now three of the four semifinalists.

A few years ago, many thought undefeated state champ Whitefish Bay Dominican was the best team in any division. With St. Louis-signee Kwamain Mitchell at the point, this season's squad is in the hunt for another gold ball. Over the weekend, top-ranked Dominican avenged last season's tournament loss to fellow D3 powerhouse Racine St. Catherine's. Joining Dominican at the Kohl Center will be Iola-Scandinavia, Eau Claire Regis and LaCrosse Aquinas. In another case of dominating margin of victory, Aquinas has won by 59, 31, 26, 29 and 29 points over its five-game waltz through the bracket. Unfortunately, Aquinas and Dominican meet right away in the semifinal round.

Not surprisingly, Randolph punched a ticket to Madison for the 12th time in the last two decades. Leading scorer Bryan Johnson teams with 6'9" sophomore Kyle Kelm and another Tillema (Tyler) for the Rockets, who are looking for their sixth D4 state championship in seven years. See for a description of how Tyler differs from his more recognizable older brothers.

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- The Star Ledger has a couple of interesting tidbits in a recent article on Devin Harris.
- Somehow, Hoops Marinara was mentioned in an ongoing argument regarding recruiting in the comments section at the JSOnline's Badger Blog. I'm flattered to be sure -- people are reading. But to the fellow who wasn't too pleased with my "blogger" profile, next time you quote something, at least be accurate.

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