When the WIAA State Girls Basketball Tournament kicks off today, two local squads get to face their opponent for the third time this season while two more delve into the unknown.
The 11-6 seeded matchup in both Division 3 and Division 4 will feature all Olympian Conference rivals. In D3, No. 11 Valders (3-19, 3-15 OC) and No. 6 Brillion (11-11, 7-11 OC) square off while No. 11 Mishicot (4-18, 4-14 OC) and No. 6 St. Mary Central (13-9, 11-7 OC) do likewise in D4.
The Indians lost both meetings with the Zephyrs this season, falling 47-36 in mid December on the road and at home 48-33 at the end of January.
“Anytime you try and beat someone three times in a season no matter which sport it’s a tall task,” Mishicot head coach Bob Hagenow said. “If we make our plays down the stretch I think we’ve got a great chance to win.”
Another change which could play in Mishicot’s favor is a potential injury to St. Mary’s starting point guard, who has missed the last three games with a knee injury.
“I’ve heard she’s out for the season,” added Hagenow. “If that’s the case we’ll be trying to pressure whoever takes her place with a full-court press.”
Offensively, Hagenow is hoping to create more space and open the lanes for dribble-drive penetration.
Like Mishicot, the Vikings have also has been swept in both previous matchups this season with their opponent, falling to Lions 41-38 in late November on the road and again at home 38-30 in mid January. Valders will be trying to right the ship, having lost six of its last seven. Brillion has lost two straight.
Valders head coach Dan Wagner takes a different approach to the idea of playing a team a third time will help his squad.
“We haven’t proven we can beat them yet,” said Wagner. “We have no emotional advantage heading into (today). We simply have to beat them first before we can know we can.”
Wagner is aware of how well Brillion has pressed his team in the first two meetings and is hoping to counteract it.
“It will be a difficult task to handle their press,” added Wagner. “We have to play smart and confident, not get rattled.”
No. 5 Kiel (43-8, 8-6 EWC), the highest area seed in action today, hosts No. 12 Ripon (2-20, 1-15 Eastern Valley Conference) to round out D3. The Raiders have not faced the Tigers this season but have beaten Little Chute earlier this season, a team Ripon lost twice to in conference play by a combined 69 points.
When asked about whether having beaten Little Chute earlier this season after Ripon has struggled against them. Kiel head coach Jeremy Bushman didn’t want to read into that too much.
“At this time of year it’s just a different ball game,” added Bushman. “You have to throw the records out the window, especially after seeing how the boys tournament has played out. Anything can happen and it sure will be exciting,”
Bushman is also excited about the play of his two post players, Brooke Goehring and Cassie Schweitzer.
“Brooke and Cassie give us a great one-two punch inside since we brought up Cassie to varsity around Christmas,” Bushman said. “Our kids are playing their best basketball at the right time.”
Finally, the area’s other home today, No. 7 Manitowoc Lutheran (12-10, 10-8 OC), hosts No. 10 Shiocton (7-15, 4-10 Central Wisconsin Eight Conference) finish D4.
The Lancers haven’t faced the Chiefs this season and but each have faced Reedsville, with Shiocton falling 39-28 in early December. Lutheran, meanwhile, split the season series between OC foes, handing the Panthers one of just two loses on the season.
“They (Shiocton) like to mix up their defenses every possession,” said Lutheran head coach Dave Jirikowic. “We’ll have to move the ball well and take good shots when they are open.”
Leading the Chiefs is 6-1 forward Jonalee Elliott, who Jirikowic feels is a player his team has to account for on each end of the floor.
“I think to counteract (Elliott) we have to play an up tempo game and utilize our speed,” added Jirikowic. “Basically we have to get as many girls on her as we can.”