As the WIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament gets underway today, two local squads open against each other while the other three start off against opponents they know little about.
Division 4 will feature a matchup of two local teams as No. 5 Manitowoc Lutheran (9-13, 7-11 Olympian Conference) will host No. 12 Mishicot (1-21, 1-17 OC). The Lancers swept the season series, beating the Indians 56-42 in a December home win and 62-55 in a late January road win.
“We have to play good defense. I am sure our kids are in tuned with that. We need to be patient on offense and keep the floor spread,” Lutheran coach Tim Lindloff said. “In this case, we know them, they know us, and we are ready.”
The Indians have not won on the road yet this season while Lutheran managed to go 3-8 at home during the regular season.
“Our expectation is to walk away with a victory. I feel we matchup well. Lutheran is a good physical, competitive team, so it will take us playing a nearly perfect game to get the win, but that’s something we have been building toward,” Mishicot head coach Justin Bestor said. “It will be a good game. Both times we played they were close, so I anticipate much of the same, a close, tough, physical ball game.”
Both teams, though, enter the game on losing skids, as Mishicot has lost its past two games while the Lancers have lost their past three games.
“(Playing at home) is huge,” Lindloff said. “We beat them by 14 at our court, at times led by 20, and we were in control. (In Mishicot) it was a little bit different.”
In the same bracket, Reedsville (7-15, 5-13 OC) was given a No. 6 seed and will host No. 11 Manawa (6-16, 1-13 Central Wisconsin Eight Conference). The pair, which have not faced each other this season and have no common opponents, come into the game struggling. Manawa is 2-7 over its last nine games and is 4-8 on the road overall while the Panthers are in a 1-6 stretch and were 4-7 at home. Manawa and the Panthers are comparable in size but Manawa’s strength on offense is its guards.
“They run multiple defenses and they run a swing-type of offense against man-to-man (defense), so we know what their personnel will look like,” Reedsville coach Steve Brooks said, noting the Panthers have attended a Manawa game. “We just need to play solid defense and identify what they are doing defensively and then run what we have to counter that. For us it’s a matter of identifying what we want to do and making sure everyone is doing that at the same time. We need to rebound the ball well, be patient and run our offense. I think if we run our offense we can run their defense down a little bit.”
The other two schools with games today — Kiel and Valders — find themselves in the Division 3 bracket with each being a No. 9 seed. The Vikings will be on the road to take on No. 8 Sturgeon Bay (13-8, 11-3 Packerland Conference) while the Raiders are at No. 8 North Fond du Lac (8-14, 3-11 Flyway Conference). The teams have not played each other this season and have no common opponents.
“It looks like we are pretty similar teams, it will be a good 8-9 (seed) matchup where both teams will play to their strengths. We both lost close games during the year and it should be a good game,” Valders coach Ron Nesper said. “We have to limit our turnovers. We have to get good shots. We have to continue to improve on defense. If we do that we will be fine.”
Kiel and North Fond du Lac enter the game playing near-.500 over their final six games, and while the Raiders were 1-10 on the road this season, North Fond du Lac seems to be a better road team as it was 2-7 at home this season.
“We have enough film on them. They are comparable to us. They are more balanced at the guard position, but we have the advantage in the post and inside,” Kiel coach Jamie Arenz said. “It will be a pretty good game and I am expecting a pretty good matchup. We have been playing much better defensively lately, so I think if we stay steady with what we do defensively we can limit their open looks. With the advantage inside, we will look to exploit that.”
Valders was 6-6 in away games this year and is 2-6 over its last eight games while Sturgeon Bay was 6-1 at home and enters the game on a five-game winning streak.
“It’s a season-long learning process. We have improved along the way. We are ready to go,” Nesper said. “We are glad the regular season is done and we are looking forward to the test of tournament time.”