Varsity Chatter: Lightning favorite to win state title

Varsity Chatter: Lightning favorite to win state title


Varsity Chatter: Lightning favorite to win state title


It’s that time to do some prognosticating for the WIAA girls’ basketball tournament that kicks off today. Here are my picks on teams that will pop through to the state semifinals and the championship by division. I’m predicting one state champ (Appleton North) and a pair of state qualifiers (Hortonville, Wrightstown) from our area.

Appleton North coach Joe Russom has the top-ranked girls’ basketball team in the state in Division 1.

Appleton North coach Joe Russom has the top-ranked girls’ basketball team in the state in Division 1.

DIVISION 1: SEMIFINALS – Appleton North over Milwaukee King; Middleton over De Pere. FINAL: Appleton North over Middleton.

Ricardo says: North has been my top team all season and King is nationally ranked by USA TODAY. Both are top seeds. De Pere is a second seed that I think will pull an upset over top-seed Germantown to advance. I see Middleton, a four seed, knocking off top-seed Mukwonago in the sectional semifinals and Sun Prairie in the sectional final.

DIVISION 2: SEMIFINALS – Pewaukee over Hortonville; Beaver Dam over Stoughton. FINAL: Beaver Dam over Pewaukee

Ricardo says: I like Hortonville dropping down to D2 after playing mostly D1 schools during the regular season. Pewaukee, however, has played so well of late and has an impressive win over Germantown on its resume. I’ve given Beaver Dam top billing all season in the AP poll and think the Golden Beavers are the class of the division.

DIVISION 3: SEMIFINALS – Whitewater over Wrightstown; Martin Luther over Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau. FINAL: Whitewater over Martin Luther.

Ricardo says: Wrightstown is my pick to represent the area and survives a tough sectional to reach state. That said, I also think Whitewater — the 2015 state champ — is going to take the title this season.

DIVISION 4: SEMIFINALS – Oshkosh Lourdes over Durand; Aquinas over Neillsville. FINAL: Lourdes over Aquinas.

Ricardo says: I’ve been a big fan of Oshkosh Lourdes throughout the season and have voted it the top squad in D4 every week in the Associated Press poll. The Knights’ lone loss this season came to D1 powerhouse Middleton and they also beat Germantown, a D1 top seed with a 20-2 record. I pick them to knock off Aquinas in an all-private school final. Neillsville, by the way, has the best small-school band around.

DIVISION 5: SEMIFINALS – Newman Catholic over Bangor; Clayton over Milwaukee Academy of Science. FINAL: Clayton over Newman Catholic.

Ricardo says: Clayton has received my No. 1 vote the past several weeks. Newman Catholic has played an impressive schedule for a D5 team, including wins over D4 ranked team Marathon and Wausau West, a D1 school. It wouldn’t surprise me, however, if Milwaukee Academy of Science shocks everybody and wins it all.

Undefeated Xavier leads boys’ seedings

The Xavier boys’ basketball team has put up some pretty impressive numbers on offense this season.

The Hawks (21-0) are averaging 79.2 points per game and are the top scoring team heading into the Division 3 playoffs. But it’s the team’s improving defense that head coach Matt Klarner thinks will be a critical component with the WIAA playoffs starting next week.

Xavier was awarded a top seed in Division 3 and headlines a quartet of top seeds from the area that also includes Kimberly (D1), Shiocton (D4) and Hilbert (D5).

“I feel like early in the season we were scoring a lot of points and playing a lot of high-scoring games,” Klarner said. “But as the season has come along, I think our defense has improved and defensive toughness is where I want it to be. We’ve also been rebounding very well and those things are going to pay off for us in the postseason.”

Hunter Plamann leads Xavier in scoring at 20.9 per game, with Sam Ferris (13.6) and Nate DeYoung (12.2) giving the Hawks an impressive 1-2-3 punch.

Xavier has reached the state tournament the past two seasons and lost in the final seconds in last year’s championship game against Waupun.

“I think we knew we had a talented group coming back and we expected to be good,” Klarner said. “But I don’t know if we expected to be 21-0. I think the kids have played together really well since the beginning of the year and even going back to last summer. And the defense has come along with it.”

Other notable designations include Little Chute and Freedom a two and four seed, respectively in D3. Kaukauna is a third seed in Division 2 and Neenah is a four seed in D1.

Neenah coach Lee Rabas pointed out to three regional semifinal matchups between FVA teams in the Marshfield sectional, including the Rockets’ game with Appleton East on March 3.

“The (seed) meeting was interesting and obviously it’s very territorial,” Rabas said. “The coaches out at the Big Rivers think their teams are world beaters and the people in the Valley think they’re pretty good, too. And obviously us here, we think we’re pretty good, too. It is what it is.

“The thing I don’t like about it is that it’s like a conference tournament the first round for everybody because everybody is playing a conference opponent with 16 teams open up like that. Last year, I liked the first round because everybody was playing teams from a different league and our league fared pretty well, even on road games. Now that part is done and it’s up to us to prove our worth on the court.”

Dietzen a Badger

Kimberly junior defense lineman Boyd Dietzen announced on Twitter that he has verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin.

Dietzen was a first-team all-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin defensive lineman and finished with 15 sacks on the season. He also received offers from Syracuse, Minnesota, Northern Illinois and North Dakota State.

Kimberly senior quarterback Danny Vanden Boom is also a UW commit along with senior offensive lineman Logan Bruss. The Badgers roster also has Kimberly grad Bret Verstegen, a redshirt freshman safety.

This week

Player Profile: New London girls’ basketball player Leah Porath talks about her great individual season as well as the Bulldogs’ upcoming postseason. For Thursday online and in print.

Varsity Roundtable: The state’s only online high school sports talk show welcomes state wrestling qualifiers Bryce Herlache of Wrightstown and Scott Cook of New London at 7 p.m. Wednesday on

Livestream: The USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin livestream team of Brett Christopherson, Jim Rosandick and yours truly travels to Oshkosh North tonight for Round 2 of their boys’ basketball matchup this season with Kimberly. Coverage starts at 7 p.m. on

Next week

The Chatter makes its predictions for the upcoming WIAA boys’ basketball postseason.

Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-7191 or; on Twitter @PCRicardo


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