(Update: Doors open at PHS at 6 p.m, no presale of tickets) Three county boys teams in regional semis, Aquinas' Koening to play against PHSBronson Koenig, one of the top prep basketball players in the country along with just Wisconsin, may not be 100 percent due to a hand injury but he's suiting up tonight to help his defending state champion La Crosse Aquinas squad take on Prescott, one of three Pierce County teams in action in this evening in WIAA regional semifinals.
Bronson Koenig, one of the top prep basketball players in the country along with just Wisconsin, may not be 100 percent due to a hand injury but he's suiting up tonight to help his defending state champion La Crosse Aquinas squad take on Prescott, one of three Pierce County teams in action in this evening in WIAA regional semifinals. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. in the PHS gymnasium.
The UW-Madison bound junior point guard only scored eight points in his first game back from injury and illness Tuesday against Viroqua but his presence provided the Blugolds a big lift in a 77-42 win.
Prescott head coach Nick Johnson said even at 75 percent Koenig is still pretty darn good.
"Just by looking at videotape and talking to coaches from the La Crosse area we know he's the real deal and even not at full health he is a tremendous basketball player," Johnson said. "And he has good teammates around him so beating Aquinas will be a tremendous challenge."
Without Koenig for the second half of the season Aquinas dropped to 10-12 overall and received a No. 6 seed. However it should be pointed out Aquinas plays in a league (Mississippi Valley Conference) against mostly Division 2 schools, including one of the best teams in the state in Onalaska. They also played a tough non-conference schedule against schools like Whitefish Bay Dominican, Rockford, Ill. East, Eden Prairie, Minn., Eau Claire Regis, Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln, and Madison Edgewood.
Johnson said the Cardinal need to be able to run to win the game.
"Not having played as much he (Koenig) does get fatigued so we have to be able to play our game and get up and down the court," Johnson said. "They like to run too so I think it's going to be a fast paced game."
Before his injury Koenig was averaging 19.4 points per game. Teammate Quinn McCarthy and Nolan Ritter both average near 10 points per game.
Prescott enters the game 17-5 overall and the No. 3 seed. If they win they will take on either No. 2 seed Westby or No. 7 Ellsworth, who is coming off its first first-round win in four years Tuesday over Durand 50-35.
Westby, like Prescott had a first-round bye. The Norsemen went 8-4 (17-5 overall) in the hypercompetitive Coulee Conference this season. They have five players averaging between eight and 11 points a game led by senior guard Hemran Feller's 11.2 ppg. The Norse and junior-senior dominated team and they also have a big center too in 6-7 junior Jordan Campbell.
Saturday's regional final game will take place at gym of the team with the best remaining seed with the tip-off again at 7 p.m. You have to go back to 1999 for the last time EHS was in a regional final while Prescott made it that far back in 2009.
Elmwood is also in the regional semis and the No. 5 seeded Raiders take on the No. 4 seed Gilmanton in Gilmanton. The Panthers, 18-3 overall, beat Elmwood earlier this season in a close and exciting 68-66 contest. Gilmanton won the Dairyland Conference Small Division with an 11-2 record led by senior forward Brady Serum's 16 points per game along with senior guard Dustin Oseau's 14 points per game.
Raider head coach Chris Segerstrom said turnovers will be a decisive factor in his team's fortunes.
"We have kids who can put ball in the basket but they cannot do so if they don't have it," Segerstrom said. "Lots of turnovers would mean a lot of trouble for us. We have to keep those down."
Indeed, in all of their five losses this season Elmwood has had over 10 turnovers.
The winner of this contest in Gilmanton's band-box gymnasium will take on either No. 1 seed and No. 6 ranked Chippewa Falls McDonell, 21-2 overall, led one of the state's best small school athletes in Kyle Cody, averaging 21 points per game, or No. 9 seeded Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran, 14-7 overall.