Girls hoops' regional tourneys begin tonightAll five Pierce County girls prep basketball teams will be in action in the first round of WIAA regional tournaments this evening.
All five Pierce County girls prep basketball teams will be in action in the first round of WIAA regional tournaments this evening.
Two of those teams will be in county playing their first round games. No. 7 seed Prescott will host No. 10 seed Black River Falls and No. 6 seed Elmwood hosts No. 11 seed Hillsboro.
For an 11th seed the Tigers of Hillsboro are pretty good. They only finished fifth in a very competitive Scenic Bluffs Conference but they have a 13-9 overall record. They are led by a pair of sharp-shooting guards, juniors Hilary Stanek and Ali Brey, each averaging 15.4 and 10.1 points per game. Another junior guard, C.J. Hofmeister, averages over seven points per game and is the team's third leading scorer.
The top-heavy nature of Elmwood and Plum City's semi-sectional bracket (the top five teams in the Scenic Bluffs all have winning records and the whole sectional bracket has five ranked teams in it) in Division 5 meant match-ups that would pit teams of similar records such as Hillsboro and Elmwood (the Raiders are 15-7), making the seeds only important in terms miles traveled for a Tuesday ballgame. This, plus unfamiliarity of the coaches with the other teams in the bracket outside of one's own conference meant one tough seeding meeting and perhaps lower seeds than perhaps Elmwood and or Plum City would have liked.
"It is what it is," EHS head coach Mike Birtzer said. "You have the play the games regardless of the opponent we feel confident in ourselves given who we've played and how we're playing right now (The Raiders have won their last four in a row and six out of their last seven).
Like Elmwood, PC has been a late roll, winning four in a row. But that only got them to a No. 13 seed and they have to travel the many hours and miles to Wonewoc Center to take on a 19-4 Wolves squad who is the No. 4 seed. This is only the second winning season in the last 10 years for WC. Their top two scorers are 5-3, senior guard Stefanie Kopenhafer and 5-11 junior center Erin Laack.
A win by the Blue Devils could set up a Friday showdown between PC and their rivals Alma/Pepin in Alma if the No. 5 seeded Eagles can down No. 12 seed Brookwood tonight. Elmwood's semifinal opponent will more than likely be No. 14 ranked and third seed Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran, 17-5 overall, in Eau Claire.
Tonight's game will test the theory playing a schedule of mostly Division 3 and 4 schools will give Plum City and Elmwood a leg up in Division 5 competition. Spring Valley doesn't really have that advantage playing in Division 4 dominated Dunn-St. Croix. They take their No. 12 seed to No. 5 Grantsburg, 16-4 overall, tonight. However the Cardinals do have some history on their side as last year a low seeded SV upset a much higher seeded Clear Lake team in the first round. However that Valley team had at least one win going into the tournament compared to zero wins this time around. The winner of this game plays at No. 4 Boyceville, 16-6 overall, on Friday.
In Division 3 Ellsworth, 4-18 overall, has a No. 9 seed in its bracket and plays at Altoona. The Railroaders were just 10-12 overall but played in the usually tough Cloverbelt West Conference where they had an 8-6 record. However, in terms of common opponents, the Railers fared no better than EHS as they both lost to Durand and River Falls. Altoona did beat Amery 37-30 earlier in the season. Altoona's leading scorer is a sophomore, 5-9 foward Courtney Naser with 8.2 points per game. The Rails come into the game having won their last two contests but the Panthers played them tough in their last meeting back in 2010, losing only 53-49 at Altoona in a first round contest as well. The winner will play at the No. 1 seed, No. 6 ranked Westby, 21-1 overall, on Friday.
Prescott would certainly like to win a couple or more as well because they've won no more than two games in a row twice this season.
"We have to show up with our best effort because margin of error not big," PHS head coach Luke Kjelland said. "We have to play our best game every night to advance in the tournament."
Luckily the 6-16 Tigers of Black River Falls have the same problem, having won just two games in a row only once. BRF's leading scorer is 5-6 senior forward Emma Erlandson averaging 12 points per game. The winner of this contest plays at No. 2 seeded La Crosse Aquinas, 16-6 overall, on Friday.