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WIAA girls basketball regionals begin tonight

WIAA regional tournaments for girls basketball begin this evening with first round contests.

Only one Pierce County team will host a first round match-up. Prescott, 10-11 overall, the No. 7 seed in its New Richmond Semi-Sectional bracket of the full Division 3 River Falls Sectional, faces the 10th seed, Spooner (8-11), in Prescott with the tip-off at 7 p.m.

Both teams come into tonight's contest having lost their last two ballgames. The Rails' leading scorer is senior guard Sarah Taylor, averaging 12.6 points per game. PHS's top two scorers are npth seniors, point guard Katy Syverson and center Elly Boles. 

The winner of this game will play at No. 2 seed Hayward, 17-2 overall, on Friday. Hayward is one of three top 10 teams in the final Coaches' Poll in D-3 to inhabit the River Falls Sectional. The Hurricanes are ranked No.7, Baldwin-Woodville No. 6 and Arcadia is No. 9 and the favorite to advance from its Osseo-Fairchild Semi-Sectional to the sectional final.

Also in Divison 3, No. 12 seeded Ellsworth is at No. 5 St. Croix Falls. The Panthers (2-19) actually have some momentum going into the playoffs having won their last game 55-47 over Osceola last Thursday. If EHS can find another double-digit scorer to go with Kelsey Betthauser like a Tacia Kuhl, Chelsy Strom, Hayley Stoesz or Brianna DeGross, the chances Ellsworth can knock off the Saints (16-6) will incerase. SCF is led in scoring by  5-10 senior Jessica Rademacher, averaging nearly 19 points a game. St. Croix tied for first in the Lakeland West Conference with Siren and started the season 12-0.  However they've gone 4-6 since and have a 2-4 record against D-3 opponents.  The winniner of this game is at No. 4 seed Somerset (8-13) Friday.

Spring Valley will be at Augusta in its first round match-up.  The Cardinals (6-15) are the No. 10 seed and Augusta (13-8) is No. 7. Augusta finished in the middle of the usually very competitive Cloverbelt East Conference led by 5-5 junior guard Dani Nelson who averages nearly 16 points per game. The winner of this contest travels to the No. 2 seed of the Eau Claire North Semi-Sectional bracket of the Chippewa Falls Sectional and that's Fall Creek (18-4) on Friday.

Meanwhile in Division 5, No. 6 seeded Plum City (6-14) is at No. 3 Alma Center Lincoln (11-9) while No. 8 Elmwood (1-20) is at No. 1 Eleva-Strum (14-8).

PC is the defending regional champion and Eleva-Strum is both the regional tournament runner-up from last season and this season's Dairyland Conference Small Division winner.  Lincoln comes in on a three-game losing streak but bosts the Dairyland Large's leading scorer in senior forward Mikayla Simmons, who averages over 20 points per game.  E-S has the league's leading scorer in the Small Division, senior guard Kara Enos, who averages nearly 17 points per game.

The PC-Lincoln winner will play either the No. 2 seed Independence (13-8) or No. 7 Alma/Pepin (4-15) Friday and the Elmwood/E-S winner will take on either No. 4 seeded Gilmanton (9-11) or No. 5 Cochrane-Fountain City (7-14), also in the semifinals on Friday.

The regional finals for all divisions are this Saturday at 7 p.m. with the lowest remaining seed hosting.