Sun Prairie’s Jayda Jansen (left) and East’s Riley Larson will meet again during the sectional semifinals.
Sports’ biggest month — so big that we attach “Madness” to it — is here. It begins with several area high school girls’ teams vying for spots in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament, March 9-11, at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
In Division 1, Middleton overcame a late surge by defending state champion Verona last weekend to advance to the Sectional #3 semifinals against top-seeded Mukwonago. That game will be played at Madison Memorial High School.
A pair of Big Eight Conference rivals, Madison East and Sun Prairie, will meet in the other Sectional #3 semifinal at Madison La Follette High School. The Cardinals defeated East twice during the regular season and have breezed through the playoffs, winning by margins of 41 (over Kenosha Indian Trail) and 27 (against Muskego).
In Division 2, last year’s state runner-up, Stoughton, has dominated throughout the playoffs, too — beating Baraboo by 32 and Waunakee by 28 — and rides an eight-game winning streak into sectional semifinal action against Badger South Conference rival Monroe at Sun Prairie High School. The Cheesemakers also have crushed their playoff opponents, and these teams are 1-1 against each other in regular-season play, when both games were decided by one or two points. Playoff matchups don’t get better than this.
In a Division 3 sectional semifinal, Edgewood (also plowing through the playoff field) will meet Whitewater at Janesville Craig High School.
Tip-off for all of these sectional semifinal games is March 2 at 7 p.m., with the finals — and a trip to Green Bay on the line — on March 4, at various Big Eight schools. See the WIAA website (wiaawi.org) for specific locations and times.
This is just the beginning: High school sectionals for boys are March 9 and 11 — most likely with several local teams in the mix — and the WIAA boys’ state tournament comes to the Kohl Center from March 16 to 18. Remember when Madison East advanced to state two years ago for the first time in a quarter-century?
That same weekend, the Wisconsin Badgers, despite hitting a rough patch lately, will play in the first and (fingers crossed) second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
If you’re a hoops fan, there’s no better time to be alive.