A year ago, Madison was accused of not adequately appreciating the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association's annual winter state tournaments and the millions of dollars in revenue they generate. Critics thought we were taking March Madness for granted.
And maybe they were right, just like we take it for granted that a Madison high school - most likely Memorial - will compete in the boys basketball tournament at the Kohl Center each year. But Memorial lost to Mukwonago in the section finals last week, making this the first year since 1999 that a city team won't suit up for state.
So what are we supposed to do now? You can always root for nearby schools like Stoughton (Division 2), Lodi (Division 3), Cuba City (Division 4) and Randolph (Division 5). Or you can just buy your tickets or tune in on TV with an open mind to evaluate the state of basketball in our state, which is pretty good right now.
The 8:15 p.m. game on Thursday, March 7, pits undefeated Cuba City against Dominican from Whitefish Bay in a rematch of last year's Division 4 title game. The Cubans are coached by Jerry Petitgoue, the winningest coach in state history with over 800 victories and three state titles. But Dominican is led by Marquette-bound senior Duane Wilson and sophomore phenom Diamond Stone, who might be the best player in the state.
The sneak-out-of-work special will be played Friday, March 8, at 9 a.m. when Wisconsin recruit Bronson Koenig leads La Crosse Aquinas against Little Chute in the Division 3 semis. But that's really just an appetizer before the big schools take over Friday evening. Germantown, the defending champs, have won 54 straight games and scored in triple digits three times this year. They're led by Luke Fischer, a seven-foot senior headed to Indiana, and junior gunner Jake Showalter, the little brother of Wisconsin freshman Zak Showalter.