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Postseason offers excitement
Darlington's Tanner Havens and New Glarus' Sam Broughton
MONROE - With most boys basketball teams ready to tip-off WIAA regional games tonight, Monroe coach Pat Murphy is looking forward to see which team the Cheesemakers will play after receiving a first-round bye as a No. 1 seed in Division 2.

Monroe (17-5), last year's state runner-up, will begin its quest for a fourth-straight Division 2 state tournament run Thursday night when the Cheesemakers play the winner of the Evansville-Platteville.

"Now, you lose and you are done," Murphy said.

Monroe, which won the Badger South for an unprecedented fourth-straight year, will have a tough road in the Verona regional and Waunakee sectional. Brodhead (14-8) opens Verona regional play tonight when the Cardinals host Edgerton. The Cardinals are led by junior J.J. Panoske who averages 22.5 points per game and senior Jacob Cole (11.9).

If Monroe makes a run to the regional championship game, the Cheesemakers would likely play either Brodhead or Mount Horeb.

It's the Waunakee sectional that could get interesting.

The sectional is stacked with several deep teams including River Valley (18-4), the No. 1 seed in the Baraboo regional, Prairie du Chien (17-5) and Wisconsin Dells (16-6). However, one of the hottest teams is Sauk Prairie (16-6), which has won nine-straight games. Sauk Prairie has beat Badger North Conference champion Waunakee 57-50, No. 2 seed Mount Horeb 44-37 and Portage, the No. 1 seed in the Watertwon regional, during that span. The Eagles throttled Prairie du Chien 65-50 in the season opener in the Pioneer Classic in Platteville and they beat Madison Edgewood 62-51 in December. If the Cheesemakers advance to a sectional final, a rematch with Edgewood, or a game against Portage or Delavan-Darien could be in store.

"Our regional is about as wide open as it's ever been," Murphy said. "I learned a valuable lesson years ago if you overlook anybody or think about the next round, you are going to lose."

Monroe junior Bryan Tordoff, who scored 10 points in the Cheesemakers' 42-41 win over Monona Grove to seal an outright conference title Feb. 26, is looking to get back to full strength after injuring his ankle against Freeport Feb. 6, Murphy said.

"He is practicing hard," he said. "I think what Bryan has to do is make other guys better. They all have to play defense and rebound. That's non-negotiatable. We are trying to get him back out there running and shooting at game speed."

Division 3

Monroe regional

The WIAA Division 3 Monroe regional resembles more of a sectional. The regional is stacked with three of the top 11 teams in the Division 3 Associated Press state poll, including No. 2 Cuba City, Darlington (fifth) and Wisconsin Heights (11th).

The big game in the regional quarterfinals tonight is New Glarus (12-10) at Darlington (19-3). The Glarner Knights defeated the Redbirds 72-57 Feb. 2.

"As a coach you worry about a letdown after a big win last Friday," Darlington coach Mike Hopkins said of the Redbirds' 63-53 win over the Cubans that gave them a SWAL co-conference title.

The Redbirds face a tough road if they want to get a third game against Cuba City (21-1) for a regional title and a trip to the sectional. If the Redbirds beat the Knights, they would likely have to play at Wisconsin Heights (19-2) in the regional semifinals. Wisconsin Heights has won 10-straight games.

Hopkins knows that the Redbirds could face an emotional week if they can get to the regional final.

"It's not football where you get physically beat up," Hopkins said. "I just worry about the emotional draining you could have. That's why there are occasional upsets in the tournament. It's just emotionally trying to get up for every game. Teams have to bring their 'A' game as the tournament gets tougher."

For the Redbirds, it all starts with the Knights. The last time the two teams played, New Glarus had four players in double figures led by senior Ryan Bright who scored 25 points. New Glarus has the offensive weapons to pull off an upset if they can get hot shooting from the outside. Bright averages 15.6 points per game. However, the Knights have other weapons in senior Cameron Jeglum (10.4) and sophomore Tyler Kreklow (8.9).

Division 4

Darlington regional

Argyle at Benton

The Orioles face a big challenge playing at top seed Benton, the defending Division 4 state champions.

Argyle (1-20) is led by junior Nate Thomas who averages 11.4 points per game. Matt Savatski leads the Zephyrs scoring 15 points per game.

Shullsburg at Pecatonica

The Vikings have a balanced offensive attack that could carry the team to a win over the Miners.

Pecatonica (12-10) has won four of its last six games, and has proven the team is capable of pulling out tight games. The Vikings beat Potosi 46-36 in December and have won three games by two points each this season.

Pecatonica senior Jeremy Meudt leads the Vikings in scoring (11.4). Seniors Devin Jeglum (9.5) and Jason Meudt (8.8) also can give the Vikings a boost.

Black Hawk at Southwestern

If Black Hawk is going to upset Southwestern, they will need big games from senior guards T.J. Adams and Cody Foster.

Black Hawk (7-15) has lost six of their last seven games. However, that can be deceiving. The Warriors had Six Rivers East co-champion Barneveld, ranked seventh, on the ropes before falling 54-44. In the last six games, the Warriors have lost by six to Juda and three to Argyle.

Adams (15 ppg) and Foster (8.3 ppg) have the ability to shoot the 3-pointer, which could keep the Warriors in the game down the stretch.

Edgerton regional

Juda at Monticello

The Ponies begin their postseason run with the news it will have to play without senior Jacob Marty who will miss the tournament as he has knee surgery today.

"Other guys can step up," Monticello coach Mark Olson said. "We still feel confident that we are a good team."

Monticello (17-3), the Six Rivers East co-champions with Barneveld, will play Juda for the third time this year. Monticello, ranked sixth, swept the season series from Juda and beat the Panthers by 21 points each game.

Monticello looks to be on a collision course to play Racine Lutheran (19-3), ranked fifth, in the regional final.

If the Ponies beat the Panthers, they would play the winner of Williams Bay and Albany in the regional semifinal.

"Our regional has three conference champions in it," Olson said. "It's certainly a tough road to get through."

Olson said the Ponies must be prepared for anything since the Panthers have played man-to-man and zone defenses against them this year.

If the Ponies can reach the sectional, a matchup against Benton or a third game against Barneveld awaits. If the Ponies made a run to the Fort Atkinson sectional championship game, they could face No. 1 ranked Randolph (22-0).

Albany at

Williams Bay

If junior sharpshooter Boomer Detra is back in the lineup, the Comets can have the inside-outside presence to win in the postseason.

Detra along with senior Bryce Hulbert give the Comets (8-14) the balance to attack teams in such a way. Hulbert leads the Comets (14.2 ppg) and Detra averages 11.9 points per game.

Williams Bay (15-6) is the Trailways South Conference champion.

"Albany, knowing how well they are playing at the end of the season, I feel like they have a good chance of winning," Olson said.