When, where: Thursday through Saturday, Resch Center, Ashwaubenon.
Tickets: $10 per session; available at the door.
Parking: $6 per car at adjacent Lambeau Field.
On the air: Every game will be carried live by a statewide television network, including Ch. 27 in Madison, and streamed live on participating stations’ websites and the “Magic of March” app.
For the first time, the tournament field was seeded by participating coaches. For semifinals, the top-seeded team was paired to meet the fourth-seeded team, and the second-seeded team was paired with the third-seeded team.
Division 3 semifinals: (1) Marshall (25-1) vs. (4) Wisconsin Dells (25-1), 1:35 p.m.; (2) Amherst (25-1) vs. (3) Milwaukee St. Thomas More (21-5), 3:15 p.m.
Division 4 semifinals: (1) La Crosse Aquinas (26-0) vs. (4) Crandon (22-2), 6:35 p.m.; (2) Melrose-Mindoro (26-0) vs. (3) Manitowoc Lutheran (21-4), 8:15 p.m.
Division 5 semifinals: (1) Black Hawk (27-0) vs. (4) Wausau Newman (21-6), 9:05 a.m.; (2) Bangor (24-3) vs. (3) Clayton (24-3), 10:45 a.m.
Division 2 semifinals: (1) Beaver Dam (23-2) vs. (4) Hortonville (20-6), 1:35 p.m.; (2) Monroe (24-2) vs. (3) New Berlin Eisenhower (23-3), 3:15 p.m.
Division 1 semifinals: (1) Hartland Arrowhead (24-2) vs. (4) Appleton North (22-4), 6:35 p.m.; (2) Mukwonago vs. (3) Oak Creek), 8:15 p.m.
3-point Challenge: 9:30 a.m. The top two players in each WIAA division were invited, based on their 3-point field goal shooting percentage during the regular season. Selected were: Division 1 — Justice Filip, sr., Madison East (a semifinalist last year), and Christine Fortune, so., Appleton West; Division 2 — Laijanique Perry-Ellis, jr., Milwaukee Washington, and Hannah Belanger, jr., Grafton; Division 3 — Mackenzie Correll, jr., Maple Northwestern, and Molly Schmitz, jr., Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau; Division 4 — Carley Elmhorst, sr., Colby, and Lexi Schmidtknecht, sr., Cochrane-Fountain City; Division 5 — Brooke Hopkins, sr., Plainfield Tri-County, and Cara Miller, jr., Prairie Farm.
Championship games: Division 5, 11:05 a.m.; Division 4, 1 p.m.; Division 3, 3 p.m.; Division 2, 6:35 p.m.; Division 1, 8:30 p.m.
Hartland Arrowhead surrendered the No. 1 state ranking after a 59-49 loss to Mukwonago in the next-to-last game of the regular season left both teams tied for the Classic 8 Conference title. For coach Rick Witte’s Warhawks, the loss ended a 19-game winning streak after a season-opening loss to Oak Creek. Arrowhead beat top-ranked Milwaukee King 83-60 during its winning streak. The Warhawks’ senior-heavy lineup is led by 6-foot-1 post Caitlyn Harper (14.8 points per game, 7.0 rebounds) and 5-10 senior guard Megan Peterson (10.5 ppg, 80 assists). Senior point guard Karissa Hucke averages 7.4 ppg.
Appleton North is the defending state champion and was ranked fourth by The Associated Press, but is seeded fourth in the four-team state field. Coach Joe Russom’s Lightning lost to Florida opponents Oxbridge Academy and Boca Raton during a holiday trip, and also lost to Appleton East and Milwaukee King. The Fox Valley Association champs take a 10-game winning streak to state, with those 10 wins coming by an average of 24 points. Sydney Levy, a 5-8 senior guard and UW-Milwaukee recruit, averages 18.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg and has made 65 3-pointers. The point guard is 5-5 senior Kari Brekke (12.8 ppg, 93 assists).
Mukwonago took over the No. 1 state ranking after knocking off Arrowhead, avenging an earlier 49-47 loss to the Warhawks, but drew the No. 2 state seeding in a vote of coaches. Though coach Rick Kolinske’s team has no senior starters and only one senior on the roster, the team has four returning starters and takes a 14-game winning streak to the Resch Center. The hot streak includes sectional wins over Janesville Parker and Madison East. Mukwonago’s other loss was a 61-59 decision to Milwaukee King in the second game of the year. Natalie Anderson, a 6-0 junior forward and the Classic 8 Player of the Year, averages 16.5 ppg and 5.7 rpg. Junior point guard Grace Beyer (14.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 92 assists) runs the offense. Angie Cera, a 5-11 sophomore guard (11.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg) has provided scoring punch, as has 5-8 junior guard Kat Lopez (9.1 ppg).
Oak Creek, ranked seventh, has come on strong after a 62-53 loss to Kimberly and takes an 11-game winning streak to state. In the sectional final, the six-time Southeast Conference champion Knights avenged a regular-season loss to Milwaukee King with a 66-57 victory, and beat Arrowhead in the season opener. The lineup features 10 seniors, directed by 5-5 senior point guard Haley Zylka (5.1 ppg, 145 assists). The top scorers are 5-10 senior wing Kassandra Bartek (12.9 ppg), who has made 65 3-pointers at a 43.0-percent clip, and 5-9 junior wing Maddie Gard (11.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg).
Beaver Dam lost three key seniors from last year’s state championship team, but coach Tim Chase worked in some extremely talented younger players and built a team that has held the No. 1 state ranking all season. The Badger North Conference champion Golden Beavers’ only losses came to Maine West of Des Plaines, Illinois, and in overtime to Hopkins, Minnesota. Beaver Dam needed a late steal to win a physical 43-41 battle against third-ranked Milwaukee Vincent in a sectional semifinal. The Beavers have averaged 74.5 points and allowed 40.8. The balanced scoring attack features six players who average 7.0 points or more, led by 5-11 junior forward Tara Stauffacher (11.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg), who has orally committed to the University of Wisconsin, and 5-10 freshman guard Matyson Wilke (11 ppg, 4.4 rpg). Paige Schumann, a 5-6 junior point guard, has 124 assists.
Hortonville, ranked 11th, fought through losing streaks of three and two games to defeat Marshfield and sixth-ranked Onalaska in sectional play, earning its second consecutive state trip. Coach Celeste Ratka (formerly Hoewisch), who starred at Hortonville and UW-Green Bay, had to miss the Marshfield game after giving birth to a baby girl the day before. The Polar Bears finished third, against mostly Division 1 opposition, in the tough Fox Valley Association. Shay Frederick, a 5-6 senior guard (16.1 ppg) has made 76 3-pointers on 40 percent long-range shooting, while 6-2 sophomore Macy McGlone (14.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg) handles the inside. Hailey Wenzel, a 5-8 sophomore guard (8.3 ppg), is the defensive stopper.
Monroe returns to state with the No. 4 ranking and a perfect record in the tough Badger South Conference. The Cheesemakers lost to three-time defending Illinois state champion Morton and by 29 points to Beaver Dam in a Badger crossover game, and take a 11-game winning streak to state after powering past Stoughton and Jefferson in the sectional. Junior point guard Sydney Hilliard, who is being recruited by every NCAA Division I program in the state (among others), averages 22.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, with 67 steals, 65 assists and a 61.6 percent shooting average. Junior guard Emily Benzschawel averages 14.8 points and 4.8 rebounds with a team-high 76 assists. Coach’s daughter Sydney Mathiason (6-1, sr., F, 10.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg) also is a returning starter.
New Berlin Eisenhower, ranked fifth, won the 2016 state title and finished second in 2012 and 2013. Coach Gary Schmidt’s Lions lost only to Monroe, Beaver Dam and Division 1 power Sun Prairie, and beat Division 1 top-ranked Milwaukee King in a midseason test. The offense is run by Julia Hintz, a 5-8 junior guard (14.2 ppg, 133 assists) and 6-0 senior forward Hannah Plockelman (13.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg). Sophomore 6-3 forward Erin Hedman (6.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) has come on strong late in the season.
Marshall earned the No. 1 seeding and is ranked No. 4 by The Associated Press under first-year coach Alex Koeller, who led the Cardinals to their first state trip since winning the first two WIAA state tournaments in 1976 and 1977. The Capitol South Conference champion Cardinals lost their regular-season finale to Lakeside Lutheran 78-72 but blasted the Warriors in the sectional final 61-39. Freshman point guard Mia Morel is a do-it-all player (17.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 148 assists, 111 steals) who runs the offense and triggers the defense. Three other players average in double figures: 6-0 freshman forward Anna Lutz (11.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg), 5-11 freshman forward Laura Nickel (11.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and the only senior starter, 5-5 guard Samira Arvin (10.8 ppg). “We are young, but we’ve matured along the way. We’re 26 games in now,” Koeller said.
Wisconsin Dells played under the radar all season, not appearing in the state rankings until late in the season and beating Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau and Hayward in the sectional to earn the program’s first state trip. Fifth-year coach Bob Buss’ Chiefs lost only to Reedsburg, in the second game of the year, and swept through the South Central Conference season. The scoring leaders are junior wing Katelyn Meister (5-10, jr., 19.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and senior guard Jenna Mace (5-4, G, 18.1 ppg). Buss emphasizes defense, and the Chiefs have allowed only 37.7 points per game — not allowing 50 points in a game since Jan. 2 — while averaging 61.9.
Amherst, at No. 3, is the highest-ranked team in the field after winning the Central Wisconsin Large Conference title and beating second-ranked Wrightstown in the sectional semifinal. The Falcons take a 23-game winning streak to state after losing to top-ranked Laconia in the third game of the year. Coach Gregg Jensen is in his fourth year leading the Falcons girls program after leading the boys for since 1984. The Falcons average 65.7 points per game, led by hard-working inside players Heather Pearson (6-1, sr., C, 16.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and Lauren Boelte (5-9, jr., F, 12.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg). Junior point guard Grace Moe, who suffered a broken leg in last year’s sectional semifinal, leads the team with 142 assists.
Milwaukee St. Thomas More comes in unranked, but the Cavaliers stunned top-ranked Laconia 63-40 in the sectional final after beating fifth-ranked Kettle Moraine Lutheran in the semifinal. Coach Bryan Krysiak’s team finished second behind Greendale Martin Luther in the Metro Classic Conference. Each of the team’s five losses came against teams in the top 10 in their division in the state rankings. The top scorer is senior point guard and school career scoring leader Brianna Flater (15.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 53 3-pointers), followed by 6-1 senior forward and Division II Maryville recruit Taylor Kirby (12.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and 5-9 freshman guard Lindsay Kirby (10.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg).
Top-ranked La Crosse Aquinas, last year’s state runner-up, has held the No. 1 ranking all season, winning the Mississippi Valley Conference and negotiating a tough schedule against large-school powers such as Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels, Madison Edgewood, Waukesha North and Des Moines (Iowa) Dowling. Coach Dave Donarski’s Blugolds lost 44-43 to Howards Grove in the state final. “We were good last year, and we have taken some steps forward this year in terms of maturity and quality of play,” Donarski said. The coach’s daughter, 5-10 sophomore guard Lexi Donarski, committed to Iowa State as an eighth-grader and leads the balanced lineup (15.5 ppg, 76 assists). Sophomore 6-0 forward Courtney Becker (10.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg) powers the inside, and 5-9 senior forwards Whittni Rezin (10.1 ppg) and Kyah Steiner (9.2 ppg) also provide offense.
Unranked Crandon has no seniors in its lineup, but grew as a team over the course of the year, beating sixth-ranked Shiocton and fifth-ranked Marathon in sectional play to take a 17-game winning streak to its first state trip. First-year Cardinals coach Keegan Kincaid depends on guards Tabitha Renkas (5-5, so., 13.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Alexa Neilitz (5-6, jr., 11.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 68 assists) to run the show. Crandon lost to Division 5 state qualifier Wausau Newman and to Elcho, tying for the Northern Lakes Conference title.
Melrose-Mindoro has emerged from some tough tournament battles, including a 52-49 battle against Eau Claire Regis in the regional final, to earn the school’s first state trip. Coach Joey Arneson’s second-ranked Mustangs average 71 ppg with an up-tempo style, quarterbacked by speedy, 5-8 sophomore point guard Calette Lockington (11.6 ppg, 100 assists). Other scoring leaders are 5-10 junior forward Erika Simmons (14.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Katie Christopherson (5-6, jr., G, 13.9 ppg). Sophomore 6-0 guard-forward Emily Herzberg (12.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) already has made an oral commitment to South Dakota State. Mesa Byon, a 6-1 sophomore post (11.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg), also has drawn Division I offers.
Manitowoc Lutheran is making its first WIAA state appearance with a deep and balanced lineup. The leader is 6-2 junior forward Emily Behnke (11.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg), who has overcome late-season ankle troubles. Grace Melso, a 5-8 junior guard, shoots 45.7 percent from 3-point range and averages 11.4 ppg. Coach Michael Behnke’s 11th-ranked Lancers, co-champs of the Big East Conference beat ninth-ranked Milwaukee Academy of Science in the sectional final after regular-season losses to Shiocton, Random Lake, Howards Grove and Oostburg.
Black Hawk enters with the No. 1 seeding and No. 1 state ranking, with four seniors forming a strong nucleus atop an otherwise very young lineup. Coach Mike Flanagan’s Warriors have averaged 68.3 points while allowing only 27.8 points. Only three opponents have scored more than 40 points against Black Hawk; none have reached the 50-point mark. Bailey Butler, a 5-7 freshman point guard, has run the offense with confidence, averaging 15.8 points with 101 assists through regional play. Natalie Leuzinger, a 5-7 sophomore, leads the team with averages of 17 ppg and 6.0 rpg. Another key performer is guard Hannah Butler (5-7, so., 12.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg).
Wausau Newman starts three sophomores, and 13 of the Cardinals’ 16 varsity players are freshmen or sophomores. Coach Jason Vanden Elzen’s team finished third in the Marawood South Conference and played a difficult schedule that included two losses to league champ Marathon, Wisconsin Rapids Assumption, Wausau West and Rib Lake. Newman took a 64-63 win over Assumption in a regional final and won both sectional games by double figures, including fifth-ranked Plainfield Tri-County. Signe Fronek, a 5-10 senior forward, leads the team at 18.2 ppg and adds 5.8 rpg. Julia Seidel (5-10, so., G, 13 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Jadelyn Ganski (5-11, so., F, 12.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg) also average in double figures.
Bangor earned a second consecutive state trip after winning the Scenic Bluffs Conference and sports a 14-game winning streak. Coach Merlin Jones’ Cardinals scored only six second-half points in a 44-24 loss to Loyal last year. This year, Bangor’s losses came to Division 3 sectional finalist Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau and Division 4 state qualifiers La Crosse Aquinas and Melrose-Mindoro. Senior forward and UW-Milwaukee recruit Emma Wittmershaus (16.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg) leads the program on the statistics sheet and on the floor, with seven triple-doubles (including blocked shots); 5-10 senior forward Jaclynn Freit (12.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg) also averages in double figures.
Clayton, ranked sixth by The Associated Press, finished second behind Cameron in the Central Lakeland Conference, which sent four teams to sectional play. Five juniors start for coach Kevin Fall’s Bears, who are making their third consecutive state trip. Returning starters are 5-3 junior point guard (and coach’s daughter) Kiana Fall (8.2 ppg, 126 assists) and scoring leaders Kailey Ketz (5-7, G, 13.1 ppg) and Alison Leslie (5-8, F, 18.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg). The Bears avenged an early loss to Chippewa Falls McDonell with a 34-33 victory in the sectional semifinal. Their other losses came against Cameron. Four Bears (Fall, Ketz, Leslie and Jaedyn Bussewitz) also have made three trips to the Resch Center for state girls volleyball, taking second in 2016 and winning the title last fall.
— Art Kabelowsky