The Wisconsin state high school boys’ basketball tournament tips off this week with teams across the state looking to make history by hoisting the gold ball in Madison next month.  We continue our look at the tournament with a look at the Division 2 tournament and some top players who should make an impact…

Note – Everything will be listed in alphabetical order

SEE ALSO
WIAA STATE TOURNAMENT – DIVISION 1 PREVIEW

LA CROSSE CENTRAL
The Mississippi Valley Conference champions are only a year removed from being the reigning Division 2 state champions and a number of the key pieces from that team are still in place.  Their junior trio of Jonathan Davis, Jordan Davis, and Terrance Thompson is very good and they combine that with some solid role players like senior Noah Parcher to form a highly talented group of players.  A blowout loss to Brookfield Central in December really seemed to set them straight and they’ve been very good and very dominant ever since.  They are a legitimate threat to capture the state championship at the Division 2 level as they have the experience, the talent, the athleticism, and the depth to do it.

WHY LA CROSSE CENTRAL WILL WIN
Again teams may take them lightly and walk in thinking they should win and Central will simply to what they do and produce across the board.  If Thompson can power in double doubles with consistency and Jonathan Davis can play to his highest level they will have a chance, then mix in some solid production from Parcher and Jordan Davis and that’s the resume for Central.  A balanced attack that controls the glass and competes on every possession is the receipt for them to have a chance.  

WHY LA CROSSE CENTRAL WON’T WIN
They’ll show up for a game and play like they did against Brookfield Central.  If they come out without energy or don’t pass the ball and create balance they will have difficulty running the table.

MILWAUKEE WASHINGTON
There are times they look the part and then others when they don’t but on paper they should easily challenge for the Division 2 state title if they play to their best.  They have an experienced group that’s been to Madison each of the past two years and they have one of the best players in the country in 2021 F Michael Foster.  And yes Foster is the best player and the best prospect on that team so if he’s not there they don’t have a chance and that reality needs to set in stone.  When you game plan you start with Foster as his athleticism, size, toughness, and overall ability to impact that game is in the same conversation at times as other highly regarded prospects in the state and the country for that matter.  After Foster senior Deontay Long can score in bunches and recent transfer Tre White has the ability to score and create at a high level giving Washington some more balance to their attack.  Sophomore Chianti Clay Jr. and senior Johntae Martin are quality role players who can make some solid things happen as well for the Purgolders.

WHY MILWAUKEE WASHINGTON WILL WIN
Michael Foster will take his game to another level and the balance around him will buy in and play together as a team making Washington very difficult to defend and cover.  If White, Long, Foster, and the role players really dial in as a group on both ends of the court they are a serious threat to win the title.

WHY MILWAUKEE WASHINGTON WON’T WIN
Agendas will surface and individualism will take over making them one dimensional and easy to defend.  Whether it be defensive effort, sharing the basketball, or simply not making good decisions with the basketball amongst other things Washington will not play to their potential and when that happens they’re beatable.  

NICOLET
The best team in the state and a top 10 team nationally going into the state tournament, Nicolet has passed every in-state test that’s come their way so far.  Juniors Jalen Johnson and Jamari Sibley power the attack and sophomore Kobe Johnson has been special at times as well.  Senior Sonny Phinisee has also been a very solid role player as well this season and in recent games sophomore James Graham III has added a new dimension to the team offensively.  At their best they’re versatile, athletic, balanced, and unselfish and the best team in the state.

WHY NICOLET WILL WIN
They will play to their potential, lock up defensively, make good decisions with the basketball, and the trio of the Johnson brothers and Sibley will produce at a high level consistently allowing them to create separation and run the table.  If they stay the course, compete every possession, and stay focused on both ends they’ll win.  

WHY NICOLET WON’T WIN
Boredom will set in in that they’ve been dominant all season and won’t be totally locked in one game causing them to miss shots and maybe have extra turnovers which will allow a team to stay in the game and believe they can win.  Foul trouble to either of their key players or someone stepping out of their role and trying to be the guy at key moments would be something that negatively impacts them as well.  

WESTOSHA CENTRAL
A team that quietly slipped below the radar all season long but currently sits at 21-1 and has been dominant in recent weeks.  Senior Jaeden Zackery powers the attack but fellow seniors Dylan Anderson, Adam Simmons, and Joey Michelau are solid contributors as well for this experienced group.  Freshman Jack Rose is one of the better ones in the state and collectively they are a team that will execute with efficiency and compete on every possession.  While everyone is talking about Nicolet, Washington, and even La Crosse Central, this team is talented, experienced, and dangerous and could make a deep run.

WHY WESTOSHA CENTRAL WILL WIN
Guys will take their games to another level and teams with more talent, size, etc. will take them for granted and allow them to stay in the game and they’ll find a way to win down the stretch.

WHY WESTOSHA CENTRAL WON’T WIN
For them to win it will take a Hoosiers type run for them as the Division 2 bracket is super loaded.  In the end the size, athleticism, and depth of a few of the powerhouses in the tournament will eventually be too much to overcome.  

FIVE IMPACT PLAYERS TO PLAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO
Jonathan Davis – 2020 – SG – La Crosse Central

An athletic scoring wing with an ability to score at multiple levels, Davis is a Division 1 prospect with an ability to put the team on his back.  If he gets it going he’s fun to watch and he has the ability to carry Central a long way.  

Michael Foster – 2021 – F – Milwaukee Washington
A special talent who has that alpha type quality at times that makes him very difficult to deal with on both ends of the court.  Foster’s the type you want with you when it matters as his athleticism, instincts, and skill set make him one of the very best in the country regardless of class.

Jalen Johnson – 2020 – G/F – Nicolet
Arguably the top junior in the country Johnson is a walking triple double who can dominate a game on the glass, creatively, or simply scoring the basketball.  His size, versatility, and instincts are among the best in the country and his unselfish approach to the game makes the game easy for his teammates.  He’s an extremely difficult cover when he’s at his best.

Jamari Sibley – 2020 – F – Nicolet
Another high major prospect with multiple high major offers, Sibley can finish at every level and his versatility combined with his ability to defend and dominate on the glass and scoring gives Nicolet another high major talent to account for alongside Jalen Johnson.  

A.J. Vukovich – 2020 – G/F – East Troy
A two sport star that no one talks about, Vukovich can play and the Louisville baseball commit can score from multiple levels at a high level.  He has the ability to put the team on his back and take over a game and if he gets on a roll East Troy can make a deep run.  

SLEEPERS
EAST TROY

A 20-1 team that no one is talking about who grabbed a #2 seed, East Troy is led by junior A.J. Vukovich who can really play.  Senior Michael Polakoski averages over 20 points a contest alongside Vukovich and junior guard Quinten Lottig can play as well.  This is a team no one wants to play and they could easily end up in Madison if they well.  

GREEN BAY SOUTHWEST
Another team who had a really good season and no one really talks about, Southwest has four guys averaging over or near double figures and senior Will Pytleski is the alpha at over 20 points a game.  Size wise and athletically they don’t match the other teams but they play together, have shown an ability to win consistently, and they are a team who could pull off a huge upset deep in the tournament if someone takes them lightly.  

MILWAUKEE BAY VIEW
Coach Longley did a heck of a job and in all likelihood if Washington didn’t add White from Texas at the 11th hour of the season Bay View probably would’ve been the sole City Conference champion this season. They compete, play hard, play together, and they fight for every possession.  They have five players averaging over double figures led by Kevin Cook, Malcolm Pickett, etc. and junior Shelton Williams-Dryden.  A sectional final showdown with Milwaukee Washington is a possibility and trust me when I tell you don’t be surprised if Bay View were to win that game as they have the balance, coaching, and toughness to do it.  They have no pressure and nothing to lose if they play one of the favorites.  

MILWAUKEE MADISON
Coach Greer grabbed a 5 seed but he deserved higher and a possible sectional semi-final matchup with Nicolet could be a really good game and tough test for the Knights.  Madison is well coached, they play hard, and like Bay View they have nothing to lose and no pressure.  Senior Kyran Gaines is a problem and sophomore Brandon Leach is as well and they lead four guys averaging in double figures scoring this season.  Do not take this team lightly as they could pull off an upset if not respected.  

MOUNT HOREB
A 19-3 group that plays together and has some solid balance, senior Jason Larson powers an attack that also is bolstered by senior Gunnar Nortman.  They’re a threat to make a deep run and if taken lightly they could shock one of the favorites.  

ONALASKA
I really like this team but to what extent I don’t totally know.  They have a little bit of everything and junior forward Tyrell Stuttley is a matchup problem for most teams.  Junior Carson Arenz is solid, sophomore Sam Kick can fill it up, and sophomore big man Gavin McGrath has really taken some solid strides forward this season as well.  All together they have a solid coach and a deep and talented group and if they get clicking on all cylinders a trip to Madison and a deep run in the tournament is not out of the question.  

PROJECTION
Final Four in Madison – Nicolet, La Crosse Central, Mil Washington, East Troy

State Championship – Nicolet over Milwaukee Washington