Milton girls could challenge perennial powers Verona, Parker in Craig Sectional
Tim Beggs has a preview of the action getting underway Tuesday night.
Milton High’s girls basketball team may be a perfect fit as the No. 3 seed in the Janesville Craig Sectional.
The Red Hawks complete an interesting triangle in a Division 1 sectional that has been a two-team battle between Verona and Janesville Parker the last two years.
Verona (19-3) and Parker
(17-5) still are there as the No. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively. Meanwhile, Milton steps up with a 20-2 team that is separated from an undefeated season only by a pair of losses to once-beaten Monroe (21-1), the top-ranked team in the AP Division 2 poll.
Parker holds the record at 12 for most state appearances in any division, but the Vikings have lost the sectional title game to Verona the last two years. Many may anticipate it coming down to another rematch between those schools, who split a pair of Big Eight Conference games this season.
But if there’s any question whether Milton can compete with the best among the big schools, the Red Hawks answered it three years ago in winning this sectional and making the coveted trip to state.
“It’s tough to compare those teams,” Milton coach Scott Randall said of his 2010 Red Hawks and the 2007 state qualifiers. “This is a different mix of kids, with different roles and different talent. We’re probably a little more balanced.’’
However, Milton is led by Badger South scoring champion Liz Eide, a 6-2 junior post player with 13-point average. Big Eight co-champion Verona counters with Ali Tackett (12.5), a possible University of Wisconsin walk-on, and 5-7 junior Danielle Flood has stepped up with a 15.7 average in leading Parker to another strong season under Tom Klawitter.
“We’re not a Parker or Verona,’’ Randall said of his Red Hawks. “They’re the favorites, but we’re not afraid of them.
“Our team is a good mix of young and old, and I think we’re in a great spot,” he said of the tournament seed. “But you’ve still got to win the games.”
The games begin at 7 tonight, with Verona and Parker in their usual spots as the top seeds—sitting on the sidelines with first-round byes.
Milton opens at home with a regional semifinal game against 14th-seeded Burlington (4-18) in the sectional’s lower bracket. The winner plays sixth-seeded Beloit Memorial (9-13) or 11th-seeded Wilmot (7-15) in Saturday’s regional finals.
Parker also is in the lower bracket and will host seventh-seeded Stoughton
(10-12) or 10th-seeded Oregon (10-12) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Craig (8-14), which just broke a seven-game losing streak, is in the sectional’s upper bracket. The ninth-seeded Cougars have a regional semifinal tonight at Kenosha against eighth-seeded Tremper (9-13), with winner advancing to Verona for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday.
If the top seeds advance, Verona would face No. 4 Westosha Central
(13-9) in the first sectional semifinal game on Friday, March 19, at Craig. Parker would play Milton in the second game.
The Saturday, March 29, sectional final at Craig will produce one of eight Division 1 qualifiers for the March 25-27 state tournament, which returns to the Kohl Center for the first time since 2005.
At this point, though, it’s simply a matter of “just taking it one game at a time,’’ Randall said, with a familiar pre-tournament ring that comes from almost every coach.