The Central boys basketball team will begin its bid for a return-trip to the WIAA Division-2 State Tournament with a No. 1 regional seed in its possession.
But the road to get to the Kohl Center in Madison is hardly a smooth one.
In what could arguably be one of the toughest regional brackets this year, it was the Falcons who emerged as the top pick, according to voting results from statewide coaches’ meetings Sunday.
Central (18-1) will open its tournament run with a 7 p.m. regional semifinal Friday, March 1, against either eighth-seeded Waterford (5-15) or ninth-seeded Milton (4-17).
The Falcons enter play this week ranked fifth in Division-2 by WisSports.net.
Wilmot (14-5) drew the fourth seed and hosts Rock Valley Conference foe and fifth-seeded Jefferson (14-6) in a semifinal March 1. The winners face off in the regional final the following night.
The other half of the bracket includes second-seeded East Troy (16-1), ranked eighth in the state, and third-seeded Elkhorn (10-2).
Those teams could meet as early as a regional final March 2.
Here are the rest of the pairings for the regional, with all games beginning at 7 p.m.:
Indian Trail drew the highest regional seed with the ninth slot and will travel to eighth-seeded Racine Horlick for a semifinal matchup March 1.
The Hawks enter play this week at 12-8, while Horlick is 9-12. The winner faces either top-seeded Madison East (19-1), 16th-seeded Lake Geneva Badger (4-15) or 17th-seeded Beloit Memorial (3-17) in a regional final March 2.
Bradford (6-15) drew the 14th seed and travels to Madison LaFollette (14-5) March 1, with the winner facing either sixth-seeded Middleton (13-8) or 11th-seeded Janesville Craig (10-10) in a March 2 regional final.
The tournament run begins Tuesday, Feb. 26, for 15th-seeded Tremper (7-14), which hosts 18th-seeded Janesville Parker (2-18). The winner travels to second-seeded Racine Park (15-3) on March 1.
Madison East is ranked second in Division-1 by WisSports.net, while Park is ranked eighth. Those two could meet in a sectional final Saturday, March 9, at Waunakee, with a trip to the state tournament at stake.
Both 10th-seeded Shoreland Lutheran (5-15) and 12th-seeded Reuther (8-12) will open regional play Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Shoreland travels to seventh-seeded St. Francis (11-9), with the winner traveling to second-seeded Racine St. Catherine’s (18-3) for a regional semifinal Friday, March 1.
Reuther plays at fifth-seeded Lake Mills (15-5) in its opener. The winner faces either fourth-seeded Lakeside Lutheran (15-3) or 13th-seeded Clinton (1-17) on March 1.
The top seed in the bracket is Greendale Martin Luther (17-3), currently ranked No. 1 in Division-3. St. Catherine’s is ranked third.
Those teams could meet at St. Catherine’s in a sectional semifinal Thursday, March 7.
St. Joseph, the seventh seed, and Christian Life, the 12th seed, will play in opening-round contests Feb. 26.
The Lancers (5-14) host 10th-seeded Destiny (3-15), with the winner traveling to second-seeded Racine Prairie (12-8) in a regional semifinal March 1.
Christian Life (0-20) travels to fifth-seeded HOPE Christian (9-10) Feb. 26. The winner travels to fourth-seeded Racine Lutheran (10-10) on March 1.
Milwaukee Academy of Science drew the regional’s top seed at 12-9.
For complete brackets, visit www.wiaawi.org.