The Central boys basketball team begins its quest to return to the WIAA Division-2 State Tournament for the second straight season when it hosts Waterford in a regional semifinal tonight.
The Falcons are one of six county teams playing regional semifinal games across three divisions tonight. All games begin at 7 p.m.
Central, ranked No. 5 in Division-2 in the latest WisSports.net state coaches poll, has won 15 consecutive games to reach 21-1. The Falcons went 14-0 in the Southern Lakes Conference to capture an undefeated conference title.
They are the No. 1 seed and will host No. 8 seed and fellow SLC competitor Waterford (7-16) tonight. The Wolverines played in Tuesday’s regional quarterfinals and advanced with a 53-48 win over ninth-seeded Milton.
Central is led by senior guard Jaeden Zackery, who led the SLC with 22.1 points per game, according to WisSports.net. The Falcons swept the Wolverines this season by scores of 66-36 and 70-44.
A third Central win could perhaps set up a juicy intra-county showdown in the regional final.
The other semifinal bracket pits fourth-seeded Wilmot (17-5) hosting fifth-seeded Jefferson (14-8).
If the Panthers and Falcons both win, that would set up Central vs. Wilmot Part III for the regional title 7 p.m. Saturday at Central.
Indian Trail, Bradford and Tremper will each hit the road for their respective regional semifinals.
The ninth-seeded Hawks (13-8) will play at eighth-seeded Racine Horlick (9-13) in a matchup of Southeast Conference teams.
Horlick swept Indian Trail this season, winning 73-68 at Horlick on Jan. 11 and 84-76 in an SEC finale on Feb. 15. In the second game, standout Horlick senior guard Marquise Milton — who led the SEC at 27 points per game, according to WisSports.net — erupted for 42 points.
The winner will play either top-seeded Madison East — the top-ranked team in Division-1 — or 16th-seeded Lake Geneva Badger in Saturday’s regional finals.
Bradford, meanwhile, finished the regular season 7-15 and received a No. 14 seed. The Red Devils will play at No. 3 seed Madison La Follette (17-5), with the winner facing either No. 6 Middleton or No. 11 seed Janesville Craig in Saturday’s regional finals.
Tremper, a No. 15 seed, had to play in Tuesday’s quarterfinals and advanced with a 75-61 home win over No. 18 seed Janesville Parker.
The Trojans (8-15) will take on second-seeded Racine Park (16-5) tonight. The Panthers won the SEC title and are ranked No. 10 in Division-1. The Panthers swept the Trojans by scores of 84-59 and 89-67 this season.
The winner advances to Saturday’s regional finals against either No. 7 seed Waunakee or No. 10 seed Racine Case.
St. Joseph, a No. 7 seed, improved to 8-15 with a 62-46 home defeat of No. 10 seed Milwaukee Destiny in Tuesday’s regional quarterfinals.
The Lancers will be underdogs when they play at No. 2 seed Racine Prairie (12-10) tonight, but St. Joseph has already proven it can win at Prairie this season.
On Jan. 11, the Lancers picked up a Metro Classic Conference road win over the Prairie Hawks, 55-52, led by freshman Andrew Alia’s 19 points. Prairie captured the rematch at St. Joseph, 83-56 on Feb. 15.
Awaiting the winner in Saturday’s regional finals is either No. 3 seed Palmyra-Eagle or No. 6 seed Milwaukee Juneau.