Prep hoops: Three area teams continue deep playoff runs

Several local basketball teams are still alive in the postseason, inching closer and closer to the ultimate goal of a state championship.

WIAA Division 2 boys sectional semifinal
Medford vs Wausau East

Thursday, March 9, 7 p.m., Merrill High School

The winner of tonight’s eagerly-anticipated rematch between Medford (20-4) and Wausau East (16-7) will advance to the doorstep of the state tournament.

Sawyer Schlindwein had a monster double-double, 24 points with 17 rebounds, as the Lumberjacks edged the Raiders 69-67 back on Feb. 11. Wausau East has won its two playoff games by a combined 18 points and is at the sectional level for the second straight year.

Medford is just four days removed from a memorable regional final win over Hortonville - the Raiders overcame a 20-point second half deficit - and is playing in its first sectional semifinal since 2008.

Tonight's winner advances to a sectional final on Saturday at Stevens Point.

Players to watch: Medford, Osy Ekwueme, 16.8 ppg, 58.0 FG%, 6.7 rebounds/game, 4.6 assists/game; Wausau East, Sawyer Schlindwein, 18.7 ppg, 55.6 FG%, 10.0 rebounds/game.

WIAA Division 4 boys sectional semifinal
Stratford vs Neillsville

Thursday, March 9, 7 p.m., Greenheck Fieldhouse, Schofield

Stratford (17-8) and Neillsville (17-8), a pair of teams no one expected to still be playing, will meet up for a sectional semifinal bout tonight in Schofield.

The 7-seed Tigers upset 2-seed Edgar and 6-seed Auburndale to reach sectionals for the first time since 2008, while Neillsville, a 5-seed, held off top-seeded Marathon to win their first regional title since 2007.

Neillsville hasn’t advanced to state since 1934. Stratford has never been to state.

Tonight's winner advances to a sectional final on Saturday at Waupaca.

Players to watch: Neillsville, Adam Schmidt, 16.2 ppg; Stratford, Vaughn Breit, 13.1 ppg, .542 FG%, 7.6 rebounds/game.

WIAA Division 5 girls state semifinal
Loyal vs Bangor

Friday, March 10, 10:45 a.m., The Resch Center, Green Bay

Loyal (23-4) will face Bangor (24-3) tomorrow morning in a Division 5 state semifinal game.

The Greyhounds, co-champions of the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference, are making their first-ever appearance at the state tournament after rolling through five playoff opponents by an average of 30.2 points.

Bangor won a Division 4 state title in 1997 - its lone previous state appearance - and won the Scenic Bluffs Conference championship this season.

Tomorrow's winner advances to the state title game, set for Saturday at 11:05 a.m. at the Resch Center.

Players to watch: Loyal, Morgan Reinwand, 17.1 ppg, 4.8 rebounds/game, 4.3 assists/game, 3.6 steals/game; Bangor, Emma Wittmershaus, 14.8 ppg, 52.7 FG%, 6.9 rebounds/game.

For more coverage of high school sports in Central Wisconsin, read The Star News, The Record Review or The Tribune Record Gleaner, each published weekly.

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