DIVISION 5Last season: Barneveld took a 23-3 record into the championship game of the Fort Atkinson sectional and left on the short end of a 59-38 decision against Milwaukee Heritage Christian, the eventual state champion. Heritage Christian, which won its six postseason games by an average of 29.5 points, got its stiffest playoff test in the state semifinals from Seneca, winning 50-41 before pounding Owen-Withee 79-51 to claim its first state championship.
Area outlook: Barneveld (21-1) has its sights set on another sectional final shot at Heritage Christian. The Eagles graduated three starters and have only one senior on the roster (Madison Laube). But they brought in one of the state’s top freshmen in Hannah Whitish, a 5-8 guard averaging 15.3 ppg alongside sophomore Rachel Slaney (15.1). Fall River (21-1) and Randolph (16-6) will likely square off in a regional final for the right to face Heritage Christian in the sectional semifinals. Seneca and Royall — one of four teams to share the Scenic Bluffs Conference title — pulled down No. 1 regional seeds in a La Crosse Logan sectional where Wisconsin Rapids Assumption (the only team to beat Barneveld) is favored.
State of the state: After dominating its Division 5 competition a year ago, Heritage Christian coach Terry Bennett talked of playing up a division this season. That never materialized and the Patriots (20-2) are poised to dominate the postseason yet again. Their only losses have come to Division 1 schools Milwaukee King and Milwaukee Riverside and — in outscoring opponents 1,681-743 — they have twice topped the 100-point mark against teams that couldn’t match Heritage Christian’s depth or athleticism.
— Nick Sunderland-Saied, Dennis Semrau and Rob Hernandez
DIVISION 5What to watch: As long as Milwaukee Heritage Christian is allowed to stay in Division 5, the rest of the state has as much chance of winning a state title as I do a dunk contest. The Patriot missile that tore through the Kohl Center last year will do even greater damage at the Resch Center, but will the way in which Heritage Christian asserts its dominance spark outrage or be overshadowed by the fact no public school will be among the final four?
See you at the Resch Center: Wausau Newman, Wisconsin Rapids Assumption, Eau Claire Immanuel, Milwaukee Heritage Christian.
Gold ball: Heritage Christian 95, Wausau Newman 31.
DIVISION 5What to watch: Milwaukee Heritage Christian (20-2) — with its only losses coming to Division 1 powers Milwaukee King and Milwaukee Riverside — is the defending champion and a favorite to repeat. But it will have to get past Barneveld (21-1) in the sectional finals. Barneveld’s only loss was by three points to Wisconsin Rapids Assumption (21-1).
See you at the Resch Center: Wausau Newman, Wisconsin Rapids Assumption, Owen-Withee, Milwaukee Heritage Christian.
Gold ball: Heritage Christian tips off “Championship Saturday” as the first of three repeat champions with a 53-48 victory over Wisconsin Rapids Assumption.