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Boys Hoops: Several schools benefit from changes to WIAA basketball playoffs

12/09/2019, 1:30pm CST
By Mark Miller

Twenty-seven high school boys' basketball programs in Wisconsin will compete in new divisions once the WIAA playoffs get underway in Divisions 1-2-3-4-5 on March 3, 2020. 

Below are a few prominent programs that could make a major impact in their new divisions:

DIVISION 2

Waukesha West (Enrollment 1,178)

The defending champions in the Classic Eight Conference move back down to Division 2 after spending last season in Division 1. Coach Don LaValle lost three key players to graduation, including 6-foot-10 senior center David Skogman, who is now in the NCAA Division I program at Buffalo. Junior Cam Palesse (6-4) is back for his third season of varsity basketball after averaging 17.0 points and 5.8 rebounds as a sophomore while helping the Wolverines to a 22-4 record. Senior Avery Owusu-Asiedu (6-5) also returns to the starting rotation. Look for juniors Peter Skogman (6-5) and Sam Ziebell (6-1) also to play key roles for Waukesha West, which will compete in Sectional 3 in the playoffs along with many schools from the Badger and Southern Lakes conferences. 

DIVISION 3

East Troy (Enrollment 592)

The Trojans yo-yo back to Division 3 after playing in Division 2 last season. The Rock Valley Conference powerhouse should again have a formidable roster as senior forward AJ Vukovich (6-5), a Louisville baseball recruit, returns for his fourth year of varsity competition. Vukovich averaged 26.5 points and 10.0 rebounds as a junior while leading the Trojans to a 21-2 record. Seniors Michael Rosin (6-1) and Quinten Lottig (5-10) along with sophomore Chase Cummings (6-3) also return to the starting rotation for coach Darryl Rayfield. Look for Delavan-Darien transfer Collin Terpstra, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, also to play a prominent role for the Trojans. The WIAA placed East Troy in the mix with several other Division 3 juggernauts (Martin Luther, St. Catherine's, St. John's Military, Lake Mills) in Sectional 4. 

Oostburg (Enrollment 316)
Oostburg played in Division 3 two years ago before dropping down to Division 4 last winter. The Dutchmen return to Division 3 this time around but, unlike East Troy, coach Kevin Bruggink's club lucked out by being placed in Sectional 2 instead of the loaded Sectional 4. The road to the Kohl Center is still difficult in Sectional 2 (Chilton, Clintonville, Freedom, Wrightstown, Xavier), but it's not close to the absolutely ridiculous talent in Sectional 4. Five starters and several key backups return for Oostburg, which went 18-6 a year ago. Seniors Cam Jaeger (6-2), Ashtin Smies (6-0), Derek Oonk (6-2) and Braden Dirkse (6-1) along with juniors Logan Brock (6-5), Johnathan Heinen (6-6) and Brady Wisse (6-5) form a deep and experienced nucleus. 

DIVISION 4

Brookfield Academy (Enrollment 314)

The folks at Brookfield Academy likely are ecstatic when looking at their sectional grouping and not seeing the likes of Brown Deer, Dominican, Milwaukee Lutheran or Waupun, the teams that knocked them out of the Division 3 playoffs in recent seasons. The Blue Knights move out of Division 3 and into Division 4 at a good time as coach Pat Clarey has a veteran lineup led by seniors Aiden Clarey (6-2) and Alex Leach (6-6) along with juniors Max Kunnert (6-3) and Logan Landers (6-9). All four players averaged in double figures last season when Brookfield Academy went 20-6 under coach Pat Clarey. Though the Blue Knights avoid those powerful Division 3 programs list above, they do have some tough competition in Sectional 4 of Division 4, including Kohler, Manitowoc Lutheran, Milwaukee Academy of Science, Racine Lutheran, Roncalli and The Prairie School, among others.

Stratford (Enrollment 306)
The Tigers won 24 straight games last season before sustaining their first loss at the Division 3 sectional semifinal level to Wisconsin Dells. A slight dip in enrollment finds Stratford in Division 4 this season with a lineup that includes three returning starters along with a couple of top reserves. Coach Curt Schmidt has an extremely strong frontline with physical forward Ben Barten (6-5), a University of Wisconsin football recruit, teaming with the highly skilled and experienced Vaughn Breit (6-5). Senior Chander Schmidt (6-2) also returns to the starting rotation for the defending Marawood South Conference champions. Getting strong play from seniors Teddy Redman (6-0) and Dawson Danen (6-3) along with junior Max Vanderhoof (5-7) will be vital for the Tigers, who were placed in Sectional 2 along with Auburndale, Crivitz, Edgar, Lourdes Academy, Marathon and Neillsville, among others.  

DIVISION 5

Clear Lake (Enrollment 176)

The Warriors qualified for the WIAA State Tournament in Division 4 in 2018 and then lost in the sectional finals of D4 last winter. Coach Jason Sargent's program drops to Division 5 needing to replace five starters from a club that went 22-2. However, there remains plenty of talent in the Clear Lake program as the JV and freshmen squads went a combined 25-0. With victories already posted over Unity and Fall Creek, look for the Warriors to make some noise in Sectional 1 of Division 5. Sophomores Tyson Blanchard (6-3) and Riley Peterson (6-5) are top-level performers for Clear Lake. 

Here are the divisional changes for the 2019-20 WIAA playoffs:

New Division 1 Schools (Enrollment range: 1,200 and above)

West Bend West
(Enrollment: 1,204, previous D2)

New Division 2 Schools (Enrollment range: 600 to 1,199)

Milwaukee School of Languages
(Enrollment: 604, previous D3)

Waukesha North
(Enrollment: 1,169, previous D1)

Waukesha West
(Enrollment: 1,178, previous D1)

New Division 3 Schools (Enrollment range: 599 to 316)

Brodhead
(Enrollment: 329, previous D4)

Cristo Rey Jesuit
(Enrollment: 394, previous D2)

East Troy
(Enrollment: 592, previous D2)

Kewaskum
(Enrollment: 598, previous D2)

Milwaukee Collegiate Academy
(Enrollment: 320, previous D4)

Oostburg
(Enrollment: 316, previous D4)

St. Croix Falls
(Enrollment: 332, previous D4)

New Division 4 Schools (Enrollment range: 319 to 187)

Brookfield Academy
(Enrollment: 314, previous D3)

Cedar Grove
(Enrollment: 309, previous D3)

Edgar
(Enrollment: 189, previous D5)

Heritage Christian
(Enrollment: 190, previous D5)

Johnson Creek
(Enrollment: 197, previous D4)

Living Word Lutheran
(Enrollment: 201, previous D5)

Milwaukee Lifelong Learning
(Enrollment: 290, previous D3)

River Ridge
(Enrollment: 190, previous D5)

Southern Door
(Enrollment: 310, previous D3)

Stratford
(Enrollment: 306, previous D3)

New Division 5 Schools (Enrollment range: 186 to 21)

Cashton
(Enrollment: 184, previous D4)

Clear Lake
(Enrollment: 176, previous D4)

Community Christian of Baraboo
(Enrollment: 21, previous First year in WIAA playoffs)

Thorp
(Enrollment: 186, previous D4)

Wabeno/Laona
(Enrollment: 167, previous D4)

Wayland Academy
(Enrollment: 177, previous D4)

Sectional Changes

Division 1

Kenosha Bradford from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Kenosha Indian Trail from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Kenosha Tremper from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Kettle Moraine from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Milwaukee King from Sectional 4 to Sectional 2
Mukwonago from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Oconomowoc from Sectional 2 to Sectional 3
Racine Case from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Racine Horlick from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Racine Park from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Watertown from Sectional 2 to Sectional 3
Waukesha South from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3

Division 2
Fox Valley Lutheran from Sectional 1 to Sectional 2
Whitefish Bay from Sectional 4 to Sectional 2

Division 3
Berlin from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Big Foot from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Cambellsport from Sectional 4 to Sectional 2
Clinton from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Columbus from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Kenosha Reuther from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Laconia from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Lake Mills from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Lakeside Lutheran from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Lomira from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Martin Luther from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Mayville from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
North Fond du Lac from Sectional 4 to Sectional 2
Omro from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Racine St. Catherine's from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Ripon from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Saint Francis from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Saint Thomas More from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Shoreland Lutheran from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
St. John's NW Military Academy from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Waupun from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Watertown Luther Prep from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Wautoma from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Whitewater from Sectional 3 to Sectional 4
Winneconne from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3

Division 4
Aquinas from Sectional 3 to Sectional 1
Dodgeland from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Luther from Sectional 3 to Sectional 1
Palmyra-Eagle from Sectional 4 to Sectional 3
Saint Mary's Springs from Sectional 4 to Sectional 2
Westfield from Sectional 2 to Sectional 3
Winnebago Lutheran from Sectional 4 to Sectional 2

Division 5
Athens from Sectional 1 to Sectional 2
Faith Christian from Sectional 4 to Sectional 2
Gibraltar from Sectional 2 to Sectional 4
Green Bay NEW Lutheran from Sectional 2 to Sectional 4
Oneida Nation from Sectional 2 to Sectional 4
Rib Lake from Sectional 1 to Sectional 2

For the latest and most up to date boys' basketball news and recruiting information, follow Mark on Twitter @wisbbyearbook. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Mark by clicking here.

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