Psst... Wanna see some prep hoops?
This weekend, sectionals throughout the state will determine the field for the WIAA's state boys basketball tournament next week at the Kohl Center. Prep hoops has officially become a big deal in Wisconsin. With increased media attention, high school stars have become familiar to even casual fans. The WIAA (Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association) has not discouraged this attention.
The sectional that includes Madison high schools will be at the Waunakee High School gym, which holds 1,700. Each of the four schools competing on Friday night - Madison's East and Memorial, Baraboo and Waunakee - got 850 tickets, which promptly sold out. If you're an unaffiliated fan hoping to see win-or-go-home tournament action featuring some of the state's best young players, you're out of luck.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee sectionals are at Marquette's spacious Al McGuire Center, capacity 4,000. Oshkosh-area teams will compete at UW-Oshkosh's Kolf Sports Center, with 5,600 seats. And Fox Valley schools can use the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena, with more than 5,300 seats. Gee, if only Madison had a decent-size hoops venue for this purpose!
"There have been discussions between the WIAA and UW about moving to the [UW] Field House," confirms Memorial athletic director Tim Ritchie. "It's probably more UW's issue because of staffing questions. The schools would be able to provide plenty of volunteers, but there's also a question of liability. It would definitely solve a lot of problems, though."
Besides being a boon to local hoop heads, it could create a new revenue stream for the UW athletic department. Are you paying attention, Barry Alvarez?