Regional tournament action heats up for Tri-County prep girls basketball teams

Three of the Tri-County are prep girls basketball teams are still playing in WIAA regional tournaments this week.

In fact two of them haven't played their first games yet.

In light of successful regular seasons both Osseo-Fairchild and Eleva-Strum got first round byes into the semifinals, which will be played Friday evening starting at 7 p.m., and get to be home teams.

The Thunder, 17-5 overall, is a No. 3 seed and will take No. 6 seed Durand. The Panthers were easy 62-18 winners over No. 11 seed Spring Valley at home Tuesday.

Durand is 15-8 overall and finished third in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference with a 10-4 record. They are led in scoring and rebounding by 6-1 junior center McKenna Hurlburt who is averaging 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game. Guard Leah Sabelko also averages in double figures for the Panthers at 10.2 ppg.

Durand lost to Eau Claire Regis at the start of the season but has beaten Fall Creek and also swept Mondovi. The winner will play the winner of the match-up between No. 7 seed Cadott (13-10) and No. 2 seed and No. 8 ranked Neillsville (20-2). The Warriors edged Osseo-Fairchild in overtime in a Cloverbelt Crossover match-up of first place teams 47-44 led by their top scorer, junior guard Bella Opelt, averaging nearly 15 ppg. Cadott won its first regional tournament game in 19 years over No. 10 seed Whitehall on Tuesday and is led in scoring by 5-10 junior Jada Kowalczyk averaging nearly 17 ppg.

Eleva-Strum has popped back into the final state coaches' poll tied for the No. 10 spot. They have the No. 2 seed in their regional tournament bracket and will host No. 7 seed Marshfield Columbus (12-11). The Dons got past No. 10 seed Gilmanton on Tuesday in the first round 52-32, outscoring the Panthers 35-18 in the second half. Columbus is without their top scorer, 5-10 senior Addison Bairel due to an injury. Picking up the scoring slack are 5-6 senior guard Annika Brown and fellow guard junior Meghan Kibble who 25 points combined sparked the Dons to the first round win.

The winner of this match-up takes on No. 6 seeded Lincoln (13-10) or No. 3 seeded Cashton in the regional finals. Lincoln downed Augusta in the first round Tuesday 49-32 led by their top scorer, 5-6 senior guard Emma Fischer. Cashton (19-4) also got a first-round bye. They finished second in the Scenic Bluffs Conference only behind No. 3 ranked Bangor. The Eagles are led in scoring by the Hyatts, the guards junior Adelynn and freshman Braylee, both averaging over 11 points per game. As a No. 2 seed the Cardinals will host throughout the playoffs.

One Tri-County team which played in the first round Tuesday and won is Fall Creek. The No. 5 seeded Crickets (15-8) routed No. 12 seed Eau Claire Regis 65-30 at home. Their next task is to take on No. 4 seed Stanley-Boyd on the road Friday. FC split their two meetings with S-B, winning the first 62-53 at S-B but losing the second at home by a 47-40 score. The Orioles (14-8) have three players scoring in double figures led by 5-11 sophomore forward Lily Hoel at 14 ppg. She also leads the team in rebounds at 9.2 per game. Junior guard Marissa Gustafson and freshman guard Tegen Becker also average 10 points per game. The winner will more than likely face the daunting challenge of playing No. 3 ranked and No. 1 seed Melrose-Mindoro (21-1). The Mustangs get No. 8 seed Cochrane-Fountain City, a 57-55 winner over No. 9 seed Mondovi Tuesday. The Pirates (11-12) are led in scoring by junior guard Alison Murty and junior forward Jordyn Halverson at nearly 10 points per game while the Mustangs have a whole range of scoring options from the Large Dairyland Conference's top scorer and rebounder, senior 6-3 center and soon-to-be Division 1 collegiate player Mesa Byom at 17.3 ppg. or 5-9 senior point guard Calette Lockington who averages nearly 14 ppg.

People can view the tournament brackets through this link:


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