(WQOW) -- The 99th-annual WIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament tips off Thursday at the Kohl Center, in Madison.
In division five, Thorp faces Cochrane-Fountain City is the second semifinal Thursday afternoon. It will be a contrast of styles between the Cardinals and the Pirates.
"From watching film, they look like a very athletic team that can shoot. They have some nice size on them, experienced kids," says Thorp senior guard Albi Maksuti. "Coach said they all play AAU so they all have some ball skills on their side. If we can step up our defense, I think we can take care of them and move on to the next game."
"We're going to have to defend our tails off. They put a lot of pressure on you defensively. They're not extremely tall but they have really good size and they pass well and shoot well. All those things put pressure upon your defense and we'll have to be really good," adds Thorp head coach Rich Sonnetag.
The division four semifinal between Unity and Blair-Taylor will also be a contrast of styles. The Wildcats like to get up and down the court, the Eagles like to focus on playing defense.
"We actually played them in summer league, we lost by two. So we know how they play, we've played them before. They have three guards who can shoot really well. We just have to shut them down, play our good defense, and hopefully we'll come away with a 'W'," says senior forward Zac Johnson.
The division three semifinal between Elk Mound and Lodi is a very intriguing match up. The Blue Devils have been to state before and feature a division one recruit in Jordan Shea. The Mounders will look to counter by playing the same team basketball they've succeeded with all season.
"Lodi has a great team. I think they have four kids who are going to play college basketball next year," says Elk Mound head coach Chris Hahn. "They're really athletic, they have a great coaching staff who has done a great job in getting them down here the last three years. Obviously they have a very good team and it'll be a great challenge for us. Once you get to this point, everybody is going to be good."
In division two, it'll be Rice Lake taking on Greendale. The Panthers are a big of a surprise after they knocked off top-ranked Mount Horeb to get to state. Rice Lake has one the state's top players in Henry Ellenson and a very solid supporting cast.
"I know they're going to throw a bunch of defenses at us, we just have to keep doing what we've been doing. We've been playing really efficient lately, so we just have to keep that up and really stop them when they get on the break," says Ellenson.
Adds head coach Kevin Orr: "We know what their strengths are, so obviously we'll focus on taking that away. We know who their scorers are. We'll start putting together a game plan today, tomorrow and then in our walkthrough on Friday morning."
You can watch all the state tournament games live on WQOW 18, or online at www.wqow.com.
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