Spooner, Menomonie, Clear Lake (WQOW) -- Playing in the WIAA State Boys Basketball tournament is a special experience, whether it's a program making a repeat trip, or one going for the first time in many years.
McDonell Central is making the trip to Madison for a third straight season, and for the fourth time in program history. The Macks moved on by beating South Shore in a Division 5 Sectional Final, Saturday. Senior forward Hayden Baughman is a three-year starter for the Macks, and he says every trip to state is a great way to wrap up the season.
"It's an awesome experience being down at state," Baughman says, "[I've] been there two years and it's never a letdown, it's always a lot of fun hanging out with the guys down there, watching some basketball, playing some basketball on the biggest stage in high school basketball so it's a lot of fun and I'm really excited."
McDonell Central is the #3 seed in the Division 5 state bracket, and will face #2 seed Deerfield, at around 10:45 A.M., Friday, at the Kohl Center.
Prescott is off to state for a second straight season, and for the first time in the last four years. In 2015, the Cardinals got knocked off in the state semifinals, and last season, they fell in the Division 3 state championship game. Now, they're looking to take the next step.
"We've been saying it all year and even from last year, we want to get a gold ball, that's our goal," says Prescott senior guard Joe Roosen, "we don't want another silver one, we've already got that one so we want the gold one."
"You've got to go down there believing we can win a gold ball," says Prescott head coach Nick Johnson, "we're not going to go down there intimidated by anyone, we're going to play as we can play and whatever happens, happens, but I know we're going to play hard and we're going to give it everything we've got."
Prescott is seeded third in Division 3, the Cardinals will face #2 seed East Troy, at around 3:15 P.M., Friday.
There's plenty of excitement in Clear Lake, with the Warriors heading off to state for the first time since 1972.
Clear Lake came close last year, but lost in a Division 5 sectional semifinal to McDonell Central. The Warriors moved up to Division 4 this postseason, and wound up winning their regional and sectional to advance to state. Now, they're about to play in one of the biggest games in program history, with the backing of the whole Clear Lake community.
"I think there were six or seven of those guys from the '72 team there on Saturday night [at the sectional final], which was super cool, so they're excited for us," says Warriors head coach Jason Sargent, "and you know, we're certainly proud to get our group back down to Madison."
"We've played in some big games," says Clear Lake junior forward Marshall Cain, "last year we played in the sectional semifinal game, and then this year, having, obviously, the sectional wins, I mean, if we can just play with the composure and keep our cool like we did in those games, it'll be, we'll be all right."
"We're excited to be there but you know, we're always looking to bring something home and put something in the trophy case," says Warriors senior guard Daymond Bad Horse, "that'll be a great accomplishment, I mean, our basketball trophy case is pretty empty so putting some hardware in there, that would be great."
Unbeaten Clear Lake is the #2 seed in Division 4, and will face Marathon in a state semifinal at around 8:15 P.M., Thursday.
For the 2018 WIAA State Boys Basketball news release, click here