Monroe rebounded from a regular season-ending loss to Madison Edgewood (a Division 3 state qualifier) to storm past four Badger Conference teams, including 2016 state runner-up and third-ranked Stoughton, to earn its first state trip since 2010. Coach Sam Mathiason’s Cheesemakers were ranked eighth in the final AP poll, and has played ranked teams six times — including a 70-49 loss to top-ranked Beaver Dam on Dec. 10. The Badger South tri-champions are led by 5-9 sophomore Sydney Hilliard (19 ppg, 8.3 steals, 4.1 rebounds, .602 field-goal percentage), who has drawn interest from every Division I program in Wisconsin, among others. Emily Benzschawel (5-8 sophomore guard) averages 12.4 ppg and coach’s daughter Sydney Mathiason (6-0 junior) averages 11.3.
Beaver Dam cruised through an undefeated regular season, with its closest games a 13-point win over Milwaukee Pius XI, a 14-point win over Wisconsin Little Ten Conference foe Slinger and a 16-point win over defending Division 2 champ New Berlin Eisenhower. Coach Tim Chase’s Beavers won their four postseason games by an average of 25 points. Senior Cassidy Trotter, a 5-8 guard who has signed with Division II Michigan Tech, averages 15.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.5 assists and 4.0 steals per game. Sophomore Tara Stauffacher, a 5-11 forward, averages 11.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg. As a team, the Beavers shoot 47.1 percent from the field and 70 percent from the line.
Cudahy may be the Cinderella story of the entire state tournament, and a source of redemption for first-year coach Bob Maronde. Maronde coached at Grafton for 23 years (19 with the girls and four with the boys), winning state titles in 2007 and 2009, but was dismissed from his teaching and coaching positions last April following two classroom disciplinary incidents. So Maronde came to Cudahy and led the Packers to the Woodland East title and their first state tournament berth, thanks to a 47-45 sectional semifinal victory over defending state champ New Berlin Eisenhower and an overtime win over New Berlin West in a regional final. Cudahy started 3-5, but avenged three of those losses (plus one to Eisenhower) while winning 16 of their last 18 games. Junior Hannah Kulas, a 5-11 junior, averages 16.3 ppg and 7.7 rpg, with 61 blocks and 70 steals. Senior Bailey Eichner, a 6-1 guard who will play at Division I William and Mary, averages 12.5 ppg and 6.9 assists with 70 steals.
Hortonville is at state for the second time; its last appearance was a one-and-done trip in 1987. First-year coach Celeste Ratka, a product of the Hortonville program, led the Polar Bears to a second-place finish (behind Division 1 qualifier Appleton North) in the Fox Valley Association. They have won five in a row and 12 of their last 14. The team has two Division I commits in Valparaiso-bound junior Shay Frederick (5-5 guard, 17.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 82 assists, 57 steals, .739 free-throw percentage) and Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis commit Morgan Allen (6-1 senior center, 15.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 22 blocks, .558 field goal percentage).