Can Whippets defend title?
The race for coveted spots in the WIAA girls state basketball tournament at the Resch Center in Green Bay begins this week.
Regional action begins Tuesday, Feb. 23, for schools not receiving first-round byes, while everybody joins the fray on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26 and Feb. 27.
Sectionals in all five divisions are scheduled Thursday and Saturday, March 3 and March 5.
The Final Fours will be held Thursday through Saturday, March 10 through March 12, in Titletown.
Here is a look at where Stateline area squads begin their journeys:
It will be a treacherous road for area teams in the Division 1 field. Janesville Craig is the sectional host for a 17-school competition that includes rival Janesville Parker, Beloit Memorial and Badger.
Craig has been the third-best team in the Big Eight Conference, which is well represented in this sectional, including Middleton and Verona, the odds-on favorites to battle for a spot at state.
Parker and first-year coach Jennah Hartwig have been in the middle of the league pack, while winless Beloit Memorial seldom has been competitive.
Badger also has battled in the middle of the Southern Lakes race.
The field also features Wisconsin Little Ten contender Watertown and a good Kenosha Tremper bunch.
Craig earned the No. 3 seed in the competitions that have Verona as the top seed and Middleton at No. 2.
Kerry Storbakken's Cougars host 14th seeded Madison Memorial in their opener Friday. A victory would give them another home date Saturday, Feb. 27, against sixth-seeded Tremper or No. 11 Kenosha Indian Trail.
Meanwhile, Parker earned the seventh seed and hosts 10th seeded Madison East on Friday. Should they advance, the Vikings likely would travel to Middleton on Feb. 27.
The other side of the bracket sees Beloit Memorial, the lowest seed, visiting 16th-seeded Kenosha Bradford in a play-in game Tuesday. The winner visits Verona.
The top-seeded Wildcats' second opponent, assuming they advance, will be eighth-seeded Muskego or ninth-seeded Badger. The latter two meet Friday, with the winner likely heading to Verona on Feb. 27.
The four Stateline area squads in Division 2 will compete in the Middleton Sectional, which is divided into two 11-team brackets.
Delavan-Darien has improved drastically after losing 19 games a year ago and has been fighting to finish in the top half of the Southern Lakes, where rival Elkhorn has taken the Comets' spot in the cellar.
Burlington has been battling DDHS and Badger in its competition for second and third behind Wilmot in the league standings.
Milton also is in the fray. The Red Hawks tussled with Fort Atkinson to stay out of the Badger South basement.
Wilmot and Union Grove should be the teams to beat, with the winner likely to face highly ranked Stoughton or Monona Grove for the sectional crown.
Milton, thanks to its lopsided win over Delavan-Darien in December, earned the third seed, while the Comets settled for the No. 4 seed.
On Friday, Feb. 26, the Red Hawks host the winner of Tuesday's opener between sixth-seeded Burlington and 11th seeded Elkhorn.
Meanwhile, DDHS entertains fifth-seeded McFarland on Friday after the Spartans battled Edgerton for second place behind top-ranked Whitewater in the Rock Valley North. The survivor of that contest likely faces a trip to top-seeded Union Grove, which the Comets upset by 3 points on the road in late January.
The Sun Prairie Sectional once again features several powerful, battle-tested teams from the Rock Valley and Capitol conferences.
Top-ranked and defending state champion Whitewater, whose only loss this season came to Stoughton in its second game, appears to be the class of the field again.
However, the Whippets must play their “A” game with second-ranked Marshall, seventh-rated Brodhead and Edgewood in the mix.
The 12-team field also includes Big Foot, East Troy, Clinton, Edgerton, Turner and Evansville.
The top-ranked Whippets and second-seeded Marshall received first-round byes.
On Friday, Whitewater meets eighth-seeded East Troy or ninth-seeded Turner, who tangle Tuesday.
Big Foot earned the fifth seed and hosts No. 12 Evansville on Tuesday. That victor travels to Edgewood on Friday.
The other side of the bracket has No. 7 Edgerton hosting 10th-seeded Lake Mills on Tuesday for a chance to battle Marshall.
Meanwhile, Brodhead is the third seed and awaits the winner between sixth-seeded Lakeside Lutheran and 11th-seeded Clinton.
Area teams Parkview and Palmyra-Eagle will find it difficult to make any progress in their regional of the Baraboo Sectional.
That's because third-ranked Mineral Point and perennial power, defending state champion and No. 4 Cuba City stand in the way.
Mineral Point is the top seed and on the same side as Palmyra-Eagle, which is the No. 12 seed and visits fifth-seeded Cambridge in its Tuesday opener.
Parkview, the 11th seed, is on the opposite side of the bracket and visits sixth-seeded Belleville, with the winner traveling to third-seeded New Glarus.
Teams will compete in the Watertown Sectional. Williams Bay is on the same side of the bracket as third-ranked Fall River, while Catholic Central and Faith Christian are on the opposite side.
Williams Bay is the No. 8 seed and hosts ninth-seeded Albany on Tuesday, with the winner getting a shot at top-seeded Fall River on Friday.
Catholic Central earned the seventh seed and hosts No. 10 Faith Christian. The winner advances to a Friday contest at Living Word Lutheran, the second seed.