Last week, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown and Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton teamed up to send three wrestlers to the state tournament. Tuesday in basketball, these two schools will love nothing more than to knock the other out of the playoffs.
The two neighbor schools unite as one team for wrestling in the winter and cross country in the fall, but are separate entities for basketball.
The past decade of the rivalry has been one-sided in WEM's favor. The tables turned this year as JWP knocked off WEM 57-50 on Jan. 9 for the Bulldogs' first win over the Bucaneeers since 2008. It snapped a 14-game WEM win streak.
JWP (17-19) earned the No. 4 seed out of 11 in a tough Section 2A South, just ahead of No. 5 WEM (12-14).
The Bucs head into the matchup with confidence brewing from wins in six of their final seven games.
According to WEM coach Jeff Wagner, the team began to play its best basketball starting in the second half of a loss to Cleveland Feb. 8 that preceded the final seven-game stretch.
The Bucs closed the season with a 65-59 win against a tough Minnesota Valley Lutheran (17-9) team, and did so mostly without junior guard Tanner Ranslow who exited with an ankle injury.
Ranslow is expected to give it a go Tuesday, but will be playing on both ankles that have been injured this season. Tuesday's game was originally scheduled for Monday, but inclement weather granted him an extra day of rest.
Guards Bladyn Bartelt and Grant McBroom picked up the scoring slack to finish off the win against MVL.
Those two will have to hit shots against JWP's 2-3 zone to come away with the win, particularly if Ranslow is out or limited.
McBroom lit up JWP for 25 points in the first matchup.
The Bulldogs feature three seniors, including top scorers guard Andrew Fisel and 6-foot-2 forward Sam Eustice. Otherwise, the roster is sophomore heavy with 11 compared to just one junior.
One of the top sophomores is guard Kobe Weimart who frequents double-digits scoring.
WEM head coach Jeff Wagner straddles both sides of the rivalry as he is head football coach for JWP.
Around the section
The state No. 1 Springfield Tigers double as No. 1 in the subsection. With a 25-1 record, the Tigers are the odds-on favorite to win the subsection and return to the state tournament where they took fourth place in 2016-17.
If it's Springfield that moves on to the subsection finals, who it faceS isn't so certain. No. 2 seed St. Clair (16-10) got the edge over No. 3 Mountain Lake Area (19-7) and JWP due to a strong QRF ranking.
Four 20-win teams make up a strong North subsection headed by No. 1 seed and state No. 5 Mayer Lutheran. State No. 10 Bird Island-Olivia-Lake Lillian (20-6), No. 19 New Ulm Cathedral (21-5) and Cleveland (20-6) round out the top four seeds.