A win away from a state championship berth and Central High School boys basketball players and coaches are saying all the right things in a rematch with Waunakee.
At 1:35 p.m. today from the Kohl Center, the top-ranked Red Raiders (24-2) play No. 4 Waunakee (24-2) in the Division 2 semifinals, which will be aired on WKTY 96.7 FM/580 AM.
Back on Jan. 24, the Red Raiders took down the Warriors 75-54 at the La Crosse Center, getting 21 points from Bailey Kale and 20 from Kobe King.
"They didn't shoot particularly well that game," Central coach Todd Fergot said. "They're a much better team than what they showed against us.
"So really, that first game has no bearing on our game on Friday."
This is the second consecutive trip to state for both Central and Waunakee, which were both ousted last year by state champion Kaukauna.
And, another trip, means more memories for Fergot and his team - eight of them seniors, including King who will play for the Wisconsin Badgers next season.
"We try not to really think about that," an emotional Fergot said of saying goodbye to that group of seniors. "I'm just really focued on these guys and enjoy every day we have together. ... They know how much we love them."
The Red Raiders lost to the Ghosts in the semifinals 72-45. Waunakee fell in the championship 91-62.
Whoever gets through will play the winner of No. 2-ranked Cedarburg (24-2) and fifth-ranked Milwaukee Washington (22-4) at 6:35 p.m. Saturday.
While it's the second consecutive trip to state for Central, it's also the 16th time in school history. The Red Raiders' time at state dates back to the 1920s when they made nine consecutive appearances (1920-28), winning the title just once (1925). Central also lost a state championship in 1979.
It will be Waunakee's third appearance at state in school history, having also lost in the semifinals in 2011.