The boys basketball teams of the Chippewa Valley are anxiously awaiting the start of their respective seasons. As you look to plan out your viewing schedule, here are eight conference matchups worthy of circling on the calendar.
Spring Valley vs. Elk Mound: Just one game separated the Cardinals and Mounders in the Dunn-St. Croix standings last winter, with Spring Valley prevailing to win the conference crown. Backed by Tyler Bowman, the Cards remain the DSC favorite. The likes of Kaden Russo and Ryan Bartig have Elk Mound among their biggest threats. The teams play in Elk Mound on Jan. 21 and in Spring Valley to close the regular season on Feb. 24.
Eau Claire Memorial vs. Eau Claire North: The Old Abes are the favorite in the Big Rivers this year, but you can always throw out the records in the city game. The squads met three times last year, including in the regional finals. After splitting the regular season matchups, the Huskies were the victors in the playoffs to secure the season series. This year the teams play at Memorial on Dec. 10 and at North on Feb. 5.
Altoona & Bloomer vs. new conferences: The Railroaders and Blackhawks will both be lining up against new squads this winter thanks to Altoona’s move to the Middle Border and Bloomer’s into the Western Cloverbelt. The Blackhawks start their new era right away, opening at home against new conference rival Thorp on Dec. 2, while Altoona kicks off Middle Border play in its second game on Dec. 3 at Somerset. The Rails’ first home Middle Border game comes four days later against Osceola. Also changing places was New Richmond, which will play its first Big Rivers game on Dec. 3 at Menomonie.
Regis vs. Fall Creek: The Ramblers finished last year incredibly strong to secure the second place spot in the Western Cloverbelt behind the Crickets. Still, Fall Creek won the conference by two games. Both squads are expected to compete for the league crown again this winter despite both losing key pieces to graduation. The teams play in Fall Creek on Dec. 21 and at Regis on Feb. 4.
Whitehall vs. Melrose-Mindoro: The Mustangs and Norse finished second and third, respectively, in the Dairyland Large last year. Graduations at Blair-Taylor create an opportunity for a new champion, and the squads are the clear favorites among coaches. M-M’s Tristen McRoberts and Whitehall’s Devon McCune are a big reason why. The teams play at Melrose-Mindoro on Dec. 7 and in Whitehall on Feb. 4.
Eau Claire Memorial vs. Hudson: This matchup will feature a pair of players already committed to play at the Division II level, Old Abe Will Boser (Concordia St. Paul) and Raider Andre Renta (St. Cloud State). Both teams are also expected to be at the top of the Big Rivers standings, with Memorial serving as the league favorite. Memorial hosts the matchup on Dec. 17 and Hudson takes its turn on Jan. 28.
Cameron vs. Northwestern: The Comets went undefeated in Heart O’ North play last winter but graduate some serious talent. Now the Tigers are the favorite, and they’ll get a chance to prove they deserve to sit atop the league. Cameron lost its starting lineup but has talented players coming up to help fill the hole. The teams play in Cameron on Jan. 13 and in Maple on Feb. 21.
Bruce vs. Flambeau: The Red Raiders are looking to defend their conference title in the expanded East Lakeland this winter. Perhaps their greatest challenger is Flambeau, which returns the lone all-conference first team selection back in the fold in Harley Opachan. The teams play in Bruce on Jan. 11 and in Flambeau on Feb. 10.