The Madison East high school girls’ basketball team is looking to avenge two regular-season losses and hoping that the third time is a charm as they face off against Big Eight rival Sun Prairie, currently ranked 5th in the state, in the sectionals on Thursday. Both teams won their WIAA Division 1 regional finals this weekend.

On Saturday night, East (18-6) had to beat crosstown rival Madison Memorial for the third time this season to advance. The Purgolders started slowly but pulled away, 60-42, to win their WIAA Division 1 regional final and to set up Thursday sectional match-up at La Follette High School.

“Any time that we go against Memorial it’s going to be a high-level, very energetic, and fast-paced event. Early on, I think both teams were a little nervous. There were some easy shots missed,” Madison East Coach James Adams tells Madison365. “Both teams know each other very well from playing against each other and with each other during their youth days. That’s what makes it very competitive – it’s an east side/west side rivalry going on.”

Purgolder standout senior Erin Howard, who has committed to play at Auburn University next year, scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the win over the Spartans. “Memorial was athletic and fast. We learned in the first game that it would be tough to get up and down with them,” Adams says. “But when we schemed, we knew that they were missing a dominant player like Erin Howard. The game plan was that Erin must get 50-100 times in a game. If they are going to beat us, they better stop Erin.”

East is now looking ahead to Sun Prairie (22-2), who beat Verona 51-33 at Sun Prairie Field House in a WIAA Division 1 regional final on Saturday night. Junior Elle Moore shared team-high scoring honors with senior Jayda Jansen, both scoring 15 points for the Cardinals.

Sun Prairie dominated Verona to win their WIAA Division 1 Regional Championship this past weekend.

“They’ve had our number. It’s been four regular-season meetings and four wins for them the last couple of years,” Adams says, although East beat Sun Prairie in the playoffs last year. “Jayda [Jansen] has really had our number. But we’re just focused on what we need to do each game at a time. I told the girls at the beginning of the playoffs that this is a new season. We’re going to take it one game at a time and hopefully, we meet expectations.”

Sun Praire is led by point guard Jayda Jansen, who earned Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division 1 All-State first-team and Associated Press All-State honorable mention honors last year as a junior.

“We’re both very confident teams and both coaches are very confident. We finished 1-2 in the conference,” Adams says. “Sun Prairie is a very good team and they play well together and they have an X-factor in Jada Jensen. Our goal is to neutralize her. It’s going to be tough, but we’re going to do what we do and try to get the win.”

Madison East will meet Sun Prairie in a Thursday sectional meeting against Sun Prairie at Madison La Follette. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. If Madison East or Sun Prairie make it through the weekend in their sectional, they will be headed to the W.I.A.A. State Playoffs.