The WIAA goes back to 1916 to determine the beginning of its boys basketball program.
Athletic directors of the Wisconsin Normal Schools (later known as Teachers Colleges and now part of the State University system) started a tournament program in 1916, and the winners of these tournaments were recognized as state champions.
The WIAA did not take over operation of the tournament program until the 1919-20 school year.
Lawrence College of Appleton conducted invitational high school basketball tournaments from 1905 to 1918. The 1905 meet was the first State Tournament in basketball conducted in the United States.
The Lawrence Invitational and the Normal Schools tournament ran in competition with each other from 1916 to 1918.
Counting 1916 as the first tournament, the first WIAA champion was Fond du Lac, which defeated Grand Rapids (now Wisconsin Rapids), 22-7, in the championship game.
Except for 1936 when the State Tournament was held at Wisconsin Rapids, the site of the tournament has been the University of Wisconsin in Madison since 1920. The UW Field House was used until the tournament moved into the Kohl Center in 1998.
WIAA basketball was a one-class program until 1934 when for two years (1934 and 1935) there were two classes. It increased to three classes for four years (1936-39), then reverted to one class again in 1940.
The tournament remained one class until 1972 when it returned to a two-class format. It became three classes in 1974. The tournament series changed to a four division format in the 1990-91 season, and after a two-year experimental period became permanent in 1992-93. Classes were also re-named divisions in 1990-91. In 2011, a fifth division was added and restructuring of the divisions qualified four teams in each division.
Superior Central holds the record for most appearances at the State Tournament with 27. Beloit has appeared in 26, and Eau Claire and Neenah are next with 25. Wisconsin Rapids is next on the list with 22.
There have been 108 different schools that have won championships. Randolph has the most titles with 10. Beloit is next with seven, followed by Milwaukee King, Milwaukee Vincent, Milwaukee Lincoln and Racine St. Catherine's having each won five titles. Aquinas, Dominican, Fond du Lac, Kohler, Marathon, Milwaukee Washington, Shawano and Superior have won four each; then comes Cassville, Cuba City, Eau Claire Memorial, Fall Creek, Madison La Follette, Madison Memorial, Neenah, Oostburg, Seymour, Stevens Point, Wausau East, Wauwatosa East and Whitefish Bay with three.
Randolph is the only school to have won four straight championships (2002-05). Beloit (1932-34), Marathon (1975-77), Milwaukee Vincent (1996-98) and Racine St. Catherine's (2005-07) have won three straight championships.
Not including those that have won three and four straight titles, the feat of winning two consecutive titles has been achieved 32 times. Also, State champions have posted an undefeated record 43 times. Randolph has recorded the most wins in a season of any champion with 29, compiled during the 2010 season.
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