Middleton tops East in OT

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MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel
Derek Rongstad and Middleton's boys basketball team edged Madison East in overtime Thursday night./Photo courtesy of Mary Bavery

Kevin Bavery had waxed poetically for nearly 17 minutes.

Middleton’s boys basketball coach had talked about the toughness, courage, resilience and grit his Cardinals showed in a thrilling 81-79 overtime win over visiting Madison East Thursday night.

Then the boss chimed in.

“Kevin,” said Bavery’s wife. “We have a grandson at home.”

With that, an exhilarating night for Bavery and his Cardinals was done. But what a night it was.

Middleton lost a 15-point halftime lead, blew a 7-point advantage in the final minute, then needed a Derek Rongstad free throw to force overtime tied at 75. The Purgolders scored the first four points of O.T., but Middleton closed the game on a 6-0 run to notch arguably its most exciting win of the year.

Senior forward Kade Schultz hit six three-pointers and led the Cardinals with 18 points. Rongstad had 17 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter alone.

Junior forward Max Oelerich added 17 points, including the game-winning basket with 40 seconds left. And junior forward Derek Rogeberg came off the bench to score 10 points, including four straight in overtime after the Cardinals had dug an early hole.

Madison East sophomore center De’Shawn Burks led all scorers with 23 points, including 20 in the second half.

“It’s a great win,” Rogeberg said. “Even at the end, I thought we played every possession like it was any other minute of the game.

“I just think it says a lot about our team, that we’re a really tough team. We showed that.”

Middleton improved to 9-7 overall, 8-5 in the Big Eight Conference and remained in third place in the league. Madison East slipped to 7-8, 6-6.

“When they fought back, we really kept our composure,” said Schultz, who set a new career-high with 18 points. “It was tiring. They play really hard. But I thought we did a great job.”


Middleton held a 73-66 lead with just more than a minute left in the game. But East — arguably the toughest and most physical team the Cardinals will play this year — refused to go away.

The Purgolders answered with an 8-0 run over a 59 second stretch and took a 75-74 lead with 7.9 seconds left. Along the way, East had a four-point play when Middleton twice failed to grab the rebound off missed free throws. Then East’s Jermel McLin drilled a pair of free throws to give the Purgolders their first lead since 14-13.

“We told our guys at halftime that East would make a run,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “The question was how would we answer their run?”

Turns out Bavery got the answer he wanted.

Middleton inbounded to Rongstad, who raced the ball down the left sideline and attacked the rim. Rongstad drew a foul with 2.9 seconds left, went to the line for two shots, but missed the first.

That left Rongstad 0-for-3 from the line on the night.

“At that point in the game, there wasn’t time to be nervous,” Rongstad said. “Even though I missed the first, the second is still easier than the first. You’ve kind of got the feel then.”

Rongstad did, drilling the second foul shot and sending the game to overtime.

But the hard-charging Purgolders kept the momentum and scored the first four points of overtime. And when Middleton turned the ball over on its first three possessions, East surged to a 79-75 lead.

“We just had to go possession by possession,” Rogeberg said. “In the back of my head, I always thought we’d prevail.”

Rogeberg was a big reason why.

Rongstad found Rogeberg for a lay-up on the left block with 1:50 left that trimmed the Cardinals’ deficit to 79-77. Then the same combination clicked again, as Rogeberg scored from the same spot with 1:25 left to tie the game, 79-79.

“Obviously those were big,” Bavery said. “To get to that position on the floor, and then finish, is huge.”

The Cardinals got another stop, then Oelerich had a rebound basket with 40 seconds left to give Middleton an 81-79 lead.

East took two timeouts, the final one coming with 5.1 seconds left. The Purgolders then went to junior guard Dequan Seymour (14 points), who was being defended by Oelerich. Seymour took a pull-up 12-footer, but missed as time expired.

“After the (Madison) Memorial game, I just think we really know how to play in the last minute,” said Rongstad, referring to a controversial 62-60 loss to the Spartans on Jan. 10. “When we need big buckets, we know what to do now.

“I think our defense in the overtime was really good and we never panicked when we got behind. I think this just shows how much we’ve grown up in the last couple months.”

There were signs of Middleton’s growth all night. The Cardinals, who lost at East, 61-53 on Dec. 7, jumped on the Purgolders early on.

Schultz hit three three-pointers in the first 2:40 of the game, and his nine-point barrage helped the Cardinals race to a 9-2 lead. East answered with a 12-4 run to take a 14-13 lead, but the Cardinals surged ahead, 19-16, by the end of the first quarter.

Middleton led, 21-19, early in the second quarter when it went on an 18-5 run and grabbed a 39-24 edge. Oelerich scored five points at the start of the run and Rongstad knocked down a three-ball.

But Schultz led the charge with back-to-back three pointers — his fourth and fifth of the first half — to cap the run. On the first, Schultz freed up in the right corner and knocked down a three-ball. On the second, Schultz moved to the left corner and drilled a three-pointer from there.

In all, Schultz made five-of-six three pointers in the first half and had 15 points at the break. And his red-hot shooting helped the Cardinals grab a 41-26 halftime lead.

“Before the game, I knew I had the green light,” said Schultz, who moved into the starting lineup because of an injury to Demond Hill. “I feel confident with my shot and really felt confident after I hit a couple.”

The gritty Purgolders wouldn’t go away, though.

Madison East trailed, 51-34, midway through the third quarter. But the Purgolders answered with a 13-0 run in just 2:40 and closed within 51-47.

During East’s burst, it scored on six of seven possessions. Middleton, meanwhile, had four straight turnovers at one point and shot 0-for-3 during that stretch.

“I tried to let our guys play through it as long as I could,” said Bavery, who didn’t call a timeout until East’s run was at 10-0. “It’s probably easy to sit in the stands and say, ‘What the heck is he doing?’ But we wanted our guys to play through it.”

East kept charging and tied the game, 58-58, early in the fourth quarter. The game was still knotted at 66 with 2:35 left when Middleton went on a 7-0 run and appeared to grab total control.

Rongstad started the burst with a cold-blooded three-pointer just to the right of the top of the key. Rongstad then hit a 5-foot floater and Tyler Markel had a spinning lay-up as Middleton took a 73-66 lead.

“I was definitely trying to do a little more there,” Rongstad said. “I was able to get some good looks … and kind of got it going.”

That set the stage for East’s dramatic rally, the Purgolders’ surge at the start of overtime, and Middleton’s impressive comeback.

“We won the game in the first half, then survived their big run in the second half,” Bavery said. “And I’m extremely happy with the win. We really gutted it out.”


Jan. 24

Middleton 81, Madison East 79 (OT)

Madison East ……………… 16 10 23 26 4 — 79

Middleton ………………….. 19 22 13 21 6 — 81

MADISON EAST — Alex Redd 5-13 0-0 13, Jermel McLin 4-7 2-3 10, Dequan Seymore 6-13 1-5 14, Emani Brathwaite 0-2 0-0 0, De’Shawn Burks 10-14 3-6 23, Miles Kietzer 2-2 0-0 5, Daniel Karlin-Kamin 3-5 1-1 8, Deang Deang 1-1 0-0 2, Treveon Wright 1-3 0-0 2, Martin Lackey 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 33-65 7-15 79.

MIDDLETON — Luke Schafer 2-6 1-2 5, Max Oelerich 4-8 9-9 17, Derek Rongstad 7-13 1-4 17, Kade Schultz 6-13 0-0 18, Andrew Torresani 4-5 0-0 8, Tyler Markel 1-4 0-1 2, Kenji Passini 1-5 2-2 4, Chris Little 0-0 0-0 0, Derek Rogeberg 5-7 0-0 10, Max Waelti 0-2 0-0 0, Ian Hokanson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 30-63 13-18 81.

3-point goals — ME 6 (Redd 3, Seymore 1, Karlin-Kamin 1, Kietzer 1), M 8 (Rongstad 2, Schultz 6). Total fouls — ME 20, M 22.


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