Boys basketball team takes Big 8 lead

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Cody Markel (left) has helped Middleton’s boys basketball team surge to the top of the Big Eight Conference./Photo courtesy of Mary Bavery

Surprise, surprise.

The Big Eight Conference boys basketball season has hit the midway point. And to the astonishment of most folks in the basketball world, Middleton sits alone atop the league.

The Cardinals won a pair of games last week and surged to the head of the Big Eight pack. Middleton defeated Janesville Craig, 74-59, last Thursday and toppled Janesville Parker, 68-46, last Saturday.

Both wins, coupled with minor upsets around the conference, vaulted the Cardinals into first place.

Middleton is now 7-2 in league play and 10-2 overall. The Cardinals are one-half game ahead of Madison Memorial and Madison East (both 7-3). Sun Prairie is one game back at 6-3.

“I guess there are a lot of ways to look at that, but from our team’s perspective we have a long ways to go,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “It’s a bit misleading since we’ve played Parker twice and have yet to play La Follette even though the first round is complete.

“There are six teams within two games of the conference lead and the others just outside of that. But we are doing a lot of good things, many of which go unnoticed as they don't make the box score.”

The Cardinals dominated the Cougars from start to finish.

Middleton raced to an 18-12 lead after the first quarter and stretched it to 43-26 by halftime. The Cardinals unveiled their ‘Grinnell’ offense and used 15 players in the first three minutes of the game.

Middleton knocked down six three-pointers in the first half alone. Senior Jordan Smith had a pair of first half three-pointers and eight total points, while sophomores C.J. Fermanich and Storm Murphy both added six points.

“Yes, three ‘shifts’ of five players right out of the gate is pretty extreme, even for how we’ve been trying to play and for how we're continually trying to speed up the game,” Bavery said. “But it really wasn’t about anything other than establishing pace as well as rewarding players for what they bring to practice on a daily basis.”

Murphy and junior Jacob Ross knocked down three-pointers in the third quarter as Middleton opened up a 57-34 lead by the end of the period. The lead would grow to as many as 25 in the fourth quarter in what turned into an easy win.

Fermanich finished with a team-high 12 points, while Murphy added 11. In all, 13 different Cardinals scored.

Middleton then routed Janesville Parker less than 48 hours later. After a rough start, the Cardinals outscored the Vikings, 58-23, over the final 2 1/2 quarters.

“It was a frustrating first quarter plus, as we simply weren't strong with the basketball around the rim or in putting it on the floor,” Bavery said. “Couple that with not having everyone on the same page with some special actions we wanted to run against their zone or reacting properly to their press break alignments and we were right where we deserved to be in the first 12 minutes of the game.

“Credit our guys for getting back to basics and believing in the process by simply running the court the way we want to run and playing hard. Things started to turn around quickly for us.”

They sure did.

Middleton trailed, 16-10, after the first quarter and 23-10 midway through the second. That’s when the Cardinals exploded.

Middleton finished the second quarter on a 24-6 blitz and grabbed a 34-29 halftime lead. Sophomore forward Tyree Eady had eight points in the second quarter, while junior forward Cody Markel added six.

Middleton stretched its lead to 50-41 heading to the fourth. Then the Cardinals pulled away in the final eight minutes, outscoring Parker, 18-5, in the fourth.

Senior center Ian Hokanson and Markel led the Cardinals with 15 points each, while Eady added 13.

Markel also went 9-of-10 from the free throw line and Middleton went 26-of-33 as a team (78.8%).

“If we can continue to get to the line and cash in like that, especially late in the game, it really makes a difference in being able to close out any game,” Bavery said. “But particularly the close games decided in the final minute.”

• On deck: Middleton hosts Verona Friday at 7:30 p.m. in what will be ‘Youth Basketball Night’ as well as the annual ‘Coaches vs. Cancer’ event. 

On Saturday, the Cardinals travel to Wisconsin Dells to face undefeated and top-ranked Stevens Point at 6:45 p.m. at Just-A-Game Field House.


Jan. 15

Middleton 74, Janesville Craig 59

Janesville Craig ……….……….. 12 14 8 25 — 59

Middleton …………………………. 18 25 14 17 — 74

JANESVILLE CRAIG — Payton 13, Graham 8, Lynch 2, Green 6, Hoppe 4, Wright 5, Gestrich 5, Anhold 3, Brault 5, Smith 4, Negus 4. Totals 21 11-19 59.

MIDDLETON — Schultz 2, Ballweg 3, Joers 6, Smith 8, Hokanson 4, Murphy 11, Thomas 5, Eady 7, Gardner 6, Markel 5, Ross 3, Collien 2, Fermanich 12. Totals 23 20-28 74.

3-point goals — JC 6 (Payton 1, Graham 2, Wright 1, Gestrich 1, Brault 1), M 8 (Ballweg 1, Joers 1, Smith 2, Murphy 2, Thomas 1, Ross 1). Total fouls — JC 27, M 18.


Jan. 17

Middleton 68, Janesville Parker 46

Middleton — Schulz 1, Hokanson 15, Eady 13, Markel 15, Fermanich 6, Joers 1, Gardner 3, Murphy 5, Thomas 2, Ballweg 3, Ross 2, Collien 2. Totals: 18 26-37 68.

Parker — Bailey 5, Shepler 4, Osmond 4, Empereur 7, Brooks 11, Campos 3, Young 5, Zane 4, Yerke 2, Hauger 1. Totals: 15-13-46.

Middleton ………………….. 10 24 16 18—68

Janesville Parker ………….. 16 13 12 5—46

Three-point goals—Middleton 6 (Hokanson 2, Gardner, Murphy, Ballweg, Eady), Parker 3 (Bailey, Empereur, Campos). Total fouls—Middleton 20, Parker 22. Fouled out — Bailey, Osmond.

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