Murphy, Eady power MHS past Verona

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MTT News's picture
Gregg Hammill/Special to the Times-Tribune
Jordan Smith and Middleton's boys basketball team cruised past Verona last Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

First it was Storm Murphy. Then it was Tyree Eady.

Together, the pair of standout sophomores helped Middleton’s boys basketball team put together a dominant first half, en route to an impressive 76-57 Big Eight Conference victory over rival Verona last Friday night.

Murphy and Eady combined for 34 points while converting 12-of-14 field goal attempts in the first half. Murphy made all six of his 3-point attempts in the half, including four in the first period, and Eady scored 16 of his game-high 21 points in the second period.

“We started the game a little sluggish,” Eady said. “We weren’t getting back (on defense), but when Storm Murphy came in and hit those threes, it really sparked us up and sparked me up and I felt good for him. So I just wanted to go out there and play for him and my teammates.”

Middleton improved to 11-2 overall and 8-2 in the Big Eight Conference, one-half game ahead of Madison East and Madison Memorial (8-3) in the league race.

“Big conference win,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “(Verona) was a team that was a preseason No. 3 in the league by all the coaches and we’ve beaten them twice now. They’ve got a lot of firepower, kids that can shoot it, and kids that can take the ball by people.

“They certainly did that to us tonight, but we had enough firepower in the first half and just enough defensive resolve down the stretch where we got some big boards, key stops, got to the line a little bit, and finished a couple times late in the second half to put it away with about three or four minutes to go.”

Picked by many preseason prognosticators to finish in the middle of the Big Eight, the Cardinals continue to use that as fuel against their opponents.

“We always take that as a chip on our shoulder,” Eady said. “Every game, even though we’re No. 1 (in the Big Eight), we still see ourselves as No. 6 in the Big Eight from preseason.

“So we go in there every game and we’ve got to prove everybody wrong no matter what our record is. We see it as still 0-0 in the conference and everybody is right behind us on our tail so we’ve got to keep coming hard every day.”

Added Murphy: “Being predicted as sixth and other people saying, ‘How good of a year are you guys going to have?’ That gave us a chip on our shoulder and a mentality that we’re in this and we’re deep. We have a lot of great talent, a great philosophy, a great coaching staff, and we’re in it to win it. We’re going to bring our effort every single game.”

After a slow start, Murphy got the Cardinals going. With his team trailing 6-5, the 5-foot-9 guard drilled four consecutive 3-pointers to give Middleton a 17-12 advantage. Middleton settled for an 18-16 lead at the end of the first period.

“I just had space,” Murphy said. “Coach talked before the game in the locker room about how confidence was a key, and if we have a shot, don’t be afraid to shoot it. I was just confident right off the bat and I was open so I just knocked them down.”

After Verona (7-7 overall, 4-7 league) tied the game at 18 on a layup by Cole Schmitz, Eady nailed a 3-pointer and added a layup off a turnover in the backcourt. A free throw by Hokanson made it 25-18, but the Wildcats answered with baskets by Schmitz and Avery Fossum.

Eady drilled another 3-pointer, and after a Verona free throw, senior Kellan Schulz sparked an 11-0 run by the Cardinals. Schulz hustled to rebound his own miss and fired a pass out to Murphy, who connected on his fifth 3-pointer of the game.

“Kellan got the offensive rebound, and when that happens, we scatter. So I scattered out to the 3-point line,” Murphy said. “I got that open pass. He found me, great pass, went right the pocket, and I just knocked it down.”

In full-press mode, Eady converted two consecutive steals into baskets and added two free throws off another Verona turnover as Middleton’s lead ballooned to 39-23.

“It all starts with the momentum we have in game when we play defense,” Eady said. “I think I got a steal, two straight steals, that just really boosted me up and I was just like, ‘OK, now we can get rolling.’ That feeds off of our defense pretty much.”

Verona broke Middleton’s press early on to score some easy baskets, but eventually, the Cardinals’ depth and persistence paid off.

“That’s the good thing about the way we play,” Eady said. “I mean, it can kill us sometimes. But sometimes, when we’re on fire, we stretch the lead. The other team was really tired by the way they were playing and we just got up on them because we have such a deep rotation. No one cares who scores. We just play as a team.”

Eady capped the first half with a driving layup to give the Cardinals a commanding 48-28 advantage. Behind Eady’s 16-point effort on 6-of-7 shooting, Middleton outscored Verona 30-12 in the second period.

“Tyree went on a stretch,” Bavery said. “He’s a kid we’ve been trying for him to just catch and pull all year. He’s so skilled with his ability to put the ball on the floor and get by people that he tends to hold and wait for that opportunity.

“We just try to get him into more of a catch and shoot mode. We pulled tonight and he was tough one-on-one on the ball in the press. He was able to pick a couple guys clean.”

Middleton connected on 16-of-29 field goals (55 percent), including 9-of-16 from 3-point range, and committed just one turnover in the first half.

“If we could play a whole game like we played in the first half, we’d be a heck of a team at some point before it’s over,” said Bavery.

The Cardinals stayed hot from long range in the third quarter as Hokanson, Andrew Gardner, and Eady each connected on 3-pointers to give Middleton a 57-30 advantage. Verona got within 59-42 on a 3-pointer by Kwan Clements, but the Cardinals’ C.J. Fermanich scored off an inbounds pass in the lane just before the third period buzzer to make it 61-42.

“Even though it didn’t seem big at the time, they were making a run and we put C.J. back in the lineup for a little inbound lob at the end of the quarter and that was a big basket,” Bavery said. “All of a sudden it was back to 19 and it took a little air out of them.”

Verona used an 8-2 run to close within 63-50, but a 3-pointer by Fermanich — Middleton’s 13th of the contest — ignited a 9-0 run by the Cardinals and finished the Wildcats.

Middleton made 14 3-point shots, led by Murphy’s 6-for-6 performance.

“When you have the incredible half by Storm what can you say?” Bavery said. “Six threes. Some were created by teammates and some were created on his own.

“He really has that ability to step in with the dribble and step back and create space. Creating space is just a huge, huge ability to have and to transition that move right into a shot especially if they didn’t respect it.”

Fermanich added 10 points and Hokanson had nine points for the Cardinals. Schmitz paced Verona with 13 points.

• Big bucks: More than $2,000 was raised from a two-minute bucket pass during halftime for the Coaches vs. Cancer program. Those honored at halftime included Jackson Pagel, a member of the Cardinals’ freshman basketball team who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma — a cancerous bone tumor — in October; and Corky Cook, age 81, a daycare provider who was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer and started chemotherapy last February.


Jan. 23

Middleton 76, Verona 57

Verona ………………….. 16  12  14  15 — 57

Middleton ………....…. 18  30  13  15 — 76

VERONA – Cole Schmitz 6-12 1-6 13, Keaton Knueppel 3-3 0-0 6, Will Kellerman 3-4 3-4 9, Jake Toman 5-6 1-2 11, Nathaniel Buss 1-6 0-0 2, Avery Fossum 2-3 1-2 5, Kwan Clements 1-5 3-4 6, Tyler Hallmark 0-2 1-2 1, Casey McClure 0-3 1-2 1, Austin Lois 1-1 0-2 3, Josh Hernandez 0-1 0-0 0, Maurice Richmond 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-47 11-24 57.

MIDDLETON – Ian Hokanson 3-5 2-2 9, CJ Fermanich 2-8 4-6 10, Tyree Eady 7-9 4-4 21, Mitch Bacon 0-2 0-0 0, Cody Markel 1-1 0-0 2, Cam Maly 0-2 0-0 0, Kellan Schulz 1-8 0-0 3, Storm Murphy 6-10 0-0 18, Tyler Ballweg 0-1 0-0 0, Andrew Gardner 1-2 1-2 4, Jordan Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Brett Joers 3-3 0-0 6, Jacob Ross 0-0 0-0 0, Max Collien 0-0 1-1 1, Blake Sprecher 0-0 0-0 0, Brennan Schmitt 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 25-52 12-15 76.

3-point goals – V 2 (Clements, Lois). M 13 (Murphy 6, Eady 3, Hokanson, Schulz, Fermanich, Schmitt). Total fouls – V 15, M 20.

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