Middleton knocks off Madison Memorial

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
C.J. Fermanich and Middleton's boys basketball team knocked off Madison Memorial last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The 18 players that make up Middleton’s boys basketball team gathered together for a “Come-to-Jesus Moment” last Friday afternoon.

Differences were discussed. Issues were addressed. This players-only-meeting had one overriding goal: to reverse the Cardinals’ recent slide.

“We just got together and focused on the areas we had gotten too relaxed in,” said junior forward Tyree Eady. “We were winning all those games at the start, and now we started losing. Our mistakes were more noticeable now. We had to get it fixed.”

Mission accomplished.

In a showdown for first place in the Big Eight Conference, Middleton went to league power Madison Memorial and stunned the Spartans, 77-63, last Saturday. Cardinals junior point guard Storm Murphy scored a game-high 26 points, while Eady added 25.

Middleton, which began the year 14-0 but had lost three of four since, improved to 15-3 overall and stayed tied atop the league with Sun Prairie at 12-3. The Cardinals also swept the Spartans for the first time since the 2000-’01 season.

Memorial, which has won at least a share of 12 straight conference titles, slipped to 12-6, 11-4 and into third place in the league. Spartans junior center Chris Knight had 18 points and eight rebounds, while junior guard Billy Wilson added 17 points.

“This is really special,” Murphy said. “No matter who’s on Memorial, they’re always a great team. They’re coached well, and they just have that chip on their shoulder from being such a great team all these years. So that’s huge for us.”

Middleton played with greater urgency than it had in some time.

The Cardinals raced to leads of 17-6 and 34-17 and were in control throughout. Just 48 hours earlier, Middleton fell into a 20-4 hole at Sun Prairie and never recovered.

“We had to recapture the fun and take all the pressure off of these guys,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “Whether that’s pressure from school, pressure from well-meaning parents that want you to do well, whether it’s pressure from social media. All that stuff.

“We just had to wrap a bubble around the team and not listen to any of the noise. We told them, ‘Let’s just do what we do, do it together and do it at a really high level.’ ”

The Cardinals did that from start to finish in arguably their most meaningful win of Bavery’s 10-year tenure.

Amazingly, Middleton made its first seven shots and raced to a 17-6 lead just 5:09 into the game and forced Spartans coach Steve Collins to call a quick timeout. Murphy had seven points in the early burst, Eady had five, while junior guard Myron Ashford drained a three-pointer and sophomore forward Brogan Brunker added two.

“That was huge,” Murphy said. “To start strong, I’d say we’re decent at maintaining leads. But that’s huge for us because coming back is so much harder.”

Memorial began making a dent in Middleton’s lead and clawed back within 22-16 with 6 minutes left in the first half. But the Cardinals smacked the Spartans with a 12-1 burst and grabbed a 34-17 lead.

Eady started the fun with a rebound basket, then senior guard Brady Thomas scored a fast break basket. Murphy drilled two free throws and a deep three-pointer, then Ashford drained a three-ball that gave the Cardinals a 17-point advantage.

That run helped Middleton grab a 37-25 halftime lead. The Cardinals shot a blistering 51.8% from the floor in the first half (14-of-27) and made a scintillating 63.6% of their three-pointers (7-of-11).

Murphy had 14 of his points in the first half, while Eady had seven and Ashford added six.

“We’ve had a pattern on not trusting our teammates during our little losing streak,” Bavery said. “I thought that was a lot better (Saturday). I thought it helped us get off to a fast start and get a lead. But you knew a team like Memorial would make a run.”

The Spartans did exactly that.

The dynamic Eady got the Cardinals off to a fast start to begin the second half. Eady drilled a three-pointer on Middleton’s first possession of the half, then converted a traditional three-point play as the Cardinals’ lead grew to 43-25.

Middleton’s advantage reached 48-29 — its largest lead of the night — with 12 minutes left. But Memorial had an answer.

The Spartans extended their 1-3-1 defense, trapped the ball high and gave the Cardinals fits in the halfcourt. Memorial’s terrific defense helped it go on a 14-2 burst and pull within 50-43 with 7:22 left.

“They’re a great team,” Murphy said. “We knew it wouldn't be easy.”

It wasn’t, but the Cardinals weathered the storm — thanks in large part to both Eady and Murphy.

After a timeout, Eady attacked the baseline and scored to push Middleton’s lead to 55-46. One possession later, Eady drove to the basket again, scored was fouled and made the free throw as Middleton’s lead hit 58-48 with 2:29 remaining.

“Big time players make big time players,” Bavery said of Eady. “We needed something like that and Tyree’s a guy who can make those plays.”

Murphy agreed.

“Tyree is just a crazy smart, athletic, skilled player,” Murphy said. “He can do it all and he can be unstoppable at times.”

Memorial pulled as close as six points down the stretch. But Murphy made 12-of-14 free throws in the final 2:11 — including four straight after a technical foul on Collins — and the Cardinals pulled away.

“We definitely needed a night like this,” Eady said. “All of us needed this. We were 1-3 in our last (four) games and we needed a big push like this to show we still are one of the best teams.”

Bavery agreed.

“Our big message was, if you love the game, the game will love you back,” he said. “There were some magical moments out there. We shared the ball and played our (tails) off. And you know what, having fun is beating Memorial.”

 

Feb. 13

Middleton 77, Madison Memorial 63

Middleton …………………..……. 37 40 — 77

Madison Memorial …………… 25 38 — 63

MIDDLETON — Ashford 2 0-0 6, Brunker 1 4-6 6, Eady 9 4-4 25, Fermanich 1 0-0 3, Markel 1 0-0 2, Murphy 5 14-16 26, Raffel 1 0-1 2, Ripp 1 2-2 5, Thomas 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 24-29 77.

MADISON MEMORIAL — Caropreso 3 3-9 9, Ferguson 2 5-6 9, Goodwan 0 0-1 0, Knecht 2 4-6 10, Knight 8 2-3 18, Wilson 5 5-6 17. Totals 20 19-30 63.

3-point goals — MID 9 (Ashford 2, Eady 3, Fermanich 1, Murphy 2, Ripp 1), MM 4 (Knecht 2, Wilson 2). Total fouls—MID 20, MM 16.

 

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