Madison Memorial topples MHS

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Tyree Eady (left) and Middleton’s boys basketball team fell to Madison Memorial last Thursday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Storm Murphy stood in a nearly empty locker room last Thursday and put his Wofford College shirt on backwards. On this night, Middleton’s senior point guard didn’t feel like the best representative for Terriers’ basketball

“That wasn’t me,” Murphy said.

A few feet away, senior forward Tyree Eady sat for 15 minutes with his head down. Finally, Middleton assistant coach Jerry Raffel gave the Cardinals’ standout forward a pep talk and the two headed to the bus.

The calendar read December, but this was March basketball. And Middleton took its 56-53 setback against host Madison Memorial as hard as it would a sectional final.

“I was more hyped for this than any game in a long time,” said Murphy, who will play at Wofford next season. “This is a tough one.”

The Cardinals and Spartans know each other as well as any two teams in the state.

The schools are separated by 2.8 miles. Many of the athletes have competed against each other for more than a decade.

The two teams shared the Big Eight Conference title with Sun Prairie last season. And with both the Cardinals and Spartans bringing back their starting lineups and extremely experienced teams, it led to a terrific early-season contest.

“That was a March game,” Madison Memorial coach Steve Collins said. “That might have been the best first game I’ve seen in this gym. Usually first games are sloppy, there’s turnovers. These were two really good basketball teams and veteran teams.”

Memorial’s biggest lead was five points. Middleton’s was three.

And this nailbiter wasn’t decided until Murphy’s 28-footer at the horn bounced off the back rim.

“We had some chances to win it down the stretch,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “But it just never felt like we were going to get it.

“It was just one of those nights where it never felt like you were going to get it. It’s all about how the ball’s moving, how you’re blocking out, all those things. You either get a really good feeling or a bad one. I never had a good feeling in this one.”

One reason for that is Memorial’s defense was sublime — while Middleton’s offense was stagnant.

Collins mixed and matched five different defenses that gave the Cardinals fits. Middleton’s ball movement also wasn’t good enough and the Cardinals shot just 19-of-57 from the floor (33.3%).

Murphy led the Cardinals with 15 points, but hit just 5-of-16 field goals (31.3%). Eady, a North Dakota State recruit, had a rough night himself hitting just 3-of-13 shots (23.1%) and finishing with nine points.

With the Cardinals’ terrific tandem struggling, senior wing Myron Ashford Jr. picked up the slack, scoring all 11 of his points in the second half and drilling three three-pointers. Junior forward Davis Roquet also made a pair of three-pointers and had eight points.

“To me we didn’t move the ball enough,” Bavery said. “We’re just not moving it early on here. A real frustration I’m having early in the year is I’m seeing a different team on the floor than the one we practice with. We’re just not getting that thing moving the way we need to.

“Part of it is trusting. It’s different seeing the game as a player on the floor than as coaches. But we’ve just got to trust it, because, like I said, we’re seeing a different team on the floor than the one in practice. It’s like our mind is racing too fast.”

Murphy agreed — on some levels.

“I just think our heads are above ourselves right now,” Murphy said. “Our heads are too high. I think this will be really great for us. This is a blessing in disguise.

“I know that no one can stop me unless I take myself out of the game. I know no one can guard me. I know no one can guard Tyree. We just lost to ourselves tonight.”

Memorial, which has a front line that averages 6-foot-7, did plenty to stymie the Cardinals, as well.

The Spartans held the Cardinals to 9-of-32 shooting in the first half (28.1%) and took a 25-24 halftime lead. Murphy had nine points at the break, while Roquet hit a pair of three-pointers and had six points.

Memorial standout center Chris Knight — a Dartmouth recruit — picked up his third foul with 14:37 left and went to the bench. Middleton quickly answered with a 5-0 run and took its first lead of the night at 32-29 after a three-point play by Murphy.

But Knight returned and scored six of his game-high 16 points during a 10-2 run that gave the Spartans a 39-34 lead with 7:14 left.

“He’s a really good player,” Collins said of Knight. “He’s one of the best players around and I think we have a lot of good guys to go around him. (Knight) is such a team guy and he’s so about ‘us.’ Sometimes I have to get on him more to take over.”

Middleton wouldn’t go away, though.

Ashford Jr. drilled a pair of three-pointers in a 95-second window and pulled the Cardinals within 42-40 with 4:36 left.

“We’re always working with catch and shoot, so I’m always ready,” Ashford Jr. said. “Coach always says if Storm and Tyree aren’t feeling it, someone has to step up. I guess I tried to step up for us.”

Knight answered with five points as Memorial extended its advantage to 51-46 with one minute left. But Murphy attacked Knight and drew a fifth foul on the Spartans’ standout with 38.6 seconds left.

That gave the Cardinals brief glimmer of hope, and layups by senior forward Jack Smith and Eady pulled Middleton within 54-53 with 9.5 seconds left.

Memorial senior guard Billy Wilson drained two free throws with 7.3 seconds left to give the Spartans a three-point lead.

Murphy got a good look and his shot appeared dead-on.

But like many of Middleton’s shots on this night, it simply wasn’t in the cards.

“I thought it was down,” Murphy said. “I started smiling.

“But it wasn’t just that shot. I felt like I had a pretty bad game. It wasn’t pretty. We just need to worry about us and we’re just not there yet.”

Ashford Jr. agreed.

“I feel like if we shared the ball a little bit more it would have been different,” he said. “On defense, we just have to talk. But I think we’ll be all right. It just hurts right now.”


Middleton ……………….. 24 29 — 53

Madison Memorial …….. 25 31 — 56

MIDDLETON — Ashford 4 0-0 11, Eady 3 3-3 9, Fermanich 1 0-0 2, Jackson 1 0-0 2, Murphy 5 5-7 15, Roquet 2 2-2 8, Smith 3 0-0 6. Totals 19 10-12 53.

MADISON MEMORIAL — Bennett 1 3-4 5, Brown 3 0-0 6, M. Caropreso 5 0-1 10, Ferguson 3 5-6 11, Knecht 2-4 2, Knight 3 10-14 16, Wilson 1 4-6 6. Totals 16 24-35 56.

3-point goals — MM 0, Mi 5 (Ashford 3, Roquet 2). Total fouls— MM 13, Mi 26.


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