MHS hoping third time's the charm

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Tyree Eady and Middleton's boys basketball team hope their third meeting with Madison Memorial is the charm./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

It’s the matchup they all wanted.

A chance for redemption. An opportunity to silence the doubters.

Middleton’s boys basketball team lost a pair of games to Madison Memorial this season. But the Cardinals were hoping to get another crack at the mighty Spartans.

That chance will come Thursday when Middleton and Memorial meet in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal at Sun Prairie High School at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the sectional finals at Sun Prairie on Saturday at 1 p.m.

“We can’t wait to get them a third time,” Middleton senior forward Myron Ashford Jr. said. “They’ve got us twice this year and we wanted this chance for a long time. So I’m glad it’s them.”

Madison Memorial, the No. 2 seed in the sectional, won a share of its 14th straight Big Eight Conference championship this season. The Spartans (21-3) have won 17 of their last 18 games and routed their two regional opponents by an average of 22.0 points.

Middleton (19-5), the No. 3 seed in the sectional, has won nine of its last 10 games. The Cardinals rolled past Kenosha Bradford, 87-43, in a regional semifinal, but narrowly edged Janesville Craig, 82-79, in the regional finals.

Now, the Cardinals get another swing at the powerful Spartans.

“We want to prove to everybody that we can beat them,” said Middleton senior forward Tyree Eady, who led the Big Eight Conference in scoring at 22.1. “We took two close losses to them this year and we just want to prove to everybody that we can beat them.”

Madison Memorial edged Middleton, 56-53, in an early-season showdown back on Dec. 1. The Spartans’ biggest lead that night was five points and Middleton’s was three.

But Memorial’s stellar defense limited the Cardinals to 33.3% shooting (19-of-57) and the Spartans prevailed.

“They’re one of the best defensive teams we’ve seen,” Eady said. “It’s really hard to get the ball where you want to get it against them. So we’ve just got to be tougher.”

Memorial then came into Middleton and defeated the Cardinals, 53-50, on Jan. 14.

Spartans center Chris Knight — the Big Eight’s Player of the Year and a Dartmouth recruit — led Memorial with 21 points that night. And the taller, more physical Spartans held a 32-17 rebounding edge.

“They’re disciplined,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said of Memorial. “It’s hard to speed ‘em up. It’s probably going to be another grinder.”

Memorial’s defense is as good as anyone in the state, as the Spartans have allowed just 42.8 points per game.

The Spartans boast a front line that includes the 6-foot-8 Knight, 6-foot-7 Matt Caropreso and 6-foot-6 Jake Ferguson. Memorial’s size can frustrate teams inside and its ferocious 1-3-1 defense makes life tough on the perimeter, as well.

Middleton, led by Eady and point guard Storm Murphy (19.6), averages 72.8 points per game. But things have been far tougher against the defensive-minded Spartans, where Middleton is averaging just 51.5 points per game.

“The big thing is we just have to be ready to attack multiple defenses,” Bavery said. “We just know we’re going to see multiple looks. And we have some actions that we like no matter what anybody does.”

Middleton is trying to earn its first trip to the state tournament since 1998 and the sixth in school history. It seems almost fitting that path will have to go through Madison Memorial, a program that has dominated the area for the past 15 years.

But Middleton wants to show it can finally go blow for blow with the Spartans — and wind up victorious.

“I like our chances,” Middleton junior forward Brogan Brunker said. “If we get Tyree going against them, I think we’ve got a hell of a chance. I’ve got confidence in all of our players. Right now, we’re playing some of our best basketball of the year.”

The Cardinals will need that continue Thursday in what shapes up to be another thriller.

 

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