Boys basketball cupboard far from bare

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Davis Roquet will take on a much greater role next season for Middleton’s boys basketball team./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

One of the finest senior classes in school history is gone.

A group that helped produce back-to-back 19-win seasons. A class that included two all-state players in Tyree Eady and Storm Murphy and a four-year varsity contributor in C.J. Fermanich.

So, the 2017-’18 season will undoubtedly be a challenging one for Middleton’s boys basketball team, right?

Don’t tell that to Cardinals’ head coach Kevin Bavery.

“I think we’re going to be the surprise of the Big Eight,” Bavery said. “No one will expect us to be in the mix of top teams with all the players we graduate.”

Before we look ahead at a group Bavery believes will surprise, let’s take a final look on the gifted group that’s exiting the program.

Middleton finished the year 19-6 overall and was third in the Big Eight Conference at 13-5. The Cardinals lost to just three teams all season: Madison Memorial (three times), Beloit Memorial (twice) and Sun Prairie.

Middleton routed eventual WIAA Division 1 state champion Stevens Point, 96-66, on Feb. 14. The Cardinals also defeated state runner-up Hartland Arrowhead in January.

In the postseason, though, all 10 schools from the Big Eight are placed in the same sectional. That means just one team from arguably the hardest league in the state can reach the state tournament.

“It’s too bad really, when you look at the overall level of competition in the Big Eight and you know only one team has a chance to make it to the Kohl Center,” Bavery said. “I still don’t understand the switch to five divisions of four teams, as so much great basketball never makes it to the state tournament.

“Volleyball is still 8-4-4-4, as is baseball, plus baseball routinely can get three Big Eight teams to the state tournament level. A lot of Big Eight and Division 1 coaches, including myself, are advocates of three divisions of eight teams each, but it always falls on deaf ears unfortunately. So it becomes a conference tournament along with throwing in quality teams from the southeast part of the state.

“It was difficult seeing two teams in the championship game that we had defeated. Knowing that had we gotten there we had a real chance to do some damage, with a legitimate chance to win it all.”

Middleton averaged a school record 74.3 points per game and allowed just 56.3, a differential of 18.0 points per game. The Cardinals scored more than 90 points four times, including a school record 96 twice.

The Cardinals set a school-record for three-point shots made (211) and shot 35.0% from behind the arc. Middleton also forced 16.5 turnovers per game and committed 11.5 for a difference of 5.0.

“We had all the ingredients and when we put it all together no one was better, or more exciting to watch,” Bavery said.

Senior forward Tyree Eady was named first-team all-state by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. Eady finished his career as Middleton’s all-time leading scorer (1,349) and also set a new school record for career steals (178).

Senior point guard Storm Murphy was named honorable-mention all-state by the WBCA. Murphy finished his career with 1,094 points and became the school’s all-time leader in assists with 280.

“Irreplaceable,” Bavery said of his dynamic duo. “Tyree was able to score in the post, at the rim, from the perimeter, and at the free throw line. Storm is a once in a lifetime player with the highest overall skill set I have been privileged to see day in and day out. They will be sorely missed.”

C.J. Fermanich was a four-year varsity player and Middleton’s defensive stopped. Jack Smith, Myron Ashford Jr. and Ben Jackson all played key roles this season, while others such a Brett Wipfli, Parker Sigmon and Cinti Francesco brought leadership and selflessness.

“This group will be missed,” Bavery said of his graduating seniors.

But Bavery believes the cupboard is far from bare.

Junior Brogan Brunker missed much of the season due to illness, but helped the Cardinals immensely down the stretch. Brunker should now be poised for a big senior season.

Bavery believes junior Davis Roquet has the potential to become an aggressive scorer, while junior Alan Roden is the epitome of hustle and toughness. Junior Joel Ticknor also got into the mix at point guard in the second half of the season.

“We also feel with have some hidden gems in our junior class that didn’t get much time on game night,” Bavery said.

Middleton’s sophomore class led a JV team that went 20-2. And Bavery believes next year’s senior and junior classes can blend and form something special.

“JV doesn’t always translate to varsity,” Bavery said. “But we think many in this group will as there is a lot of skill and scrappiness, as well as potential for physical growth and maturity.

“We say it ever year but it really is true, the best thing about sophomores is they become juniors and the best thing about juniors is they become seniors. We will definitely have an inside element to our attack and we think we have the potential to have one of the best all around shooting teams we’ve had with an ability to consistently put four and sometimes five shooters on the court together. We are very excited.”

As always, a major key will be how much progress the Cardinals make this summer.

“Just being older doesn’t get it done,” Bavery said. “Physical strength and development need to be priority No. 1 for many of our guys, and then of course you simply cannot spend enough time in the gym.

“If there is one thing this year’s senior group showed it was a true gym rat mentality. If the group returning and coming up each get that part, what it means to work with a great mix of intensity and high volume, they can become another team that we will all be proud of.” 

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