Middleton rallies past Arrowhead

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Sam Close and Middleton's boys basketball team knocked off Hartland Arrowhead last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

MILWAUKEE — Kevin Bavery faces a quandary every season.

Middleton’s boys basketball coach has just four non-conference games to work with each year. And after playing 18 games in the demanding Big Eight Conference, Bavery toys with the idea of scheduling lesser opponents to boost the Cardinals’ record and give his team an occasional break.

Inevitably, though, Bavery resists that urge and tries putting together the most demanding schedule possible for his team. Bavery’s belief is those games better prepare a team for the postseason than scheduling softer foes.

Middleton’s latest match-up on murderer’s row came Saturday, when the Cardinals met defending WIAA Division 1 state runner-up Hartland Arrowhead. Senior forward Brogan Brunker had a game-high 18 points and the Cardinals notched an extremely impressive 58-55 win over Arrowhead in a game played at the Al McGuire Center.

The Cardinals improved to 6-5 overall and are 5-3 in the powerful Big Eight Conference.

“I joke with my coaches that we should create a college-like schedule that includes at least a couple of 'cupcakes' from time to time in our non-conference schedule,” Bavery said. “But these are the types of games and challenges that makes our kids and our team better, and with only four non-conference games we have to schedule carefully.”

Arrowhead has been a state power for several years now. The Warhawks won a Division 1 state title in 2010, then reached the state finals a year ago before losing to Stevens Point.

Arrowhead (6-4) has slipped slightly this season. But Middleton’s win was undoubtedly one its most impressive of the year.

“The Arrowhead win is especially rewarding since they have won the state’s all-around points challenge for athletics for Division 1 schools for several years running now, with Middleton usually finishing second,” said Bavery, whose team has now defeated Arrowhead three straight seasons. “So that's been a really nice consolation prize.”

In addition to Brunker’s 18 points, he added five rebounds and five assists. Senior forward Alan Roden had 11 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.

Senior wing Davis Roquet had eight points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Senior guard Joel Ticknor had seven points and junior guard Sam Close added five points.

Middleton outrebounded the Warhawks, 36-25, and had 23 assists on its 30 field goals.

Brunker hit two late three-pointers and junior guard Jack Boyle drained a three-pointer from the wing. Brunker also hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds and Close drilled a pair of foul shots with seven seconds remaining as the Cardinals grabbed a 58-55 lead.

“We took a time out and asked the players if they were more comfortable fouling or playing it out, given the three-point lead,” Bavery said. "All the analytics out there say it's pretty even. Our guys wanted to play, so we told them to simply stay in front, don't foul, and switch all ball screens or dribble handoffs so they couldn't get a throwback for an open three.”

Roden guarded the ball the length of the court. Arrowhead ran a nifty play where the ball-handler faked a handoff and took a 25-footer at the buzzer.

Roden stayed in front of the shooter and challenged the shot that went long and deep off the back and side of the rim.

“It certainly wasn't a bad look and it was a nice design,” Bavery said of the Warhawks’ final play. “But it would have been a really tough shot to make.”

Tickner and Roden drilled early three-pointers to give Middleton a 6-2 lead. But Arrowhead answered with a 12-2 run and surged to a 14-8 advantage.

"We hit a couple of shots early which was nice, but it sped us up in the half court offensively and we were shooting too quickly,” Bavery said. “We'll take that with numbers in transition, but once we're in a 5-on-5 game, we really have to move the ball and bodies side to side to get higher percentage looks.”

Roquet changed the dynamic of the game by attacking the rim against Arrowhead’s 6-foot-9 center Jonathan Chycinski for six quick points. Both senior forward Brian Verganz and senior guard Chann Bowman provided energy off the bench as Middleton built a 29-25 halftime lead.

A back-and-forth second half led to the thrilling ending in which the Cardinals posted arguably their best win of the season.

"Arrowhead finished second in the state tournament last year and plays in a difficult league (Classic 8) top to bottom like we do, so I was really proud of how our guys handled the quick turnaround against a quality opponent,” said Bavery, whose team had defeated Beloit Memorial the previous night. “We ran a lot of players in and out in the first half and found a way to win a highly contested game in the final minute.”

• On deck: Middleton travels to Madison East Thursday at 7:30 p.m., then is at Madison Memorial Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“It doesn't get any easier this week, but our guys won't back down from anyone,” Bavery said.


Jan. 6

Middleton 58, Hartland Arrowhead 55

Arrowhead …………….. 25 30 — 55

Middleton ………………. 29 29 — 58

HARTLAND ARROWHEAD — Chycinski 3 0-0 6, Gilmore 4 6-7 14, Matheny 2 0-0 6, Pulvermacher 4 0-0 8, Riege 1 0-0 2, Sharma 1 2-4 5, Gouin 6 0-0 14. Totals 21 8-13 55.

MIDDLETON — Roden 5 0-0 11, Michaels 2 0-0 4, Roquet 4 0-0 8, Ticknor 3 0-0 7, Vergenz 1 0-0 2, Brunker 6 3-4 18, Boyle 1 0-0 3, Close 1 2-2 5. Totals 23 5-7 58.

3-point goals — HA 5 (Matheny 2, Sharma 1, Gouin 2), MID 7 (Roden 1, Ticknor 1, Brunker 3, Boyle 1, Close 1). Total fouls — MID 11, HA 12.



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