Boys basketball team downs East

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Joel Ticknor and Middleton's boys basketball team rolled past Madison East last Thursday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Kevin Bavery knows full well how loud, raucous and intimidating things can get at Madison East.

So 24 hours before heading to Purgolder Country, Middleton’s boys basketball coach blasted music through the Cardinals’ practice.

Sure enough, East’s archaic gymnasium was deafening last Thursday, as the Purgolders erased a nine-point second half deficit and pulled even at 46-46.

But the Cardinals were prepared for the noise — and quickly silenced it.

Middleton finished the game on a stunning 24-6 burst and quieted both the Purgolders and the crowd after an impressive 70-52 win.

The Cardinals improved to 7-5 overall and finished the first half of Big Eight Conference play with a 6-3 mark. East fell to 6-5, 4-4.

“We just have to have confidence in ourselves, confidence in each other as a team and we’ve just got to make sure we trust each other with the ball, make sure we get that open look every time,” Middleton senior point guard Joel Ticknor said. “We’re bringing it every day and that’s why we’re getting better.”

Middleton senior forward Brogan Brunker had 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Ticknor knocked down three three-pointers and added 15 points.

Cardinals senior Alan Roden added six points and 10 rebounds. Roden also held Madison East standout Keshawn Justice — a University of Santa Clara recruit — to just 3-of-14 shooting and eight points.

Roden defended Justice the majority of the game, while Brunker also guarded him on a handful of possessions.

“All the credit goes to Alan,” said Brunker said. “That kid’s an animal and I’ll put him on anybody all night and take my chances.”

Middleton’s chances of victory weren’t looking so hot midway through the second half.

The Cardinals — who never trailed — got 11 first half points from Brunker and took a 31-27 lead at intermission. Middleton then pushed its advantage to nine on two occasions — the first coming at 37-28 on a circus shot by Roden over Justice, and the second at 40-31 on a three-pointer by junior guard Jack Boyle.

But few teams battle as hard and apply consistent pressure quite like East. And sure enough, the Purgolders answered with a 15-6 blitz that evened things up with 7:55 remaining.

“They were just trying to pressure us full court,” Ticknor said. “We just needed to compose ourselves and bring up the ball slowly and make sure we had ‘for sure’ passes instead of ‘maybe’ passes.”

The Cardinals did just that — and took the game over.

Over the next 4 ½ minutes, Middleton embarked on a 19-2 explosion. When it was over, the Cardinals held a 65-48 lead and had secured victory.

“A lot of it was our guards stepped up and they weren’t turning the ball over,” Brunker said. “And we played like we practiced all week and we practiced really, really hard.”

Bavery agreed.

“They really responded and did a great job when they were challenged in the second half,” Bavery said.

Brunker had nine points during the burst and Ticknor added eight. Middleton scored on nine straight possessions in that stretch, while East had just two free throws in nine possessions.

Brunker started the fun by dribbling to his left and knocking down a 15-foot, right elbow jump shot. Brunker then posted up on the right baseline and hit a 12-foot, spinning turnaround jump shot that gave Middleton a 50-46 lead.

After Ticknor split a pair of free throws, Roden came from right to left and pulled up in the paint. Roden then spotted Ticknor coming free in the left corner, and the senior guard drained a three-pointer that gave Middleton a 54-46 advantage.

“That was a big momentum changer,” Ticknor said. “The game was still close at that time. Alan found me and he just trusted me to make a shot. I thank him for that.

“Roden did an amazing job. He’s everywhere, all the time. He’s a great team player. He’s the epitome of a player you want on your team.”

East countered with a pair of free throws, then the Cardinals ran off the next 11 points. First, Brunker drilled a right corner three-pointer, then senior forward Brian Vergenz scored from in close.

Ticknor then made four straight free throws and Brunker drilled a pair of foul shots himself. When the barrage was over, Middleton’s lead had grown to 65-48 with 3:01 remaining.

Two months ago, it’s unlikely Middleton would have responded so well if an opponent smacked them with a similar run. Today, the Cardinals have grown by leaps and bounds and have learned how to punch back with even greater force.

“We just know our personnel better and we’ve been playing the game we should be playing with the people that we have,” Brunker said. “I think practice has revved up and gotten a lot more competitive and I think that’s helped us a lot.”

As Bavery and his team headed to the bus afterwards, the lights inside East were dimmed and the old barn was quiet. Deep down, Bavery and the Cardinals knew they were responsible for the silence.

“It was a really big win,” Bavery said. “This group just keeps getting better and better.”

Jan. 11

Middleton 70, Madison East 52

Middleton …………….. 31 39 — 70

Madison East …………… 27 25 — 52

MIDDLETON — Roden 3 0-0 6, Roquet 1 3-4 6, Ticknor 1 0-0 3 6-8 15, Bowman 1 0-0 2, Vergenz 3 0-0 6, Brunker 5 4-6 24, Boyle 3, Close 2 0-0 4, Severn 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 13-18 70.

MADISON EAST — Justice 2 0-0 8, Washington 2 0-0 4, Lewis 1 0-2 8, Washington 3 2-2 14, Jones 1 1-6 3, Justice 1 0-0 2, Thompson 1 2-2 13. Totals 11 5-12 52.

3-point goals — MID 7 (Roquet 1, Ticknor 3, Brunker 2, Boyle 1), ME 9 (Justice 2, Lewis 2, Washington 2, Thompson 3). Total fouls— MID 11, ME 17.


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