MHS loses heartbreaker to Memorial

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Brogan Brunker and Middleton’s boys basketball team fell to Madison Memorial, 42-41, last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Middleton boys basketball coach Kevin Bavery might have summed it up best when discussing the Cardinals’ rivalry with Madison Memorial.

“There is a curse, a ghost, a poltergeist … something,” Bavery said.

Yes, strange things most certainly happen to Middleton when it meets Memorial. And last Saturday was no different.

Middleton rallied from an 11-point, second half deficit and took a one-point lead with 59 seconds left on a pair of Alan Roden free throws. Memorial reclaimed the lead with two free throws of its own, and the Cardinals had one final chance to escape victorious.

Senior forward Davis Roquet missed a three-pointer in the closing seconds, but junior guard Sam Close grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 0.6 seconds left. The sharp-shooting Close — a 91% free throw shooter — missed both foul shots, though, and Memorial prevailed, 42-41.

“Sometimes it seems like it comes down to a final play, but there are always several key plays that could have been made at other times of the game on either end that could have made the difference,” Bavery said. “There are two or three guys we would want at the line in that situation and Sam is definitely one of them.”

Middleton slipped to 7-6 overall and 6-4 in the Big Eight, while Memorial improved to 11-2, 8-1.

As for poltergeists, Bavery might be on to something.

Since Bavery arrived at MHS in 2006, the Cardinals are just 3-29 against the Spartans. Considering Memorial has won at least a share of 14 consecutive Big Eight titles, that’s par for the course against the mighty Spartans.

But Middleton has had more painful losses than most.

In the 2010 sectional final, Middleton had three shots rim out in the closing seconds and dropped a 56-54 decision.

In Feb. 2012, Memorial’s Junior Lomomba hit a mid-range jump shot with 3 seconds left to lift the Spartans past the Cardinals, 61-59.

And in Jan., 2013, Middleton led, 60-59 when the clock had seemingly expired. But the referees ruled that Spartans head coach Steve Collins called timeout with 2 seconds left.

Memorial’s Jester Weah then inbounded from three-quarters court and hit Shareef Smith racing down the right sideline. Smith took one dribble, pulled up from 22-feet and drained a three-pointer as the horn sounded to give the Spartans an improbable 62-60 win.

The curse appeared to have ended when Middleton defeated Memorial twice in the 2015-’16 season. But the Spartans have now won five straight games by an average of 3.6 points per contest.

Last Saturday was simply the latest in a long line of tough defeats at the hands of Memorial.

“Certainly a tough loss, but our guys continue to show the ability to come back no matter what the odds, and they never make any excuses,” Bavery said. “Even in defeat we took another big step forward and we continue to evolve into a tougher and more resilient team.”

Senior guard Joel Ticknor led Middleton with 14 points. Senior forward Alan Roden added 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals, while senior forward Brogan Brunker had 10 points and four rebounds.

Memorial junior guard Cade Ellingson led all scorers with 25 points.

The teams were tied, 20-20, at halftime before Memorial raced to an 11-point lead at the start of the second half.

Middleton embarked on a comeback, though, and closed within 40-39 late. Brunker then jumped a passing lane, came up with a critical steal and went to the free throw line with 59 seconds left.

Brunker missed the front end of the 1-and-1, but Roden grabbed the rebound, was fouled and drilled two free throws.

Roden came up with another steal with 50 seconds left after a nice trap by Ticknor and senior guard Chann Bowman. Bowman was fouled, but missed both free throws, giving the ball back to Memorial.

Ellingson drew a foul and hit both free throws with 35 seconds left to give the Spartans a 42-41 lead.

Memorial’s defense was stifling on Middleton’s final possession, but Close found Roquet for a good look from the left corner. Close rebounded on the weak side, was fouled, but couldn't convert either foul shot.

“We don't get that opportunity if Sam doesn't make a great play to find Roquet and to get the offensive board,” Bavery said.

Despite the tough loss there were positive signs.

“They are competing at a higher level than they were earlier in the season and understand what it means to compete for a full game much better,” Bavery said.

• On deck: Middleton hosts Big Eight leading Sun Prairie Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Cardinals then face Milwaukee Marquette Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Luke Homan Showcase held at Brookfield Central High School.

“We believe in this group so much and know that they have the potential for great things in the second half of the season as well as at tournament time,” Bavery said. “I think that they are starting to believe it too.”


Jan. 13

Madison Memorial 42, Middleton 41

Middleton ……………. 20 21 — 41

Madison Memorial …… 20 22 — 42

MIDDLETON — Roden 5 2-2 12, Roquet 1 3-4 5, Ticknor 5 0-0 14, Bowman 0, Brunker 3 3-5 10, Close 0. Totals 14 8-15 41.

MADISON MEMORIAL — Grays 1 1-2 3, Ellingson 8 4-5 25, Caropreso 1 4-6 7, Schaefer 1 0-0 3, Caldwell 2 0-1 4. Totals 13 9-14 42.

3-point goals — MID 5 (Ticknor 4, Brunker 1), MM 7 (Ellingson 5, Caropreso 1, Schaefer 1). Total fouls — MM 19, MID 15.


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