Season ends for MHS boys

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Rob Reischel
Parker Van Buren had 17 points and 11 rebounds in his final game as a Middleton Cardinal./Photo courtesy of Mary Bavery

OCONOMOWOC — Middleton boys basketball coach Kevin Bavery had seen this movie throughout a frustrating season.

And Bavery certainly wasn’t in the mood for a sequel.

Turnovers. Questionable decisions. Ill-advised shots.

They were all part of the Cardinals’ script this winter. And Middleton had them once again during a 62-48 loss at Oconomowoc in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal last Friday.

Middleton, the 11th-seed in its sectional, finished the year 9-14. Oconomowoc, the No. 6 seed, improved to 14-9, then upset third-seeded Madison Memorial the following night.

“I honestly felt like we were the better team,” Bavery said. “And yet the results, at the end of the day, they speak for you. We were 9-14 and 9-14 is the reality. It’s the old NFL adage, right? You are what your record says you are.”

These Cardinals, who also went 7-11 in the Big Eight Conference, will be remembered as a group that never could get over the hump or find a branch of consistency to grab onto. And Middleton’s loss to Oconomowoc was certainly a microcosm of its season.

The Cardinals never led in the game, but pulled within one point on four different occasions. Middleton had 19 turnovers against a team that didn't pressure the ball particularly well. And when the Cardinals needed to foul in the final 2 minutes, they fouled the wrong players, which helped the Raccoons make 9-of-10 foul shots down the stretch.

“We believed we had a lot of potential with this group and a chance to do some good things,” Bavery said. “But we never turned the critical page.”

Middleton center Parker Van Buren capped a terrific senior season with 17 points and 11 rebounds, before fouling out with 1:05 remaining. Oconomowoc put three players in double figures, led by senior guard Drew Fisher’s 22 points.

“I don’t think we played our best, not even close,” Van Buren said. “So that’s frustrating. We did some good stuff, but we couldn’t finish it.”

Middleton turned the ball over on seven of its first 10 possessions and dug an early 11-6 hole. The Cardinals had a substantial advantage inside with the 6-foot-9 Van Buren and burly, 6-foot-4 Billy Johnson — especially after Raccoons’ center and leading scorer Caleb Flaten-Moore went to the bench with two fouls with 6 minutes left in the first half.

But Middleton couldn't take advantage.

In fact, Oconomowoc stretched its lead to 29-19 with 1:07 left in the first half after consecutive Middleton turnovers led to back-to-back fast break lay-ups by Fisher.

“Where the game was lost was when we had two fouls on their big and we just wouldn’t go inside,” Bavery said. “We begged, we pleaded, we took timeouts just to make that point. We just didn’t take advantage of it enough.”

Middleton did pull within 29-23 by halftime. The Cardinals then used a 6-1 run early in the second half and closed within 37-36 with 12:11 left in the game.

Van Buren started that spurt with a rebound basket, senior wing Henry Patterson rebounded a Van Buren miss and scored, then Johnson powered to the rim and converted a short jump-hook.

“We went in with the mindset that our advantage was our size,” Van Buern said. “We didn’t make as many outside shots as we usually do, which was tough and also frustrating.”

Like so many other times this season, Middleton simply couldn’t grab control.

The Raccoons answered with a 7-2 run to push their lead to 44-38 with 8:18 left. And from that point on, Middleton never came closer than four points.

Oconomowoc held a 49-41 lead with 4 ½ minutes left when it began stalling. The Cardinals forced back-to-back turnovers, though, and got a huge blocked shot from Van Buren.

But Middleton couldn't capitalize on the offensive end and had a pair of critical turnovers itself.

In the final 2 ½ minutes, Bavery instructed his team to foul certain Oconomowoc players — but they put the wrong Raccoons on the line.

“When it was time to foul, we fouled the wrong guys,” Bavery said. “It’s things like that that drive you nuts.”

While Oconomowoc finished the game red-hot from the line, Middleton ended with six straight empty possessions.

That allowed the Raccoons to close on a 9-0 run and end Middleton’s year.

“Senior season, I’m glad it happened,” Van Buren said. “But it’s disappointing that we’re going home without winning a (playoff) game.”

Bavery shared in that disappointment.

“When you get a chance to play outside your league, you want to represent your league as well as you can,” Bavery said. “That was a big point of emphasis before the game was this is the Big Eight vs. the Classic 8. We think we’re a better league. Here’s a team that finished above .500 in their league. Let’s show them where they would have been in our league.

“But this was kind of the story of our season. It was a year where we pushed different buttons all year. We asked ourselves, how do we get after certain guys to try to get the most out of them? Who responds to what? And we think we figured it out with some guys, but not everyone.”


March 6

WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal

Oconomowoc 62, Middleton 48

Middleton ………….. 23 25 — 48

Oconomowoc ……… 29 33 — 62

MIDDLETON (fg ft-fta pts) — Raffel 2 0-0 6, Deptula 1 5-6 7, Statz 1 0-0 2, Patterson 2 4-6 8, Van Buren 7 3-3 17, Ballweg 1 0-0 2, Johnson 3 0-0 6. Totals 17 12-15 48.

OCONOMOWOC — Galloway 3 0-2 6, D. Fisher 6 9-12 22, J. Fisher 1 2-2 4, Flaten-Moore 5 4-5 13, Bay 4 6-7 17. Totals 19 19-27 62.

3-point goals: M 2 (Raffel 2); O 5 (Bay 3, Flaten-Moore 1, D. Fisher 1). Fouled out: Flaten-Moore; Patterson, Van Buren, Fosdick.

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