Boys basketball team survives wild week

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton junior guard Logan Raffel set the school record with nine three-pointers in a loss at Monroe on Feb. 12./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Middleton’s boys basketball team has played just 10 regular season games this year.

It’s hard to imagine a team more battle tested, though, heading into the postseason.

The Cardinals capped a wild, wacky week last weekend with narrow losses to state powers Monroe and DePere.

The host Cheesemakers — ranked No. 4 in Division 2 — toppled the Cardinals, 75-67, last Friday. DePere, ranked No. 7 in Division 1, then edged Middleton, 67-62, last Saturday.

The losses capped a crazy week in which the Cardinals traveled approximately 1,020 miles round trip and played five games in six days. During a typical season, the Cardinals travel roughly 450 miles round trip to play their nine Big Eight Conference foes.

“We have certainly earned the respect of all our opponents and have had some great conversations with the opposing coaches at the end of our games,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “They are amazed at what we are doing given our circumstances and limitations in practice as well as our extensive travel. Our guys have earned every bit of that respect.

“With some Dane County restrictions changing, Monday will be our first 'real' practice. Our goal is to give these guys at least one full week of that experience as we enter tournament play. We feel like we are as good as anyone we will see, and there's no way we will see anyone better than we have played in three of our last four games. No matter how we fare we could not be prouder of this group.”

With good reason.

Middleton faced a Monroe team led by Cade Meyer, a 6-foot-8, UW-Green Bay recruit. And while Meyer scored 21 points, the Cheesemakers could never shake the Cardinals.

Middleton junior guard Logan Raffel scored a game-high 29 points and set a new school record with nine three-pointers.

“That doesn't happen by accident,” Bavery said of Raffel. “It happens with a ton of time spent in the gym.”

Raffel erupted for five of his three-pointers and 17 total points in the first half, as Middleton raced to a 33-32 lead at the break. Junior Nick Meinholz added seven first half points and the Cardinals buried nine three-pointers overall.

“We came out of the gate shooting the lights out,” Bavery said.

The Cheesemakers rallied in the second half, though, grabbing the lead with an early three-point play and pushing their advantage to as many as 16. Middleton trimmed the deficit to six, but couldn't come any closer.

Monroe improved to 13-1, while the Cardinals slipped to 4-5.

“We haven't been able to put together two complete halves, or at least avoid stretches where we hurry on offense or have unforced turnovers,” Bavery said. “That's where our lack of actual 'practice like we can play' time in the gym really puts us at a disadvantage. We don't use that as an excuse, but we've recognized it is a reality.”

Kaden Fosdick added seven points and two steals, while Meinholz had seven points. Gavyn Hurley chipped in five points, four assists and two steals.

“We are growing game by game, and even though coincidentally the level of competition we face has grown with a better opponent almost game by game as well, we have been up to the challenge for major stretches of those games,” Bavery said. “Monroe was clearly our best opponent to date and we came out and jumped on them hard.

“Our confidence is growing as well. Our biggest need is simply to recognize when we can go quick, when we need a lengthy possession, when to take one less dribble or make one more pass. When we do that it's really fun to watch.”

Middleton was awfully fun to watch the following night, too, when it stormed to a 40-27 lead over host DePere. The Redbirds battled back in the second half, though, and edged the Cardinals.

Raffel again led the way with 18 points, while Hurley added 12 points and Meinholz had 11. DePere sophomore guard Johnny Kinzinger, one of the most highly regarded prospects in the Class of 2023, led the Redbirds with 21.

“Honestly, I knew we were as ready as we could have possibly been,” Bavery said. “But I was both shocked and impressed with how well we played.”

Raffel was terrific early, draining all six of his three-pointers in the first half. Fosdick had seven first half points, Meinholz drilled a pair of triples and Will Comerford had a three-pointer as Middleton stunned the host Redbirds and grabbed a 13-point lead at the break.

Much like the Monroe game, though, DePere began chipping away in the second half.

“There were a couple of really big possessions,” Bavery said. “They started with a drive to the rim where we thought we had a charge or a no call and they got the block call and a three-point play.

“Their pressure ramped up and we had a combination of unforced errors and them making some plays. When we go to quick on the offensive end and don't convert it tends to fuel those runs. They don't have to play defense for very long, score in transition and can apply the pressure again. It feels like we are trying to answer and make those runs up instead of making that work.”

Raffel was in foul trouble much of the second half and picked up his fifth foul with just under 5 minutes left.

“It would have been interesting to have had him available for the majority of that half,” Bavery said of Raffel.

DePere tied the game with 3 minutes left, but the Cardinals answered with a Gavyn Hurley three-pointer off a Collin Schremp assist.

“Early in the year Collin would have taken that shot, but now he recognized 'good shot, one more pass, great shot,’ ” Bavery said. “I was really proud of that.”

De Pere took its first lead on a three-point shot in the final minute to go up one, but Hurley slipped to the read off a pin down screen for an easy layup to take the lead back.

The Redbirds regained a one-point lead, then Middleton missed a pair of free throws. That forced the Cardinals to foul and the Redbirds steadily extended their advantage.

Fosdick finished with nine points and seven rebounds, while Schremp added seven rebounds and Meinholz had three steals.

“No one wants fast break layups more than us, but this was our best game the majority of the time in terms of starting to get secondary looks,” Bavery said. “Slips, curls after reversing the ball a couple of turns, comeback screens, and so on. We're still very basic, but even this early in the process it feels like we're on the verge of putting it all together.”

 

Feb. 13

DE PERE 67, MIDDLETON 62

Middleton ……………. 40 22 — 62

De Pere ………………. 27 40 — 67

MIDDLETON (fg ft-fta pts) — Raffel 6 0-0 18, Hurley 4 3-3 12, Fosdick 4 1-2 9, Meinholz 4 1-3 11, Van Buren 2 2-3 6, Comerford 1 0-0 3, Finch 1 0-0 2, Meier 0 1-2 1, Ballweg 0 0-2 0. Totals 22-8-14 62.

DE PERE — Kinziger 8 4-4 21, Jorgenson 3 5-6 12, Dehm 4 0-0 11, Donaldson 3 0-0 7, Shinners 2 1-2 5, Herman 3 4-5 11. Totals 23 14-17 67.

3-point goals: M 10 (Raffel 6, Meinholz 2, Hurley 1, Comerford 1); DP 7 (Dehm 3, Kinziger 1, Jorgenson 1, Donaldson 1, Herman 1). Total fouls: M xx; DP 16. Fouled out: Raffel; Shinners..

 

Feb. 12

MONROE 75, MIDDLETON 67

Middleton*33*34*—*67

Monroe*32*43*—*75

MIDDLETON (fg ft-fta pts) — Raffel 10 0-0 29, Zimmerman 1 0-0 3, Fosdick 3 0-0 7, Meinholz 2 2-2 7, Schremp 1 1-2 3, Ballweg 0 2-2 2, Comerford 1 1-2 4, Hurley 1 2-2 5, Statz 1 0-0 3, Gmur 1 0-0 2, Sweitzer 1 2-2 4. Totals 22 10-12 67.

MONROE — Leuzinger 3 8-8 15, Huschitt 1 0-0 3, Roidt 0 2-2 2, Golembiewski 2 4-4 8, Meyer 7 6-8 21, Mapel 1 0-0 3, Matley 6 0-0 12, Bunker 3 0-0 6, Seagreaves 2 0-0 5. Totals 25 20-22 75.

3-point goals: Mid 13 (Raffel 9, Zimmerman 1, Fosdick 1, Meinholz 1, Statz 1); Mon 5 (Leuzinger 1, Huschitt 1, Meyer 1, Mapel 1, Seagreaves 1). Total fouls: Mid 21; Mon 13.

 

 

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