Middleton tops Memorial, leads Big 8

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Storm Murphy scored 26 points in Middleton's win over Madison Memorial last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Middleton’s boys basketball team has a banner hanging in the north corner of the field house where it lists conference championships.

That banner has been lonely for a while, as the Cardinals haven’t claimed a Big Eight Conference title since the 2000-‘01 season.

It’s early, but that 15-year drought could be ending soon.

Middleton notched the biggest win of its season last Saturday, topping 12-time defending conference champion Madison Memorial, 71-63. Junior guard Storm Murphy scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half, while junior forward Tyree Eady had 12 of his 14 points after halftime.

The Cardinals improved to 6-0 both overall and in the league and lead second-place Sun Prairie (4-1, 5-1) by 1.5 games. Madison Memorial fell to 4-2, 4-2.

“I think this was a huge statement win for us, not just for the Big Eight, but the state,” Eady said. “It shows we can play with anybody and we’re up there with the top teams in the state.”

In the last 24 meetings between Middleton and Madison Memorial, the Spartans were 23-1. The Cardinals were well aware of that, and were dead set on reversing that trend.

“We knew that stat coming in and we really wanted this game,” Murphy said. “Coach (Kevin) Bavery talked about us being the wolves on the top of the hill and Memorial wanted to come in here and get us. We just really acknowledged that and we were hungry and really wanted to get this win.”

Murphy and Eady were two huge reasons why the Cardinals prevailed.

Murphy lost a game of H-O-R-S-E to Bavery earlier in the day, and probably had to wonder if this might not be his night. But the Cardinals’ dynamic guard shook off a rough first half and shined in the final 18 minutes.

Murphy shot 5-of-8 from the field in the second half and went 8-of-9 at the free throw line.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever met a guy that loves the game more than Storm does,” Bavery said. “He just loves it so much. I think the thing with him is people don’t realize how athletic he is and how much he’s changed from last year to this year.”

Eady, the Big Eight’s leading scorer, shot just 1-of-8 from the floor in the first half. But he made 4-of-7 shots in the second half — including a pair of critical three-pointers.

“Once I see that first shot go down, everything just changes for me,” Eady said. “Seeing that first one go down, I just had confidence in the next one. That was big.”

Middleton had a big second half after struggling against a smart, tenacious Memorial team in the first half.

The visiting Spartans held Middleton to just 10-of-35 shooting (28.6%), never trailed, and held a 29-26 lead at the break. Memorial also outrebounded the Cardinals, 29-19, in the first half.

“They kind of had us playing their game and not the game we wanted to play,” Murphy said. “We would shoot 3s and we were not shooting well at all.

“So at half, Bavery just said, ‘Let’s run our actions. Let’s slow things down. Let’s get in the lane, kick it, slow things down, knock down shots and take our time.’ So we did that and things started going well for us.”

Indeed.

Middleton opened the second half on a 7-0 burst and took its first lead of the night. Junior guard C.J Fermanich opened the half with a reverse layup, Murphy drained a three-pointer and junior center Jack Smith scored to give Middleton a 33-29 lead just 1:40 into the second half.

“We just told our guys we have to trust our actions and we have to follow them through,” Bavery said. “And we hit a couple early shots that really helped.”

No one expected Memorial to go away, though. Not with a gritty team led by junior center Chris Knight (14 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks), heady junior forward Jake Ferguson (15 points, eight rebounds), and scrappy guards Billy Wilson (12 points) and Matt Caropreso (10 points).

Over the next 11 minutes, the game featured six ties, three lead changes and neither team led by more than five.

“Memorial’s a really solid team,” Murphy said. “Really high basketball I.Q. They don’t try and force a lot of stuff and they’re just a really great team.”

Middleton trailed, 51-50, with 4:30 left when it embarked on a 7-0 run to take control. Fermanich drilled a 19-footer to start the fun, Eady made a pair of free throws and Murphy had an old-fashioned three-point play.

The burst lasted exactly 60 seconds, and when it ended, Middleton had a 57-51 lead it would never relinquish.

Memorial pulled within three with 3 ½ minutes remaining, and trailed, 63-59, after a rebound basket by Knight with 1:23 left.

But Murphy found Eady for a huge basket with 52 seconds left. Then Murphy drained 5-of-6 free throws in the final 41.1 seconds.

Murphy is now shooting 82.4% from the line (42-of-51) this year.

“Tonight was Storm’s night,” Eady said. “He hit shots. He made his free throws. Tonight was his night and he did a great job and put the team on his back.”

Afterwards, a giddy Middleton bunch hung around the school for nearly an hour, enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Bavery shared that pride, but was also quick to point out his team has miles to travel.

“It’s great to beat Memorial,” Bavery said. “But both teams have a long ways to go and both are going to get a lot better. We’re only six games in. We’ve had some big games at home and we still have to go on the road to some really tough places. Right now, though, we’re all pretty happy.”

And optimistic they can update that banner.

 

Dec. 19

Middleton 71, Madison Memorial 63

Madison Memorial ………….. 29 34 — 63

Middleton ……………………….. 26 45 — 71

MADISON MEMORIAL — Wilson 12, Knecht 7, Weah 1, Goodwan 2, Ferguson 15, Caropreso 10, Brown 2, Knight 14 Totals 29 12-27 63

MIDDLETON — Raffel 5, Brunker 4, Smith 3, Murphy 26, Thomas 5, Eady 14, Ashford Jr. 4, Fermanich 10. Totals 25 12-16 69.

3-point goals — M 7 (Murphy 3, Eady 2, Thomas 1, Raffel 1), MM 3 (Knecht 2, Wilson). 

 

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