Middleton stuns Stevens Point

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Storm Murphy and Middleton’s boys basketball team routed two-time defending state champion Stevens Point Tuesday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Tyree Eady looked around Middleton High School Tuesday night and saw what qualifies as glitterati for a high school basketball game.

There were college coaches from Marquette and Iowa in the stands. There were a pair of standouts from Marquette, and several players from Big Eight Conference rivals Madison Memorial and Sun Prairie.

Eady, Middleton’s sensational senior forward, realized this was the perfect time to make a statement.

“Coach has been telling us that now is ‘Go Time!’ ” Eady said. “And we kind of wanted to make a statement to the rest of the state that we’re still here.”

Oh, the Cardinals are here all right. And they might not be going anywhere for a while.

Middleton played arguably its finest game of Kevin Bavery’s 11-year tenure and routed Stevens Point — the two-time WIAA Division 1 defending state champion — 96-66.

Eady had a terrific game with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while senior guard Storm Murphy had 15 of his 19 points in the second half. Senior guard C.J. Fermanich added 12 points, while senior reserve forward Ben Jackson added 11 points.

Stevens Point junior forward Joey Hauser — a top-25 recruit nationally in the Class of 2018 — led the fourth-ranked Pointers with 32 points and 11 rebounds.

“When we push the ball and when we share the ball, we can be really good,” said Bavery, whose team won its sixth straight game and improved to 16-4. “We did all of those things tonight.”

Since the start of the 2012-’13 season, the Pointers were 116-9 (.928) overall, including 16-3 this year. In that time, Point had allowed 70 points, or more, in just six of those 125 games (4.8%).

Records on Stevens Point date back to the 2002-’03 season. And Middleton’s 96 points were the most scored against the Pointers in that time.

“We just showed that we can play with anybody,” said Fermanich, who is first cousins with Hauser and earned bragging rights for the time being. “They have a great coach, great players, obviously ranked very high.

“We think we can be up there with those guys, and I hope this shows that we can give anybody in the state a good dogfight.”

The Cardinals showed exactly that on both ends of the floor.

Middleton shot a whopping 34-of-62 from the floor (54.8%) and made 13-of-25 three-pointers (52.0%). The Cardinals even made a blistering 13-of-14 free throws (92.9%).

On the other end, Eady & Co. did all they could to slow the 6-foot-8 Hauser. And while Hauser shot 11-of-19 from the floor (57.9%), his teammates combined to go just 12-of-38 (31.6%).

“Honestly, we haven't lived up to the expectations that we want to for this year,” Eady said. “But, I mean beating the defending state champs by 30 points is obviously a statement. We wanted to prove that we’re still as good as advertised.”

Mission accomplished.

Middleton used an early 10-0 run to grab a 16-7 lead. Fermanich and Myron Ashford both made two free throws to start the run, then Eady and Davis Roquet both drilled three-pointers.

Middleton’s lead was 27-18 with 6 minutes left in the first half when the Cardinals smacked the Pointers with an 8-0 burst to firmly gain control. Murphy scored to start the run, then Eady had an old-fashioned three-point play and knocked down a 22-footer as Middleton’s lead ballooned to 35-18.

While many eyes were on the highly-touted Hauser all night, Eady was every bit the big man’s equal.

“I kind of wanted to show my dominance,” Eady said. “I saw Memorial and Sun Prairie over in the stands, so I kind of wanted to go out there and show them that we’re still here.

“Memorial and Sun Prairie are obviously at the top of the (Big Eight Conference) standings right now. But we’re still working and we’re going to get there.”

Hauser, who entered the night averaging 21.2 points per game, and Pointers’ sharp-shooter Drew Blair (19.9) both picked up two early fouls. Stevens Point then switched to a 2-3 zone defense to protect their two stars and Middleton picked it apart.

The Cardinals shot 7-of-14 from three-point range in the first half (50.0%) and 15-of-33 overall (45.5%). Stevens Point shot just 9-of-25 (36.0%) in the half and went 0-of-8 from three-point range.

“When we play with no fear, don’t back down to anybody, just have that mentality, we can be really good,” Bavery said.

The Pointers crept within 58-43 with 13:44 left in the game and appeared poised to make things interesting. But Middleton erupted on a 14-1 run over a 4 ½ minute stretch and built a commanding 72-44 lead.

Murphy started the run with five consecutive points and junior guard Alan Roden had the final four. In between, Eady drained a three-pointer and Fermanich had a basket.

The Cardinals smacked the Pointers with another 10-0 blitz and stretched their lead to 34 points at 86-52 with 4:06 left. Senior reserve center Brett Wipfli led that burst with five points, including a 22-foot three-pointer from the top of the key. Eady also had a three-point play in that stretch, while senior forward Parker Sigmon had a basket.

In all, it was easily Middleton’s finest performance of the year. And it gives the Cardinals hope that anything and everything is possible as March Madness nears.

“This game is definitely up there,” Fermanich said. “And that was a great opponent. We did a great job coming out firing and then holding the lead throughout the game. It was a lot of fun.”

 

Feb. 14

Middleton 96, Stevens Point 66

Stevens Point ……... 25  41 — 66

Middleton …………..…. 44  52 — 96

STEVENS POINT — Rosenthal 2 0-0 4, Blair 3 1-3 9, Erdman 0 0-0 0, Hauser 11 10-12 32, Williams 2 1-2 5, Cullen 0 2-2 2, Mueller 2 0-0 6, Lewis 1 0-0 2, Simmons 2 2-2 5. Totals 23 16-21 66.

MIDDLETON — Smith 0 0-0 0, Murphy 7 2-2 19, Eady 10 2-2 26, Brunker 0 2-2 2, Fermanich 4 2-2 12, Ashford 0 2-2 2, Jackson 4 2-2 11, Roden 2 0-0 4, Roquet 1 0-0 3, Sigmon 1 0-0 2, Wipfli 2 0-0 5, Ragsdale 2 0-0 5, Bowman 2 1-1 5.

3-point goals — SP 4 (Blair 2, Mueller 2), Midd 13 (Eady 4, Murphy 3, Fermanich 2, Jackson, Wipfli, Ragsdale, Roquet.

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