Boys basketball team has high hopes

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Kevin Bavery and Middleton's boys basketball team begin their new season Thursday against Madison Memorial./File photo

Tyree Eady, Middleton’s all-time leading scorer, has taken his immense skills to North Dakota State.

Storm Murphy, the Cardinals’ all-time leader in assists and a 1,000-point scorer himself, is now playing collegiately at Wofford.

Most programs take a dramatic nosedive after losing two Division 1 athletes. But Middleton is expecting to be one of the area’s surprise teams this winter.

The Cardinals have a handful of solid returnees and a group of talented newcomers ready to make their mark. And when Middleton opens its season Nov. 30 against Madison Memorial, it’s optimistic big things await.

“Our depth, physical strength and skill development from the end of last season until now has been very good,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “We have a good inside-outside mix and overall team size and length. This also has the potential to be one of the best shooting teams we’ve had.”

Bavery has posted a 161-99 record during 11 years at Middleton and a 366-232 mark in 26 seasons overall. Last year’s Cardinals went 19-6 overall and finished third in the Big Eight at 13-5.

Despite a bevy of losses, though, Bavery and his veteran staff believe this group could thrive.

Senior Brogan Brunker missed much of last season due to illness, but averaged 6.3 points and 3.0 rebounds when healthy. Brunker is Middleton’s lone returning starter and should be poised for a big senior season.

“Obviously Brogan has had more than his share of tough luck, missing essentially his entire varsity football career,” Bavery said. “He came back for us late last season, but never got to the same level he was as a sophomore on our varsity team.

“He's healthy, he's definitely on a mission with his effort, but more than anything he is dialed in hard. Everything we do in practice he's first in line, goes all out, encourages others, challenges others, and disciplines himself with pushups or something similar for a missed layup for example. I wouldn't want to give anything less than my best effort if I was his teammate.”

Senior Davis Roquet has the potential to be a terrific scorer, while senior Alan Roden is the ultimate effort player. Senior guard Cole Ragsdale and senior point guard Joel Ticknor could also be poised for big seasons.

Juniors Keegan Severn, Max Schlicht, Jake Klubertanz, Ben Scher, Jack Boyle and Sam Close also figure to take on major roles.

“I think we can do a number of things well,” Bavery said. “We can go with a bigger lineup and work to get the ball inside. We can go smaller and spread the floor. We have multiple perimeter shooters as well as a few guys who can get to the rim, and some inside scorers.

“We can have a pressing lineup as well as a lineup that maybe can give some 'false pressure', but come up with some timely traps. We can go deep, but we can also shrink our lineup when we need to. It might be a roller coaster for some guys in that regard as they might have a big role one night, a smaller role the next, and maybe not see the floor for a stretch and then help us again.

“We have a large squad, but added 13 varsity reserve games, too. And of course we need people to challenge us and make everyone better every day in practice and in preparation. As long as everyone is 'all in' there are a lot of ways to help this team and a lot of ways we can play on game night.”

Sun Prairie and Madison East are the consensus Big Eight Conference favorites. But Bavery believes his Cardinals can compete with anyone and everyone.

“Sun Prairie is the clear favorite based on personnel returning, but you still have to play the games,” Bavery said. “East has the top returning scorer in the league in (Keshawn) Justice and I'm not sure anyone knows what they're going to do with him. After that there is really a lot of unknowns around the league.

“Memorial lost a lot of minutes, but returns a group with size and success. La Follette will be better. Beloit, Verona, and Janesville Craig all have new coaches. I do think we have a team with kids who have a deep competitive nature and I'm convinced that everyone who plays us will get our best shot. It all shapes up to be another eventful year in the Big Eight.”

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