Roden powers Cards past Verona

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Alan Roden had 15 rebounds in Middleton's win over Verona on Dec. 14./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

VERONA — At first glance, Alan Roden might not look the part of a basketball standout.

Middleton’s senior swingman is 6-foot nothing. Roden has the body of a baseball catcher, which just so happens to be the position he’ll play at Creighton University a year from now.

But there’s no question, looks can be deceiving.

Roden is a surprising scorer, a rebounding force and an active defender. And all of those skills were on full display during Middleton’s impressive 71-42 shellacking of Verona last Thursday.

Roden grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with his seven points. Roden’s defense was also key as the Cardinals cruised to arguably their most impressive win of the young season.

“Alan, you look at him and say, ‘Well, he’s not a basketball guy,’ ” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “But he’s a guy I’ve always told him, ‘Hey, we can’t lose you to baseball only.’ And he’s turned into more than an inside guy. He’s shooting his free throws well, knocking down a few threes. He’s really doing it all right now.”

Middleton senior Brogan Brunker, the Big Eight Conference’s leading scorer, added 16 points and five rebounds. Senior forward Nick Michaels chipped in with 12 points and senior point guard Chan Bowman added 10 points.

Middleton improved to 3-2 overall and in the Big Eight Conference, while Verona fell to 4-2, 3-2.

“We’ve got some time under our belts now and we’re finding our identity,” Roden said. “I think we’re showing we can give some teams a run for their money.”

Twelve months ago, Middleton’s current senior class was largely asked to be just role players. Middleton had a talented, veteran bunch ahead of them led by current Division 1 players Tyree Eady (North Dakota) and Storm Murphy (Wofford).

But Middleton’s seniors had an excellent summer and haven’t stopped working since.

Brunker is texting Bavery many nights at 10:30 p.m. to find out how early his head coach can open the gym the next morning. Brunker lets his teammates know, and they’ve been showing up in droves to get in extra shooting before school.

The younger players are buying in, too, and it’s helped Middleton play at a level some didn’t believe it could.

“I think it’s just more opportunities for a lot of us,” Roden said. “Last year you had to give the ball to the playmakers. Storm and Tyree were the guys. But I think the opportunity is there more for me and some of the other guys now.

“I think we all knew that we had this potential in us. We had a great team last year and we sat and learned from them, but it’s paying off so far.”

Brunker agreed.

“We’re confident and we know how to play together a lot better than when the year started,” Brunker said. “Confidence is key.”

Middleton’s confidence was on full display against the Wildcats.

The Cardinals knocked down 8-of-12 three-pointers in the first half, outrebounded Verona, 18-7, and raced to a 42-26 lead at the break.

Brunker had seven points during an early 10-2 run that helped Middleton claim a 16-7 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Cardinals led, 25-20, with 6:29 left in the half when they smacked the Wildcats with another 10-1 run to grab a 35-21 edge. Junior guard Jack Boyle drilled a three-pointer and five points during the run, while Bowman also drained a three and Brunker scored a pair.

Those two bursts were vital in Middleton grabbing a 16-point halftime lead.

“Early we were giving some stuff ups in transition, not necessarily scores, but looks,” Bavery said. “But the pace was really good for us. We were finding shooters in transition. We were getting the ball inside. We had a couple of timely traps rotated well. And then there was a stretch where we were just physically dominant.”

Middleton’s dominance continued in the second half.

The Cardinals opened the half on a stunning 15-2 run to take a 57-28 lead that, for all practical purposes, ended things.

Roden had six points during that run and junior guard Sam Close knocked down a three-pointer. Brunker, Bowman and senior guard David Roquet also scored during the burst.

“I think a lot of guys were timid at the start of the year,” Brunker said. “Now that nervousness is gone. It all comes back to the confidence.”

Verona hasn’t always been a friendly place for Bavery’s teams to play.

Two years ago, for example, Middleton was 15-0 when it went to Verona and dropped a 62-61 decision. But the Cardinals’ journey this time was far more rewarding.

“This one felt pretty good,” Bavery said.

Roden, one of the stars of the night, was in complete agreement with his head coach.

“Our thing this year was to run hard and play a lot of guys,” Roden said. “Give 100% all the time and stay fresh. Right now it’s working.”

Thanks to players like Roden.

 

Dec. 14

Middleton 71, Verona 42

Middleton ……………. 42 29 — 71

Verona ………………… 26 16 — 42

MIDDLETON — Roden 3 1-2 7, Michaels 4 2-2 12, Roquet 1 0-0 5, Ticknor 2 0-0 5, Bowman 4 0-0 10, Brunker 6 2-2 16, Boyle 4 0-0 9, Close 2 0-0 5, Scher 0 2-2 2. Totals 27 7-8 71.

VERONA — Golden 1 0-0 2, Reilly 1 0-0 2, Kelliher 3 5-5 11, Clements 2 4-8 8, Kemper 3 0-1 6, Klawiter 1 1-1 3, Van 4 0-0 8, Pederson 0 1-2 1, Vander 0 1-2 1. Totals 15 12-21 42.

3-point goals — M 10 (Michaels 2, Roquet 1, Ticknor 1, Bowman 2, Brunker 2, Boyle 1, Close 1), V 0. Total fouls — M 18, V 10.

 

 

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