'No regrets' as Middleton tops Oconomowoc

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Alan Roden's terrific all-around play helped Middleton top Oconomowoc in a regional semifinal Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Kevin Bavery had a simple message for his Middleton boys basketball team Friday night.

“I told them at this time of the year, when it’s over it’s over,” Bavery said. “Make sure there are no regrets.”

They didn’t.

Middleton used a 15-0 run late in the first half and cruised to a 72-41 win over visiting Oconomowoc in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal. The seventh-seeded Cardinals improved to 13-10 and advanced to a regional final at second-seeded Waunakee Saturday at 7 p.m., while the Raccoons ended their year 11-12.

Senior forward Alan Roden led a balanced Middleton attack with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting and added seven rebounds, two steals and three assists. Senior forward Brogan Brunker added 12 points, senior guard Nick Michaels made three three-pointers and had 11 points and senior post Brian Vergenz didn’t miss a field goal or a free throw and had eight points.

“When we’re balanced like that, we’re really tough to beat,” said Brunker, who added seven rebounds. “I think we have a lot of confidence right now and everyone feels comfortable with the ball in their hands.”

Middleton listened closely to Bavery’s “no regrets” message and played with passion and fire. Of course, Roden has played that way his entire life.

The 6-foot Roden is the ultimate grinder and jack-of-all-trades. He was at it again Friday when he attacked the rim with a vengeance, rebounded with gusto and even handled the ball against the Raccoons’ dangerous full-court press.

“At our (postseason) banquet I said that every year it’s tough to say goodbye to your seniors,” Bavery said. “But there is no player I’m going to miss more than Alan Roden.

“He’s the ultimate grinder. We need to find another one of him (for next year), but the problem is there aren’t a lot of Alan Roden’s out there.”

Roden had plenty of help during this dominant effort.

Brunker made 6-of-11 field goals (54.5%) and was a force on both ends. Michaels made half of his three-point attempts and played solid defense.

And Vergenz continued his late-season surge with aggressiveness on both ends of the floor.

“Every time we go out there now, it kind of means a lot more,” Vergenz said. “We know it could be the last time. I’m just trying to leave it all out on the court.”

Middleton did just that during a game-changing run late in the first half.

There were seven lead changes and two ties in the first 8 ½ minutes and the Cardinals held a 20-18 lead midway through the half. Then over a span of 4 minutes, 46 seconds, the Cardinals erupted on a 15-0 burst and surged to a 35-18 lead.

In that stretch, Middleton made five straight shots and scored on seven of eight possessions. On the flip side, Oconomowoc went 7:03 without a point and missed a remarkable 16 straight shots.

“It’s a game of runs and we made ours early,” Brunker said. “We forced them into some tough shots and our offense was working. And it was good to get out to a big lead like that.”

Roden, who had a smaller guard on him early in the contest and took full advantage, started the run with a driving lay-up that gave Middleton a 22-18 lead.

After a Raccoons turnover, Bavery made a tactical switch that paid huge dividends. Middleton was struggling with Oconomowoc’s full court pressure, so Bavery had Roden and Brunker bring the ball up court against bigger players that couldn’t defend them.

“Their two guards really hunt the ball and cause some problems,” Bavery said of Oconomowoc twins Dominic and Cameron Briggs. “So that switch really worked well for us.”

It sure did.

On Middleton’s first possession with Roden at point guard, he drove the lane and found Joel Ticknor for a three-pointer that gave the Cardinals a 25-18 lead. On the Cardinals’ next possession, Nick Michaels came free in the right corner off an inbounds play and drilled a three-pointer to make it 28-18.

Brunker then attacked from the left wing and converted a reverse lay-up. Vergenz scored inside off a nifty feed from junior guard Sam Close, then Middleton made 3-of-4 free throws as the lead ballooned to 35-18.

“We shot really well and we had our inside-out game working,” Vergenz said. “It was good to get ahead like that.”

Middleton’s lead was 35-21 at halftime, then the Cardinals kept the pressure on throughout the second half.

On Middleton’s opening possession of the half, Michaels threw a perfect alley-oop pass to Brunker for a lay-up. And after the Cardinals got a stop, Roden found Michaels for a three-pointer that pushed Middleton’s lead to 40-21.

The closest the Raccoons came after that was 14.

“I thought we made a lot of timely plays,” Bavery said. “We really stayed after them, and after we got that lead, didn’t really let them back in the game.”

Middleton finished the night 25-of-47 from the field (53.2%) and 13-of-17 from the line (76.5%). The Cardinals also held Oconomowoc to 7-of-29 shooting in the first half (24.1%) and 14-of-47 for the game (29.8%).

“I definitely think that was one of our better games,” Brunker said. “We turned the ball over a little bit, but we didn’t let it rattle our cage. We really competed hard and stayed composed.”

And made sure they had no regrets.


March 2

Middleton 72, Oconomowoc 41

Oconomowoc …………. 21 20 — 41

Middleton ……………. 35 37 — 72

OCONOMOWOC — Briggs 2 0-0 5, Briggs 2 2-4 6, Enright 4 0-0 12, Perrine 2 2-2 6, Platter 3 2-2 9, Sterwald 1 1-2 3. Totals 14 7-10 41.

MIDDLETON — Roden 7 0-0 14, Michaels 4 0-0 11, Roquet 0 1-2 1, Ticknor 2 1-2 7, Vergenz 2 4-4 8, Brunker 6 0-0 12, Klubertanz 0 5-6 5, Boyle 1 1-1 4, Close 1 0-0 3, Scher 1 0-0 3, Thomas 1 1-1 4. Totals 25 13-17 72.

3-point goals — O 6 (Briggs 1, Enright 4, Platter 1), MID 9 (Michaels 3, Ticknor 2, Boyle 1, Close 1, Scher 1, Thomas 1). Total fouls — MID 10, O 14.


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