Middleton’s streak ends at 17

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Dennis Semrau/Special to the Times-Tribune
Gavyn Hurley and Middleton’s boys basketball team suffered their first loss of the season last Friday, falling in overtime at Madison La Follette./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

MADISON – All good things must come to an end.

For Middleton’s boys basketball team, its dream of an unbeaten season disappeared last Friday night in a raucous Madison La Follette gym.

Senior star Gavyn Hurley scored a game-high 26 points, including sinking three free throws to force overtime for the Cardinals, who rallied from a nine-point deficit 7 minutes into the second half.

But senior guard Mason Kleinsmith drilled a 3-pointer to open the extra session, and the Lancers held on for a 75-72 victory over previously unbeaten and second-ranked Middleton in a Big Eight Conference matchup.

“Overall, we played well in terms of how hard we competed,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “We certainly didn’t play our best game, but La Follette had a lot to do with it.”

The Lancers gained some revenge for Middleton’s homecourt 64-55 victory over La Follette on Jan. 4. The Cardinals, who began the season with 17 consecutive wins, fell to 17-1 overall and 14-1 in the league.

“That was a pretty intense game,” Hurley said of the rematch. “The crowd was wild. It was actually fun to play. Even though we lost, it was fun.”

It was a wild finish that saw five lead changes in the final 3 minutes of regulation.

Middleton trailed, 60-59, with 26.4 seconds left in regulation when sophomore center Will Garlock calmly sank two free throws to give the Cardinals a brief lead.

“I had never been in that situation before,” said Garlock, who finished with six points and four rebounds. “It was a great atmosphere. It felt like a playoff game, even a state game.”

But La Follette senior forward Reak Riak – who had a fantastic game with 17 points, including five dunks, five rebounds and three blocked shots – scored off an assist from senior guard Arhman Lewis to push La Follette (12-4, 11-4) back in front with 19.2 seconds left.

Freshman guard Thian Riak, Reak’s brother, then stole the ball in the frontcourt and streaked downcourt for a layup with 10 seconds remaining.

After a Middleton timeout, Hurley launched a desperation 3-pointer from just inside the midcourt stripe with 1.1 seconds remaining that fell short. But after it was ruled that Hurley was fouled by Kleinsmith on the play, La Follette coach Torrance Holmes was assessed a technical foul which set up a unique situation.

“I have to be better,” Holmes said. “I have to be more poised for my team because that technical could have cost us the game.”

Hurley was sent to the free throw line for five free throw attempts – three on the foul for being in the act of shooting from 3-point range and two for the technical foul.

“The ball ended up in my hands, and I just wanted to throw it up there,” said Hurley, who recorded a double-double with 11 rebounds. “I got run over a little bit, so it was a good call.”

After Hurley made just one of three attempts assessed for the personal foul to trim the Cardinals’ deficit to 64-62, he made the first shot of the technical foul before Holmes called timeout.

But Hurley calmed drained his final attempt to tie the score at 64-64.

“I was pretty nervous after they called the time out, and I realized that I had to make that one,” said Hurley, who was 11 of 13 at the free throw line. “My teammates told me it was going down. Coach Bavery told me ‘after you make this, we’re going to run this play.’

“So I was confident after the time out. I think the icing actually helped me with it.”

Middleton then inbounded the ball at midcourt. But the Cardinals were unable to get a shot off before time expired to force overtime.

Middleton center Will Garlock won the tip-off to start the overtime period. However, Reak Riak stole the ball from Garlock in the post and on the ensuing possession, Kleinsmith drained a 3-ball from the top of the key for a 67-64 lead the Lancers never lost.

“That was a big moment that gave us back the momentum,” Holmes said of Kleinsmith, who had missed five of his six previous 3-point attempts in the game. “That carried us through the overtime. When you think about it, we won by 3.”

Kleinsmith, the smallest player on the court at 5-foot-8, came up big with seven of his 14 points in overtime. That helped La Follette deal Middleton its first loss in 330 days — a 57-39 setback to Brookfield Central in the WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinals last season.

After Kleinsmith sank a layup for a 73-66 lead with 1:06 remaining in overtime, Middleton made one final push.

Following a time out, Hurley drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner to pull within 73-69. After Reak Riak missed a layup on the other end, Will Cooney, who finished with a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, scored inside for the Cardinals to make it a one-possession game.

La Follette senior reserve forward Oge Enwemnwa then sank one of two free throws to extend the lead to 74-71, leaving the Cardinals a chance to tie with a 3-pointer.

But the Lancers’ defense prevented a Middleton 3-point attempt, and senior guard Kaden Fosdick was fouled driving to the basket with 3.5 seconds remaining.

Fosdick, who played a terrific all-around game with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists, made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second. But senior forward Daniel Bedaso corralled the rebound for La Follette and sank the first of two free throws with 0.3 seconds remaining to cap the scoring.

La Follette won despite sinking just 11 of 25 free throw attempts (44.0%), including 4-of-10 in overtime. Middleton was 18-of-27 from the charity stripe (66.7%). The Cardinals also outrebounded the Lancers, 47-34, and held a 36-23 advantage on points in the paint.

Madison La Follette, though, was able to take advantage of 16 Middleton turnovers, converting them into 21 points.

“We knew we had it in us,” Holmes said. “We know what type of team we are. We are gritty. We get after it. But the best is yet to come.”

While an unbeaten season is off the table, Bavery said the Cardinals’ goal of earning their first trip to the state tournament in 25 years remains intact.

“Our first realistic goal is a conference title,” said Bavery, whose Cardinals have a three-game lead with five conference games left to play. “La Follette, any chance that they have as a second-place team is to win out and hope we stumble a number of times. They took their first step.

“Hats off to them. When you win, no matter how you win, you’re never quite at the level you feel you are. When you lose, you’re never at the depths that you put yourself at quickly. You tend to overanalyze everything. I just want to stay on an even keel.”

Bavery said he wanted the Cardinals to put the setback in perspective, and they look to rebound on Thursday against Janesville Parker on Youth Night.

“One thing we told the guys was that when Stevens Point won their last title, we beat them by 30 at Middleton. They ended up winning the state tournament title,” he said. “Intentional or otherwise, our game was left off the state tournament program. I’ll never forget that. However, that happens, that’s not us. We’re going to embrace and learn from this loss and give credit where credit is due.”

Bavery said pace of play has been important to the Cardinals’ success to date, but the Lancers had the upper hand this time around.

“We’ve been able to dictate it in almost every game,” Bavery said. “They started out in a 1-3-1 (zone), and I’m sure they were expecting that we would be thinking be ready for man because they had played us pretty much man the entire game the last time.

“We really tore that 1-3-1 up early and they switched to the man. For the most part, we moved the ball early and got pretty good shots. But we still didn’t attack inside like we needed to. When we go inside out, good things happen. We get to the free throw line. We get our best 3-point looks when we go inside out. Still, that’s a step we need to take.”

There were five lead changes in the first half, but Lewis, who finished with a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds along with six assists, scored on a drive to tie the game at 32-32 in the final seconds of the first half.

“He is crafty with what he can do and get in the paint,” Garlock said of Lewis. “Those floaters and penetration get him to the line, and he can create for his teammates when he gets to the rim. He was hard to keep control of.”

Junior forward Quinton Lomack scored the last of his 10 points with a dunk off an assist from Kleinsmith to give La Follette a 44-36 lead nearly 5 minutes into the second half.

But on the ensuing possession, Lomack fouled out when he picked up his fourth foul and was also assessed a technical foul on the play for his fifth foul.

That left it up to Lewis, who promptly took over.

“He’s our best player,” Holmes said of Lewis, who has committed to play at NCAA Division II Augustana in South Dakota nest year. “We ask a lot out of him. This right here is something he normally does. It’s nothing new. He’s very capable of putting the team on his back and going and going and getting it. You saw that tonight.

“But we can’t rely on that every night. We need our top five players every game.”

Lewis then sank a 3-pointer and added a layup to push La Follette’s lead to 49-40.

“He’s a tough guard for anyone,” Hurley, a Winona State recruit, said of Lewis. “I thought in the first game we played him, I thought we guarded him really well. He was like 4-for-15 from the field. But he got loose in our zone and a little bit in man at the end. We need to work on keeping him in front.”

But Hurley was just as tough to handle for the Lancers.

Hurley drained a 3-pointer off an assist from Fosdick with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation to ignite a 16-3 run, capped by a 3-pointer from junior forward Avery Houden, which gave Middleton a 56-52 lead.

“We fought hard all the way to the end,” Hurley said. “We were down by 7 in overtime with a minute and a half left, then I got the 3 in the left corner and OC (Owen Cooney) hit a shot. But we fought all the way to the end.

“Coach told us about how we beat Stevens Point by 30 and they ended up winning state. Eventually, every good team is going to have an off-game and lose one here or there. But I’m just glad it wasn’t in the playoffs and our season was done.

“We can really learn a lot from that game. We need to come back as a team at practice and move on. That’s the big lesson. We have to get our team chemistry back up.”

• On deck: Middleton hosts Janesville Parker in a Big Eight Conference game on Youth Night on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. The Cardinals then play a league game at Beloit Memorial on Saturday at 12:40 p.m.


Feb. 3

Madison La Follette 75, Middleton 72 (OT)

Middleton …….…… 32 32   8 — 72

Sun Prairie West …. 32 32 11— 75

MIDDLETON (fg ft-fta pts) — Gavyn Hurley 6 11-13 26, Joe Schwartz 0 0-0 0, Isaiah Oliver 2 0-0 4, Kaden Fosdick 8 3-9 19, Carter Kadow 0 0-0 0, Owen Cooney 5 2-2 12, Will Garlock 3 2-2 8, Avery Houden 1 0-0 3, Will Comerford 0 0-1 0. Totals 25 18-70 72.

MADISON LA FOLLETTE— Mason Kleinsmith 6 0-2 14, Arhman Lewis 8 4-8 22, Reak Riak 8 1-5 17, Quinton Lomack 4 2-2 10, Thian Riak 2 2-2 6, Daniel Bedaso 1 1-2 3, Oge Enwemnwa 0 1-2 1, Will Arkin 0 0-1 0, Will Dietrich 0 0-0 0, Marques Cooke 1 0-0 2. Totals 30 11-24 75.

3-point goals: Mid. 4 (Hurley 3, Houden 1); MLF 4 (Kleinsmith 2, Lewis 2); Total fouls: Mid. 22, MLF 22. Fouled out: Lomack (MLF).


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