Middleton-West ready for Round 3

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MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel


Players and coaches alike will tell you that the basketball season can be a grind.

It opens in mid-November. It drags through the long and gloomy winter months. And it doesn’t end — for some teams — until mid-March.

Middleton, though, hopes the end is still a few weeks away.

The Cardinals begin their second season Friday when they host Madison West in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal at 7 p.m. If Middleton prevails, it will most likely travel to Sun Prairie for a regional final Saturday at 7 p.m.

“West has been kind of an enigma, as they have been really up and really down throughout the season,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “But there is no denying their collective talent. They have all the pieces.”

Middleton finished the regular season 12-10 overall and tied for third place in the Big Eight Conference at 10-8. West went 7-11, 8-14.

The host Cardinals rolled past the Regents, 68-45, on Dec. 8. But West toppled visiting Middleton, 85-72, on Jan. 26.

“Obviously we're happy playing it at home,” Bavery said. 

West’s top player is junior point guard Malik Clements, who averages 20.1 points per game. Clements erupted for 33 points against Middleton during the Regents’ win last month.

“He hurt us bad in our loss to them,” Bavery said of Clements. “So he will be an obvious focus for us this Friday.”

West doesn’t play great defense and allows 60.1 points per game. Middleton, on the other hand, averages 61.6 points per game. So there should be plenty of opportunities for the Cardinals’ attack to get rolling.

“They have played some 2-3 zone, but we have shot people out of zones lately,” Bavery said. “So we'll be ready for either, but we expect mostly man to man and some pressure. 

“If we believe in running our stuff, screen bodies, and eliminate some of the easy transition baskets we gave up to them in our last game, we'll give ourselves a great chance to advance in the tournament.”

If Middleton advances, it will almost certainly be against Sun Prairie (19-3). Those two teams went to overtime last week, where Sun Prairie prevailed, 72-70.

“We hope to get another shot at them in the regional final,” Bavery said. “But it’s one game at a time starting with West.” 

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