Middleton takes aim at Sun Prairie

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MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel
Derek Rongstad an Middleton's boys basketball team travel to Sun Prairie for a regional final Saturday night./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Just 11 days ago, Sun Prairie broke the collective hearts of Middleton’s boys basketball team.

Middleton will gun for revenge Saturday night when it travels to Sun Prairie for a WIAA Division 1 regional final at 7 p.m.

Sun Prairie (20-3) is the regional’s top-seed and shared the Big Eight Conference title. Middleton (13-10) is the No. 4 seed and tied for third in the league.

“We have nothing to lose and they have everything to lose,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “I like that position.

“All the pressure should be on them. Our guys should be able to come out and play loose.”

Middleton reached the regional finals after edging Madison West, 46-42, in a regional semifinal Friday night. Junior guard Luke Schafer had 16 points, including a clutch three-point play late to seal the win. Junior guard Derek Rongstad added 12 and senior forward Tyler Markel had two huge second half three-pointers.

Sun Prairie also survived a nail-biter, edging ninth-seeded Oconomowoc, 51-46.

“They have a great team and we have a lot of respect for them,” said Schafer, whose team fell to twice to Sun Prairie during the regular season. “We want to prove we can beat them. It should be a lot of fun.”

Middleton was on the verge of a huge win at Sun Prairie on Feb. 12.

Middleton led, 62-59, with 12.9 seconds left and Sun Prairie had the ball. Middleton debated whether to foul, or not, which would have eliminated the possibility of a three-point shot. But the Cardinals eventually elected to play man-to-man defense.

Sun Prairie’s Nick Fuller made Middleton pay for that strategy, though, and drilled a 27-footer at the horn to force overtime.

“Going forward we'll give fouling stronger consideration in a similar situation,” Bavery said.

The game was still tied at 67 late, when Sun Prairie went on a 5-0 run to seal it.

“We kind of had our hearts broken in overtime,” Rongstad said. “But we know we can play with them. It’s going to be exciting.”

Middleton also fell to Sun Prairie, 63-48, on Dec. 15. Rongstad, Middleton’s leading scorer, missed that game with a hand injury.

Sun Prairie is led by Fuller and sophomore guard Nick Noskowiak — who are both Division 1 talents.

Fuller, a Nebraska recruit, is the Big Eight’s all-time leading scorer. This season, Fuller is averaging 24.5 points per game with a high of 40.

Noskowiak, who’s drawing attention from several Division 1 schools, is averaging 17.9 points per game. Noskowiak had a season-high 31 points in his last game against Middleton.

“They’re both terrific players,” Schafer said. “It’s a tough challenge.”

But it’s one Middleton is excited for.

“It should be a great atmosphere,” said Bavery, whose team was eliminated by Sun Prairie in the postseason a year ago. “There won’t be a lot of empty seats. I think it’s going to be another great game.”

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