Middleton's boys edge Sun Prairie

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MTT News's picture
Adam Hatlan/For the Times-Tribune
Jake Klubertanz and Middleton's boys basketball team edged Sun Prairie last Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Free throws, free throws, and more free throws.

When Middleton’s boys basketball team met Sun Prairie last Friday night, free throw attempts were abundant as the teams combined to shoot 68.

Middleton came out victorious in the free throw battle, though, and survived a last-second shot attempt by visiting Sun Prairie in the back-and-forth affair to notch an important 62-60 win.

Middleton won its sixth straight game and improved to 8-3 overall, 5-3 in the Big Eight Conference. The win also moved Middleton ahead of Sun Prairie (4-4, 6-4) for sole possession of fourth place in the Big Eight.

“We told our guys before the game we had won five in a row, but it was against competition that we knew we could play against,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “But going up against Sun Prairie it was ‘are we good enough?’ and ‘can we stop all of their firepower?’

“It came down to a couple of big possessions when we had to have the ball and we had to get to the line and knock down free throws. For the most part, we did that.” 

Fouls and free throw shooting were the difference in the game.

Middleton committed 26 fouls and made 22-of-31 free throws (71.0%), while Sun Prairie committed 27 fouls and was 19-of-37 from the line (51.4%).

Middleton senior forward Jake Klubertanz went 11-of-13 from the line and scored a season-high 19 points. Klubertanz also made four-of-five field goals.

Senior guard Sam Close added 14 points and senior guard Chandon Thomas had 10.

Middleton shot 17-of-42 (40%) as a team from the floor.  

“We shared the ball well tonight,” Klubertanz said. “It’s really nice to have that balance because we have a lot of guys that can score. When we understand that we need to share the ball and when we do it, we can be a really good team.”

Middleton was able to shut down Sun Prairie’s top two scorers — Brock Voigt and Delaware Hale — who entered the game averaging a combined 31 points. The two combined to shoot 1-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-12 from the line for a combined seven points. Sun Prairie shot 20-of-51 as a team (39%), and shot one-of-thirteen from three-point range (7.7%).

“I thought we did a good job on defense when (Hale and Voigt) were in the game,” Klubertanz said. “We made some good adjustments coming in, watched a lot of film on them. I felt we prepared really well for them and for Sun Prairie.”

The teams exchanged the lead for much of the first half and Middleton’s 14-8 advantage was the largest lead by either team in the half. Overall, there were 14 ties or lead changes during game.

Sun Prairie went on a 10-2 run to end the first half, though, and took a 29-25 halftime lead. Sun Prairie junior guard Dawson Hughes led all scorers at the half with 18 points on seven-of-seven shooting. Hughes finished with a game-high 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting. 

Middleton responded with a 15-4 run to open the second half and took a 40-33 lead with 12:27 left in the game. Close had six points in that stretch to lead Middleton’s surge.

Sun Prairie answered with a 10-0 run of its own to take a 43-40 lead with 7:18 left in the game. Sun Prairie guard Rajai Williams had six points in that stretch.

Middleton trailed, 49-46, with 4:29 left in the game when it went on a 10-1 run over the next 1:11 to take a 56-50 lead. Klubertanz had a five-point play during the burst, scoring a basket, drawing a foul and making the free throw. 

Before Sun Prairie inbounded the ball, guard Delaware Hale had some words for a referee and received a technical foul. Klubertanz made the two technical free throws to give Middleton a six point lead.

“Typically Sam (Close) or Jack (Boyle) would be our guy [to shoot] if there was a technical foul,” said Bavery. “Immediately when that technical foul was called Jake had the ball in his hand and looked right at me and he pointed at himself. Those were two big free throws to knock down there.”

Middleton led the rest of the game, but Sun Prairie got to within one point twice.

Middleton was protecting a 61-60 lead with 5.7 seconds left when Ben Scher grabbed a rebound and was fouled. Scher made the first free throw but missed the second, and Williams sped down the court for Sun Prairie. His contested shot fell short of the rim, though, as time expired.

“I thought tonight was the best game we’ve played all year. We all clicked together and it was really nice to see,” Klubertanz said. “Obviously we have things to work on. After we lost to Memorial people were counting us out in the conference, but we didn’t let that get to us. We just want to keep grinding and focus on getting better every week.”

Bavery knows his team still has room for improvement, but called the win against Sun Prairie the best one of the season to date.

“I know we still have a long way to go, but I think tonight was the first time the team realized that if they can play with Sun Prairie, they feel they can play with anybody in the league,” Bavery said. “To come out on top in a game like this, still knowing how much we have to work on, I think will do a lot for their psyche.” 

• On deck: Middleton is at Madison LaFollette Thursday at 7:15 p.m. and hosts Madison East Saturday at 7:15 p.m.


Sun Prairie…. 29   31 — 60

Middleton…... 25   37 — 62

Middleton- Patterson 1 1-1 3, Deptula 1 0-2 2, Thomas 3 2-2 10, Close 4 4-5 14, Scher 2 1-2 5, Boyle 2 3-6 9, Klubertanz 4 11-13 19. Totals 17 22-31 62.

Sun Prairie- Nelson 1 0-0 2, Williams 5 1-2 11, Wherley 0 2-2 2, Austin 2 4-6 8, B. Voigt 1 3-6 5, Hughes 10 6-11 27, A. Voigt 1 0-2 2, Hale 0 2-6 2, Fritz 0 1-2 1. Totals 20 19-37 60.

Three point goals- MID 6 (Thomas, Close, Boyle 2) SP 1 (Hughes). Total fouls- MID 26 SP 27. Technical fouls- SP 1 (Hale). 


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