Garlock powers MHS to Border Battle win

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Will Garlock had 21 points as Middleton’s boys basketball team beat Benilde-St. Margaret’s, 51-47, last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Twelve months ago, Will Garlock was like a baby fawn.

Nothing came easy. With each step forward, he’d stumble and fall. And Garlock’s impact on Middleton’s boys basketball team was minimal, at best.

Today, Garlock is well on his way to becoming one of the top players in Wisconsin and someone coveted by colleges near and far.

During Middleton’s game against Benilde-St. Margaret’s at the Wisconsin-Minnesota Border Battle last Saturday, Garlock was the best player on the floor. The 6-foot-10 Garlock poured in a game-high 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and led the Cardinals past the Red Knights, 51-47, in a game held at Prescott High School.

Middleton, ranked second in the latest WIAA Division 1 Associated Press poll, improved to 14-0. That matches the Cardinals’ best start in at least 30 years.

The Red Knights, one of the top teams in Minnesota, slipped to 12-2 after the Cardinals forced 24 turnovers and held them to just 34% shooting and a season-low point total.

“Will did a great job of going right at the heart of their team inside, not only scoring but drawing fouls on their best player,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said of Garlock, who made 10 of 13 shots from the floor. “His footwork and skill set has always been a key attribute for him, but his demeanor is getting more and more aggressive and his confidence is growing.

“We need to consistently take those looks inside in the flow of our offense for all of our post players and even our perimeter players when they get good position. But we have to make extra sure we continue to get him touches based on how well he's been converting.”

Middleton also got 17 points and 10 rebounds from senior guard Gavyn Hurley, who struggled early, but got better and better as the game progressed and showed again why he’s the Big Eight Conference’s reigning Player of the Year.

“He didn't react as well as he should have when they blitzed him off ball screens and he rushed some of his passes in trying to make the big play at times instead of the safe play,” Bavery said of Hurley. “But his go-to is always defensive rebounding and busting out in transition. Once he got a few boards you could see him grow more and more comfortable, and when he got an 'and one' driving layup in transition off a handoff action I knew he'd be solid the rest of the game.”

Nothing came easy for the Cardinals in this contest against the long and extremely athletic Red Knights. Benilde raced to a 13-4 lead and Middleton quickly abandoned its man-to-man defense for primarily a 1-3-1 zone that made better use of its length.

“We always temper what we see on tape in terms of size and athletic ability,” Bavery said. “In person you see the actual size, muscularity, quickness, and so on. They were the real deal as a team, and have a couple of really high level kids who are already garnering interest from high major division one college programs.

“When they jumped out early with their ability to defend, penetrate, and knock down shots I was concerned that we were tentative. My assistants reminded me that they have some great individuals, but we are the better team, and they were spot on.”

Middleton began to play like the better team, too, using a 9-0 run to take a 19-16 lead midway through the first.

Garlock started the run with a free throw, then Owen Cooney scored on the left block to pull Middleton within 16-13. Will Comerford drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game, then Hurley hit a running 5-footer, was fouled and made the free throw to give the Cardinals a 19-16 lead.

At halftime, Middleton held a 27-26 advantage.

“We felt good at half,” Bavery said. “We think we solved some things with spacing on offense and other ways to make their pressure work against them. And we talked about how to keep the ball out of the high post better in our zone, as that's where they were putting their best player.”

Middleton trailed, 33-32, with 7:15 remaining when it embarked on a game-changing, 12-1 run over the next 5 minutes and took a 44-34 lead.

Freshman guard Isaiah Oliver started the run, driving the right baseline and making a nifty reverse lay-up to give the Cardinals a 34-33 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Hurley then drove the lane for a lay-up and Garlock banked home a 5-footer as Middleton’s lead grew to 38-33 with 5:45 remaining.

After a Benilde free throw, Garlock scored from in close after a clever inbound play, Hurley hit a 15-footer from the free throw line, then Hurley drilled two free throws as Middleton’s lead ballooned to 44-34 with 2:09 left.

The Cardinals’ eventually built a 51-38 advantage with 30 seconds left, before Bavery cleared his bench and Benilde finished the game on a 9-0 run.

"We couldn't be more proud,” Bavery said. “We had so many contributors. Isaiah (Oliver) handled the full court pressure great. Carter (Kadow) gave us needed physicality in the second half. Kaden (Fosdick) helps keep the ball moving for us on offense when it sticks at times.

“They didn't match our overall size, yet they were as big as anyone we've faced and they were extremely explosive when they went to the basket. We were physical, forced turnovers, and took care of the ball the rest of the way.”

Middleton’s win also gave Wisconsin a 4-3 win in the 16th annual ‘Border Battle.’

“We were the feature game, and the deciding game in the battle,” Bavery said. “So our win gave Wisconsin a 4-3 advantage.

“We took a big step forward, but more importantly the first comment from the players in the locker room after the game was ‘We can get better.’ As always, our focus shifts to the next practice, then the next game, emphasizing that everyone remaining on our schedule are quality teams that will give us their best shot.

“We need to focus on ourselves first, and then respecting every matchup we have. There's an adage the read 'respect all, fear none.’ So far we've done a good job of that.”

• On deck: Middleton travels to Sun Prairie East Thursday at 7:15 p.m., then hosts Madison East Saturday at 7:15 p.m.=

 

MIDDLETON 51, BENILDE 47

Benilde .... 26 21 — 47

Middleton ... 27 24 — 52

BENILDE — (fgm ftm-fta pts) Jayden Daisy 1 0-0 2, Ron Lee 1 0-0 3, Jaleel Donley 4 0-0 12, Kayden Wells 1 0-2 2, Abu Keita 1 1-2 4, Jalen Wilson 6 5-6 18, Christian Wiggins 2 0-0 6. Totals: 16 6-10 47.

MIDDLETON — Gavyn Hurley 6 5-7 17, Isaiah Oliver 1 0-0 2, Kaden Fosdick 2 0-2 4, Owen Cooney 1 0-0 2, Will Garlock 10 1-3 21, Will Comerford 1 1-2 4. Totals: 21 7-16 51.  

3-pointers: B 9 (Donley 4, Wiggins 2, Wilson, Keita, Lee), Middleton 1 (Comerford 1).

 

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