Boys basketball team heating up

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Ben Jackson and Middleton’s boys basketball team notched two impressive wins last week./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Deep. Gifted. Resilient.

If ever there was a time Middleton’s boys basketball team proved they were all of the above, it was last week.

The Cardinals rolled to a pair of impressive Big Eight Conference wins against two teams that frustrated them at times last season.

First, Middleton defeated Madison West, 76-44, last Tuesday avenging a postseason loss to the Regents from last March. Then the Cardinals belted Janesville Craig, 78-56, in a game where point guard Storm Murphy (illness) didn't play.

Middleton improved to 4-1 overall and is 3-1 in the Big Eight Conference. The Cardinals remained tied for second in the league with Sun Prairie, one game behind conference leader Madison Memorial (4-0, 4-0).

Middleton’s win over Madison West was extremely impressive.

The Regents returned a solid core from last year’s team, which reached the sectional finals. But Middleton jumped to a 47-19 halftime lead and cruised to an easy win.

“It was the first game that felt like ‘us,’ ” said Middleton coach Kevin Bavery. “We attacked the glass, shot the three-pointer in good catch-and-shoot rhythm, and started getting some things out of our press.

“We press for a variety of reasons, but year in and year out, it seems like when we don’t have energy in our press it flows into our offense. We don’t need steals, but we need to wear on people and let them make mistakes as the game wears on.”

Middleton senior wing Tyree Eady had a game-high 25 points, while Murphy had 16 of his 17 points in the first half when the outcome was largely decided.

Senior guard C.J. Fermanich had 10 of his 13 points in the first half, while senior center Ben Jackson also provided a first half spark with seven of his nine points.

Murphy added six assists, six rebounds and three steals, while Eady had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Jackson led the Cardinals with eight rebounds, while Fermanich added five assists, junior guard Alan Roden chipped in six points and senior post Jack Smith had four rebounds.

West pulled within 17 midway through the second half, but couldn’t come any closer. Middleton made 19-of-25 free throws (76.0%) and outrebounded the Regents, 44-39.

West’s Terrell Carey led all scorers with 27 points and added 20 rebounds.

“He was definitely on our radar for two things, keep him off the offensive boards and if he gets a head of steam going, you better take a charge,” Bavery said of Carey. “We didn’t do either of those two things very well, and it shows in a league of elite players what one player can do if you let him get going. We’ll have to shore up that area a lot when we see them again.”

Middleton had everything shored up at Janesville Craig.

In the regular season finale last year, the Cougars toppled the Cardinals in Middleton. That loss meant the Cardinals shared the Big Eight title with Sun Prairie and Madison Memorial instead of capturing it outright.

Middleton got a small measure of revenge with a convincing win over the host Cougars this time.

Eady had a monster game with 30 points and four steals, while Fermanich had 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Roden chipped in six points, seven rebounds and three assists, while junior guard Davis Roquet had six points and senior wing Myron Ashford Jr. had four rebounds.

While Eady and Fermanich were the show stoppers, Bavery was thrilled with his entire team.

“Obviously those two were amazing,” he said of Eady and Fermanich. “But the ability for eight other players to run in and out around them, all making contributions, was really the key.

“Some guys really hadn’t had their numbers called much this season, but they didn’t blink. They came in and played the game hard, which is what we expect.”

Middleton outrebounded Craig, 36-24. The Cardinals also shot 26-of-31 from the free throw line (83.9%), 21-of-45 from the field (46.7%) and 10-of-27 from three-point land (37.0%).

“Janesville Craig has all the elements of a great team,” Bavery said. “They have a 6-foot-9 forward who is difficult to stop when he gets it deep, plus he can step out and hit the perimeter shot.

“They have two high quality guards who are four-year varsity players. They have two knock down catch-and-shoot guys who can really hurt you. But I’m not sure how deep they can go and that’s what we always like to find out.”

Middleton found out how deep it can be, excelling without Murphy — a first-team all-Big Eight player last season. The Cardinals moved Fermanich to point guard against the Cougars and the results were sublime.

“C.J. is a natural point guard, but with Storm playing the majority of his minutes at point, C.J. has moved to a shooting guard spot,” Bavery said. “Seeing him back at point certainly opened our eyes as to his value at that position, giving us more flexibility going forward. He played virtually the entire game without any drop in effort and execution.”

Eady picked up a pair of early charging fouls and sat the final 15 minutes of the first half. Still, Middleton showed its depth and resiliency and built a 31-22 halftime lead.

Fermanich had 10 first half points, while Roquet had five points and Roden added four.

“We were really going to find out what we were made of in that first half after Tyree went out,” Bavery said. “We have a lot of faith in our entire roster and were never tempted to put him back in.

“Had Craig started to make a big run at us, maybe. But we got a big first half from Fermanich and everyone else around him chipped in on both ends of the court, whether it was a key basket, rebound, or hustle play.

“We handled that first half with a lot of poise, and with the firepower that Craig has, 22 points allowed was a great team effort.”

Eady then put on a second half clinic, scoring 27 of his game-high 30 points after intermission.

“He's a great player, and even though we had what I thought was good defense on him, he made plays,” Craig coach Mike Miller said of Eady. “That's what great players do.”

Eady made 11-of-12 free throws in the second half, as Middleton was terrific from the charity stripe and prevented the Cougars from making any type of charge.

“We start every morning with a quick 25 free throws before the first block of the day,” Bavery said. “It gives us a chance to check in with players, but also helps to wake them up for their academic day.

“The additional benefit, of course, is an improved team free throw percentage over time, something that was pretty evident in our two games this past week.”

• On deck: Middleton hosts Verona Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the ‘Coaches vs. Cancer’ game.

The Cardinals then face two-time defending WIAA Division 1 state champion Stevens Point Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Kaukauna.


Dec. 9

Middleton 78, Janesville Craig 56

Middleton …………………….. 31 47 — 78

Janesville Craig ……………. 22 34 — 56

MIDDLETON — Ashford 2-2 2, Eady 8 11-12 30, Fermanich 5 7-8 21, Jackson 1 0-0 3, Maly 2 0-0 4, Michaels 1-2 1, Roden 1 4-4 6, Roquet 2 1-2 6, Smith 1 0-0 2, Ragsdale 1 0-0 3. Totals 21 26-31 78.

JANESVILLE CRAIG — Anhold 4 3-7 11, Blomgren 3 4-4 12, Christianson 2-2 2, McCann 3 0-0 9, Negus 2 0-0 5, Payton 5 2-4 13, Malmanger 2 0-0 4. Totals 19 11-22 56.

3-point goals — MID 10 (Eady 3, Fermanich 4, Jackson 1, Roquet 1, Ragsdale 1), JC 7 (Blomgren 2, McCann 3, Negus 1, Payton 1).Total fouls — MID 19, JC 15.


Dec. 6

Middleton 76, Madison West 44

Middleton …………………… 47 29 — 76

Madison West …………….. 19 25 — 44

MIDDLETON — Eady 10 5-7 25, Fermanich 5 3-5 13, Jackson 3 2-3 9, Jr. 2 0-0 4, Roden 2 0-0 6, Wipfli 1-2 1, Murphy 4 6-8 16, Ticknor 1 0-0 2. Totals 27 17-25 76.

MADISON WEST — Carey 12 2-6 27, Miller 2-4 2, Parker 4 0-0 10, Shanklin 1 0-2 2, Stephens 1 0-0 3. Totals 18 4-12 44.

3-point goals — MID 5 (Jackson 1, Roden 2, Murphy 2), MW 4 (Carey 1, Parker 2, Stephens 1). Total fouls — MID 19, MW 21.


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