Middleton boys down Verona

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MTT News's picture
Adam Hatlan/For the Times-Tribune
Casey Hellenbrand and Middleton's boys basketball team downed Verona on Jan. 18./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Middleton boys basketball coach Kevin Bavery knew that facing Verona on Jan. 18 was a challenge his Cardinals couldn't take lightly.

Verona, which sits near the bottom of the Big Eight Conference standings, had won three of its last four games. And the Wildcats are coached by former Middleton assistant Javin Budde, who knows the Cardinals inside and out.

The teams were deadlocked at 39 late in the contest. But Middleton finished on an 11-1 run and toppled the Wildcats, 50-40, at the Coaches versus Cancer game in Middleton.

Middleton improved to 9-5 overall, 6-5 in the Big Eight and snapped a two game losing streak. Verona dropped to 4-11 overall and 3-8 in the Big Eight.

“Verona has lost so many close games and also played (Madison) La Follette to a three-point game and had (Madison) East down early in the second half,” Bavery said. “When we played at Verona earlier in the year, we got up to an 18-point lead at half and they cut it to a point in the second half where they almost tied us. We turned an 18-point lead into a six point win that night. Tonight was very similar to that game.”

Senior Jake Klubertanz led Middleton with 13 points. Senior point guard Jack Boyle also had a strong night for Middleton and finished with 12 points, including a huge three-point basket late in the second half that gave Middleton a four-point cushion.

“(Verona) is a really good team,” said senior Jack Boyle. “They’ve played really well against everyone in the conference. They had close games against both LaFollette and East who are two of the top teams in the conference...they gave us their best shot.”

Middleton led 24-15 at the half and then led 28-15 two minutes into the second half. Verona used their perimeter shooting to carry themselves back into the game, led by senior Ryan Van Handel. Van Handel had four of Verona’s six three-pointers in the second half, all which came in the first eleven minutes.

“We had a really good first half against them the first time we played them. We went up twenty on them and they came storming back,” said Boyle. “We knew they would come back and make some adjustments, and obviously they did. Van Handel started hitting some shots, so we knew we had to stick to him.”

Boyle had the task of sticking with Van Handel after Van Handel made four three-pointers in a row, the fourth pulling Verona within one point at 37-36 with just under eight minutes left in the game. Van Handel scored 12 of his game-high 20 points in the second half.

“We went into a little bit of our ‘twenty’ zone, but had me stick with him and not leave him,” said Boyle. “Since he was just killing us from outside and just hitting everything at that point, we knew we had to get him out of his rhythm.”

Having Boyle shadow Van Handel seemed to work as Van Handel attempted only two more shots the rest of the game - both three-pointers - and missed them both. 

“We let Van Handel get away from us...he single-handedly shot them back into the game,” said Bavery. “We had four guys playing in our normal zone and we had Jack Boyle chasing him everywhere. I think it really did take Van Handel out of the game for a stretch, because he was running everywhere to get open.”

Middleton jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game and would lead by as many as eleven in the first half on their way to a 24-15 lead at the half.

At halftime, the fans in attendance donated money towards the Coaches versus Cancer fundraiser and raised nearly $700 in one minute.

Middleton came out of halftime and took a quick 28-15 lead two minutes into the half. Verona answered with a 9-0 run to make it 28-24. Verona would hang within four points of Middleton until tying it at 39 on a three-pointer by senior Reagan Klawiter with just over four minutes to go.

Middleton led 40-39 and had the ball, and Boyle hit a huge three-pointer that gave Middleton a 43-39 lead with 2:36 left in the game.

“We called our ‘Yoda’ play which is usually looking to go to the post, but sometimes off that first screen when I come up, I’ve gotten open on a couple looks,” said Boyle. “I got open and I knew I was ready to shoot it. I shot it, it went in, and it gave us a two possession lead.”

Bavery echoed the magnitude of the late-game Boyle basket. 

“I thought Boyle hit a big three for us,” said Bavery. “We were running an offense designed to get the ball inside or get an open three pointer at the top; he got a good open three and he buried it.”

Middleton was able to make their final six free throw attempts to ice the game and survive with the 50-40 victory.

Bavery was thrilled the Cardinals were able to take care of the pesky Wildcats and grind out a tough win. 

“I really liked our composure down the stretch and really liked our shot chart tonight. In the first half...nearly everything was in the paint,” said Bavery. “Guys are starting to recognize where our strength is: it’s inside, and then inside-outside. We’ve got guys that can finish down low.”

“I thought we really valued our possessions tonight - we were a lot more patient,” added Bavery.  “Tonight was a very, very satisfying win against a team that is playing much better basketball.”

On deck: Middleton hosts Madison West Thursday, January 24 at 7:15 PM then travels to Madison Memorial Saturday January 26 at 7:15 PM.


Verona…...15   25----40

Middleton...24  26----50

Middleton- Patterson 3 2-3 8, Thomas 1 2-3 4, Hellenbrand 1 0-0 3, Close 1 0-1 2, Scher 0 2-2 2, Boyle 4 2-2 12, Klubertanz 5 3-4 13, Van Buren 3 0-2 6. Totals- 18 11-17 50.

Verona- Anderson 2 1-4 5, Klawiter 2 0-0 6, Odetunde 1 0-0 2, Slawek 3 1-3 7, Van Handel 7 1-2 20. Totals- 15 3-9 40.

Three-point goals- MID- 3 (Boyle 2, Hellenbrand) VER- 7 (Van Handel 5, Klawiter 2). Total fouls- MID- 15 VER- 15. Technical fouls- Odetunde (Verona).






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