Muskego downs Middleton's boys

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Jack Boyle and Middleton's boys basketball team fell to Muskego on Jan. 19./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

BROOKFIELD — Middleton senior guard Sam Close left Brookfield Central High School on Jan. 19 with a T-shirt for being chosen as the Cardinals’ Player of the Game.

Many of Close’s teammates left town with ice cream after stopping at a legendary frozen custard restaurant.

Aside from that, Middleton’s trip east yielded one giant headache.

The Cardinals never found a rhythm offensively, shot just 25.5% and dropped a 55-39 decision to Muskego at the Luke Homan Memorial Showcase held at Brookfield Central High School. Close led the Cardinals with 16 points, including three three-pointers.

Middleton, which defeated Verona less than 24 hours earlier, fell to 9-6 overall. Muskego, which had several players from its state championship football team, improved to 10-4.

“They just kind of beat us effort wise,” Close said. “A lot of fast breaks down the court where they got a lay-up or we fouled them, and they didn’t miss their free throws. And then just moving the ball and getting open shots … we didn’t do a very good job there.”

Middleton would have had a distinct size advantage had it been at full strength. But 6-foot-7 junior post Parker Van Buren was at a volleyball showcase event in Chicago and 6-foot-5 Jake Klubertanz — the Cardinals’ leading scorer — was in foul trouble all night and held to two points.

“That should have been an area where we could have attacked,” said Middleton coach Kevin Bavery, whose team shot 12-of-47. “But we didn’t have enough depth at post.”

Instead, Muskego played a packline defense, which is a “sagging” man-to-man. The basic premise is to clog the middle, protect the paint, and prevent dribble-penetration. 

The Warriors played it extremely well and forced the Cardinals to fire away from the perimeter. Middleton had several good looks throughout the game, but simply couldn't connect.

“We just have a tendency when we’re down to try and do too much too soon,” Bavery said. “At this point in the season, our ability to read beyond the initial (read) just isn’t there yet.

“You have to know when to reverse the ball and when to take a look from the top inside and when we just have to turn it. We still tend to be too robotic.”

The game was an exercise in frustration for the Cardinals from start to finish.

Middleton shot just 3-of-22 in the first half (13.6%), yet trailed only 24-19 at the break.

That’s because the Cardinals got in the bonus early and made 11-of-14 free throws (78.6%). Close knocked down two three pointers and had 11 first half points. And Middleton’s defense was extremely good, holding to Muskego to 7-of-27 shooting (25.9%).

“We were just kind of waiting for that little spark to put us ahead or tie it up,” Close said. “Unfortunately, they were the ones that had that and kind of blew it away.”

They sure did.

Close drilled a three-pointer and was fouled with 14:15 left in the game and pulled Middleton within 29-24. But Muskego answered with a 7-0 run over the next 1:18 and stretched its lead to 36-24 with 12:42 remaining.

From there, Middleton couldn’t come closer than eight points — something it did three times.

The final time came after a basket by senior guard Casey Hellenbrand pulled Middleton within 42-34 with 6:40 left. But the Warriors answered with an 8-3 burst over the next three minutes to push their lead to 50-37 and end any comeback hopes the Cardinals might have had.

“It’s always fun to come down and play at tournaments like this,” Close said. “You’d just like to play a little bit better.”

Bavery agreed.

Since winning six straight games from mid-December to early-January, the Cardinals have dropped three of four. And with the postseason just a month away, Bavery knows his team must find a branch of consistency to hold onto soon.

“We just really need to clean some things up and do it soon,” Bavery said. “Because right now, we’re just not consistent enough.”


Jan. 19

Muskego 55, Middleton 39

Muskego ……………. 24 31 — 55

Middleton …………… 19 20 — 39

MUSKEGO — Makinen 6 1-3 15, Kwapick 1 0-0 2, Greenthall 2 0-0 4, Malkowski 2 7-11 12, Drana 1 3-4 6, Chovanec 2 2-3 6, Dowd 1 0-0 2, Wauer 1 1-2 3, Wohler 2 0-1 5. Totals 18 14-23 55.

MIDDLETON — Thomas 0 1-2 1, Hellenbrand 1 0-0 2, Close 4 5-6 16, Klubertanz 1 0-0 2, Boyle 1 0-0 2, Scher 2 1-2 5, Deptula 1 2-2 4, Johnson 0 1-2 1, Patterson 2 2-3 6, Schultz 0. Totals 12 12-17 39.

3-point goals — MUS 5 (Makinen 2, Malkowski 1, Drana 1, Wohler 1), MID 3 (Close 3). Total fouls — MUS 17, MID 21. Fouled out — Boyle.



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