Middleton boys notch huge win over Memorial

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Dennis Semrau/For the Times-Tribune
Chandon Thomas and Middleton's boys basketball team defeated Madison Memorial for the first time in nearly three years last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The post on a Madison Memorial Twitter account said it all.

“It has now been 1,078 days since Middleton beat us in boys’ basketball, and we’re looking to keep the streak going tonight,” according to the item on JMM Sports Themes.

But a determined Middleton squad led by senior guard Chandon Thomas put a fork in that streak last Saturday night.

Thomas scored 18 points and senior forward Jake Klubertanz chipped in with 14 to rally Middleton from a one-point halftime deficit to a 61-50 victory over host Madison Memorial in a Big Eight Conference game.

“This was a good one to get, breaking a long curse,” said senior guard Jack Boyle who added 11 points for the Cardinals.

Middleton (11-6 overall, 8-5 Big Eight) moved into a tie for fourth place in the Big Eight with Madison Memorial (9-5, 8-5). The Cardinals had lost six straight games in the series with the Spartans dating back to Feb. 13, 2016, when Middleton won 77-63 at Memorial.

The Cardinals also swept the season series that year, taking down the Spartans 71-63 at Middleton on Dec. 19, 2015.

Cardinals’ coach Kevin Bavery was particularly pleased how his team responded after Memorial won at Middleton, 60-34, on Dec. 7.

“We were pretty steady the whole game against a team that beat us by 26 at Middleton,” Bavery said. “We couldn’t stay with them in that game.

“They’ve had our number over here. But we deserve to beat this team if we do all of the things we’re capable of doing.”

Middleton used an aggressive defensive effort and some clutch free throw shooting to turn the tide against the Spartans and win for the third time in the last four games, while dealing Madison Memorial its fourth loss in a row.

The Cardinals mixed in a 1-3-1 zone with a tenacious man-to-man effort to keep the Spartans in check for most of the game.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Klubertanz, who sank four straight free throws in the final 2 minutes to keep Memorial at bay. “It’s a great environment and is super fun to play here.”

Both teams opened the game with deliberate attacks. Memorial ran more than a minute off the clock on its initial possession, while the Cardinals didn’t attempt a field goal for nearly 2 minutes.

Thomas drained a three-pointer to open the scoring and set the stage for a first half that saw three ties and five lead changes.

Klubertanz said Thomas provided a spark to get the Cardinals going on both ends of the floor.

“He’d do anything for the team, anything at all,” Klubertanz said. “Just how much we appreciate him is unreal. He did so much good tonight and he was a big reason we won that game.”

Thomas and Boyle scored six points apiece in the first half, while Klubertanz added five for Middleton. The Cardinals sank 8 of 16 field goal attempts and 3 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ defense held Memorial to 37.5% shooting (9 of 24), including 4 of 12 (33.3%) from 3-point range.

Middleton outrebounded the Spartans, 19-7, in the opening half, but the Cardinals committed nine turnovers to none for Memorial to keep the game close.

Boyle’s old-fashioned three-point play gave Middleton a 21-20 lead with 1:07 remaining before halftime.

But Memorial senior guard Cade Ellingson sank a layup off an inbounds play with 2 seconds remaining to give the Spartans a 22-21 lead at the break.

“In the first half, honestly, I don’t think we could have played better,” Klubertanz said. “Ellingson’s a good player, and he’s going to make a lot of those. It was super frustrating when that shot went in.”

Middleton took the lead for good at 25-24 on Boyle’s driving layup 2 minutes into the second half.

Madison Memorial kept it close behind Ellingson, who scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the closing 12 minutes of the game.

“We let him get to the rim too much in the second half,” Bavery said of Ellingson, a retuning second-team all-conference performer. “He started going one-on-one and taking us too deep.”

The Cardinals did hold sophomore guard Kyle Yu, who scored 12 points in the teams’ earlier meeting, to just three points on one second-half trey.

“He really hurt us at Middleton,” Bavery said of Yu. “But Sam (Close) did a great job on him. He was on Yu most of the night and took the three away.”

Thomas, who picked up his third foul in the opening minute of the second half, sank two free throws with 4:57 remaining to give Middleton its largest lead of the game at 49-40.

“I was in foul trouble, guys came in and stepped up, played defense and ultimately got boards,” Thomas said. “That’s what we needed to win games, those rebounds.”

Thomas, who eventually fouled out with 1:40 to play, took turns defending Ellingson, whose two free throws with 2:27 remaining pulled the Spartans within 52-48.

But Klubertanz sank two free throws, senior forward Ben Scher made one of two at the line, and Klubertanz added two more foul shots to push the lead to 57-48 with just more than a minute to play.

“I take a lot of pride in that,” Klubertanz said of his free-throw shooting. “I want to be the best free throw shooter. Early on, that wasn’t the case. Down the stretch, it was important that I hit those four, and I’m glad I did.”

Middleton shot a sizzling 75 percent from the field in the second half (12 of 16). The Cardinals outrebounded the Spartans, 31-16, and also shot 63.6% at the line (14 of 22) for the game.

“We responded really well,” said Boyle who was 4 of 5 from the free-throw line. “We did a good job of finding the one open guy that we could and hit him and down the stretch knocked down our free throws when we got fouled.”

Scher, who came off the bench to score five points – all in the second half — provided the dagger when he rebounded a missed free throw and sank a layup to cap the scoring.

Bavery lauded the play of the Cardinals’ reserves that included key contributions not only from Scher, but also junior Henry Patterson and seniors Casey Hellenbrand, Keegan Severn and Wyatt Wirkus.

“That’s important when you have a long, grinding game like that,” Bavery said.

Thomas said the Cardinals were determined to end the Spartans’ winning streak against Middleton and provide a glimpse of the team’s postseason potential.

“This is the game that we needed,” Thomas said. “But it wasn’t just me. It wasn’t just Jack and Jake. It was the guys on the bench who didn’t play. It was everybody.

“We’ve got a great team here and our chemistry is great and we’ve just got to continue that this season.”


Jan. 26

Middleton 61, Madison Memorial 50

Middleton ....................... 21 40 — 61

Madison Memorial ........ 22 28 — 50

MIDDLETON — Chandon Thomas 6 3-4 18, Sam Close 3 0-0 7, Jack Boyle 3 4-5 11, Jake Klubertanz 4 6-9 14, Parker Van Buren 2 0-2 4, Henry Patterson 1 0-0 2, Casey Hellenbrand 0 0-0 0, Wyatt Wirkus 0 0-0 0, Keegan Severn 0 0-0 0, Ben Scher 2 1-2 5. Totals 21 14-22 61.

MADISON MEMORIAL — Cade Ellingson 7 5-6 19, Logan Younk 1 0-0 2, Nick Caropreso 5 0-2 12, Dryden Schaefer 2 1-3 6, Kyle Yu 1 0-0 3, Daemiontae Bates 1 2-2 5, Kwan Lewis 0 0-2 0, Ian Brown 1 0-0 3, Justin Jackson 0 0-0 0, JR Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Drew Collins 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 8-15 50.

3-point goals — M 5 (Thomas 3, Close 1, Boyle 1), MM 6 (Bates 1, Brown 1, Caropreso 2, Schaefer 1,Yu 1). Total fouls — M 16, MM 21. Fouled out — Thomas (M).




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