Big Performers in the Big 8 Conference so far this Season
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
Happy Holidays Everyone! I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas and will have a wonderful New Year. So far this season there has been a lot to be merry about for many of the teams in the Big 8. Some squads have already begun to separate themselves from the pack early this year and will look for even more success come 2013. Certain players have also begun to assert themselves as some of the top performers in the conference as well, leading their teams to many important victories. We take a break from eating our holiday hams and drinking egg nog to take a look at the conference’s top performers so far this season.
Top Teams in the Big 8
----Madison Memorial Spartans: Conference Record: 7-0 Overall Record: 9-0
Madison Memorial sits atop the Big 8 early this season thanks in large part to the Spartans victory over the Sun Prairie Cardinals a couple of weeks ago. The Spartans are fourth in the conference in overall scoring with 505 total points this season and have a very balanced offensive attack. With a combination of talented athletes on both the offensive and defensive side of the court, Memorial has been able to stay undefeated despite losing one of the teams best players in Brendan Ortiz, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury that has required surgery to repair.
Head coach Steve Collins has done a tremendous job of switching up the lineup in Ortiz’s absence and it has worked to a tune of a 9-0 start to the season.
Key wins for the Spartans: @Sun Prairie (75-74), Madison East (52-39) & @Madison West (64-58), Milwaukee Pulaski (80-40)
Memorials biggest win of the season is without question the victory over Sun Prairie, many analysts pick of top team in the conference. In that game, Jester Weah carried the Spartans to victory thanks to his 29 points and 14 rebounds in that contest. Weah scored 17 of his 29 points in the third quarter which helped the Spartans over come a 14 point deficit at the half. However, the hero of that game was Shareef Smith, who hit a game winning three pointer to lift Memorial to a 75-74 victory with just over 10 seconds remaining on the clock off of a perfect kick out pass from Julian Walters.
Memorial has also been able to defeat two of the other top Madison area schools with victories over East and West this season. Also, any time you can beat a team by 40 points is always an impressive feat.
----Sun Prairie Cardinals: Conference Record: 6-1 Overall Record: 9-1
The Sun Prairie Cardinals are another dominant team in the Big 8 so far this season. The Cardinals lead the conference in scoring with 688 total points and have scored over 70 points in all but two of the teams first 10 games. The teams biggest margin of victory this season came against Beloit Memorial in a 85-46 contest that was never in doubt. Led by two of the conference’s top players in Nick Noskowiak and Nick Fuller, the Cardinals have been able to run opposing teams out of the gym early and often in route to victory.
The Cardinals only set back of the season came against the aforementioned Spartans in a game that really could have gone either way. If it were not for a game winning shot near the buzzer, the Cardinals would be the top dog in this conference.
Key wins for the Cardinals: @La Follette (79-61), @West (66-60) and this squad just won the Sun Prairie Holiday Invitational Tournament this week by defeating Manitowoc Lincoln (78-71) and Fort Atkinson (82-44)
Again, that loss against Madison Memorial hurt the Cardinals overall ranking but this teams average margin of victory is 20.8 points per game, so the close, one point loss hasn’t shaken this teams confidence this season.
----Madison East Purgolders: Conference Record: 5-2 Overall Record: 6-4
Madison East holds down the third place spot in the Big 8 conference so far in this young season. It has been a mixed bag really for the Purgolders, as they have excelled in many games, but have also struggled in a few as well. Bad losses to West Allis Central (67-50), and to conference foe Beloit Memorial (63-49) have muddied the water so to speak on this East team. Is this team a real threat to compete for a conference crown as witnessed in victories against Madison West (65-60) and Madison La Follete (60-59) or will they be put in their proverbial place by top contenders as witnessed in the Madison Memorial loss by a score of (52-39)? Time will only tell with this team, but one thing can be for certain, there is a lot more of that remaining this season.
Key wins for the Purgolders: Madison La Follette (60-59) and Madison West (65-60), Waunakee (79-77)
----Other notable team(s): The Madison West Regents have scored 648 points this season, which is second in the conference in overall scoring. The Regents sit at 3-4 in Big 8 play, and 4-7 overall.
Top Players/ Performers in the Big 8
----Nick Fuller, Sr G/F, Sun Prairie Cardinals: Fuller is averaging 27.1 points per game and had 28 points and 9 rebounds in the loss to Madison Memorial, as well as a season high 33 points vs. Madison La Follette on Dec. 8. Fuller also added to his scoring totals with a 29 point outing against Verona back on the 29th of November and leads the conference with 190 total points so far this season.
----Malik Clements, Jr F, Madison West Regents: Clements has averaged 19.4 ppg this season. His season high came in a contest in which he scored 37 points in a rivalry game against La Follette on Dec. 1 and also had three games of 20 plus scoring to start off the year. 25 points, back to back 20 point outings and his 37 point game started off the season for this young man and then he followed up those performances with a 21 point game against Madison Memorial.
----Nick Noskowiak, So G, Sun Prairie Cardinals: Noskowiak is an underclassmen dominating the competition by averaging 18.0 ppg. He scored 22 points vs Beloit Memorial and Janesville Craig in back to back games and 23 points against Manitowoc Lincoln in the Sun Prairie Holiday Tournament this past week that wrapped up on Friday evening. Noskowiak scored 18 points and had 8 assists in the championship game of the tournament against Fort Atkinson.
----Jester Weah, Sr G/F, Madison Memorial Spartans: Weah, a standout wide receiver on the grid iron turned downright baller on the hardwood is averaging 13.3 ppg. His standout contest this season was against Sun Prairie when he scored 29 points and had 14 rebounds in that crucial victory for the Spartans.
----Julian Walters, Sr G, Madison Memorial Spartans: Walters has filled the roll left absent by Ortiz on this Spartan team and is averaging 10.9 ppg. His season high in scoring was first first game of the season against Middleton where he scored 15 points and also had the game winning dish (assist) to Smith for the game winning three in the pivotal conference matchup against Sun Prairie.
----Miles Kietzer, Sr G/F, Madison East Purgolders: 10.2 ppg average, Kietzer’s season high in scoring was a 23 point outburst against West Alllis Hale in a 67-50 loss for the Purgolders earlier in the year.
Big games coming up in the month of January in the Big 8:
Sun Prairie vs. Madison East on January 4th
Madison West vs. Sun Prairie on January 10th
Middleton vs. Madison Memorial on January 10th
Madison East vs. Madison La Follette on January 12th
Mad Memorial vs. Madison East on January 18th
Madison La Follette vs. Madison West on January 18th
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
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