Big 8 Weekend Review
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
Friday, Jan. 18
On Friday night, the Sun Prairie Cardinals rolled the Beloit Memorial Purple Knights 60-45 in a match-up that featured two of the conference’s top scorers in Nick Fuller (Sr. F) from Sun Prairie, and Andre Neal (Jr. F) out of Beloit. Fuller led all scorers with 22 points and continued his streak of consecutive games this season scoring over 20 points. Fuller has amassed at least 20 points in all 15 of the Cardinals games this year. With the win, The Cardinals advance to 12-2 on the year with a 9-1 conference record and move up two spots in the Associated Press Division I state boys basketball poll. Sun Prairie is now ranked sixth in the state just behind Milwaukee Hamilton.
The Verona Wildcats edged out the Janesville Craig Cougars in a 65-60 affair thanks to 21 points from Andrew Argall (Sr. G) who was the games leading scorer. Verona picked up the team’s fourth conference win and sit at 4-6 on the year in Big 8 play. Craig had been on a bit of a roll lately winning four of the Cougars last five games, but the loss drops Craig to 5-7 on the season in conference and an even 8-8 overall.
This season continues to be a struggle for Janesville Parker as the Vikings dropped the teams 10th conference win of the year against the Middleton Cardinals in a 85-59 blowout. Derek Rongstad (Jr. G) finished with 25 points and has now scored over 20 points in five games this year including a pair of 18-point efforts. Middleton now sits comfortably in third place in the Big 8 with a 7-5 record while Parker remains dead last at 0-10.
Madison La Follette was able to reach the .500 mark on the year with a crosstown rivalry win over Madison West in a 62-52 shootout. At the half, La Follette led 27-26, but a strong second half by the Lancers resulted in the ten-point victory. Malik Clements (Jr. G/F) led all scorers in the game for the Regents with 24 points, but his standout night came in a loosing effort. Madison La Follette now sits in fifth place in the conference with a 6-6 record as West falls to eighth with a 4-7 mark.
*Big 8 Game of the Week*
In the Big 8 Game of the Week that featured the second crosstown rivalry game of the weekend, The Madison Memorial Spartans remained undefeated in conference play after knocking off the Madison East Purgolders in a 49-40 defensive showdown.
Madison Memorial was in control for much of the contest but East hung around for the entire game and refused to go away. On many occasions, Memorial would extend the lead to an eight-point game, and as much as 13 entering the fourth quarter, but the Purgolders always found a way to claw back into the game.
“I think defensively that was one of our best defensive outputs all season long in a very, very hard-fought game,” Madison Memorial head coach Steve Collins said. “And it always helps when you have a handful of guys that are over (six foot five inches) tall to force some bad shots.”
For much of the game, the interior defense of the Spartans was both too strong and simply too long and tall for the Purgolders to get anything going offensively.
Miles Kietzer (Sr. G), Madison East’s leading scorer on the season, was held to just 11 points on the night while no other Purgolder scored more than seven points throughout.
“We knew that they were a three-point shooting team and we just tried to force them into taking some bad shots on the move,” said Collins. “Those are tough shots that not many young men can make and we did a great job of forcing them to take those shots.”
Julian Walters (Sr. G) led all scorers with 16 points while also finishing with five assists and four rebounds on the night. Jester Weah (Sr. F), the Spartans leading scorer on the year, was held to just eight points but contributed to the victory in other ways finishing with 10 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and two blocked shots when all was said and done. Darryln Willis (Jr. C) also finished in double digits with 10 points and six rebounds in the contest.
Madison Memorial remains unbeaten in conference play with a spotless 11-0 conference record on the year. Madison East now falls to fourth place in the Big 8 after Middleton’s victory over Janesville Parker on Friday night as well.
“Our time management and how we finish games needs some work, maybe I’ll call Coach Ryan about that,” said Collins, referring to Wisconsin Badger head coach Bo Ryan. “But in the end I was proud of our guys sticking in all game long and beating a pretty darn good squad over there so I’ve given them the day off tomorrow to rest up for this second half push.”
The second half of the season promises to not disappoint in the Big 8 Conference.
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
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