31-Game Conference Winning Streak Snapped For Memorial
Sun Prairie Duo Comes Up Big Late for Victory
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
Two years, 11 months and six days ago, the Madison Memorial Spartans lost the teams last Big 8 Conference game against Madison East.
About two hours, 11 minutes and six seconds ago, the Sun Prairie Cardinals handed the Spartans a 64-53 loss thanks to an offensive explosion by one of the best duo’s in the state of Wisconsin.
Nick Fuller, the Big 8 Conference’s leading scorer, and Nick Noskowiak, the conferences third leading scorer, combined for 48 points in the 11 point victory over the previously unbeaten Madison Memorial Spartans on Friday night.
“There is a point in a game where the ball needs to go the right guys,” Sun Prairie head coach Jeff Boos said. “The ball went to the right guys, (Fuller and Noskowiak) and the guys made the plays. I know they are going to make shots and we were just trying to get the ball in their hands, so we said lets go to work and lets do it.”
Three of the best players in the conference squared off in the battle of top dogs in the Big 8. Fuller and Noskowiak have been the main playmakers for the Cardinals, and newly committed wide receiving recruit Jester Weah for the Pitt Panthers headlined the Spartans squad.
In a game that stood at 23 all entering the halftime break, Fuller and Noskowiak combined for 15 points, five and 10 points respectively, while Weah finished the half with nine points, and finished with 15, thanks to a buzzer beating 15 foot jump shot he made after stealing the Cardinals inbound pass to end the second quarter.
The momentum was noticeably on the Spartans side, credited to the raucous capacity crowd that filled the gym, at the beginning of the half but the tides quickly changed once the third quarter began.
“Memorial did a great job of pressuring me and limiting my game but Nick (Noskowiak) made a lot of huge plays for us in that first half,” Fuller said. “I sometimes try to force somethings but in that second half it all came to me and fortunately our team was able to establish a lead we never really gave up.”
Noskowiak led all scorers with 10 at the break, and had an exceptional second half as well to finish the game with 22 points.
“Our coaches do a great job of putting me in positions to attack the hoop with great spacing and screens so I had to step up,” Noskowiak said. “We could sense the momentum shifting a little bit towards the end of the half so it was important for us to come out firing after the break.”
Fuller erupted for 13 points in the third quarter and had all but two of the Cardinals 15 points in the third. Fuller finished the game with 26 points and eight rebounds.
“I think in the second half we got it going because we went to a different action set offensively for (Fuller) that opened up somethings,” Boos said. “He was able to get a couple of mismatches on him with their bigs coming out on him and Fuller was able to take it to the rim and score.”
In fact, Fuller scored 11 straight points for Sun Prairie in a four minute stretch in the quarter that enabled the Cardinals to establish the all important momentum heading into the final period with the score remaining deadlocked, this time at 38.
“I think we were able to settle down a little bit more on offense in the second half than what we did in the first half,” Boos said. “That was the key for us, to settle down and just let the game come to us.”
Fuller and Noskowiak keyed a fourth quarter push and completely took over the game by scoring 20 of the Cardinals 26 points in the final quarter.
A long range three-pointer by Fuller opened the quarter for Sun Prairie and 10 consecutive free throws by Noskowiak iced the game late in the fourth to give the Spartans the teams first conference loss in 31 attempts.
“There was a lot at stake in this game, you want to play four perfect quarters, 32 minutes of ball but in reality it doesn’t always come that way,” Boos said. “You give Memorial a lot of credit, they took a lot of things away from us early on, but we were able to adjust and pick up one of the most important victories in quite sometime for this team.”
Madison Memorial still sits atop the Big 8 with a 12-1 record in conference play, but now Sun Prairie is right behind them nipping at the Spartans heals with a 13-2 record.
“This win means everything, it means the conference race is still up for grabs and it is just a huge confidence booster,” Fuller said. “After that first loss to them, that kind of ripped our hearts out. I have so much respect for Memorial, but I thought we were the better team and we wanted to prove it tonight, and hopefully we did.”
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
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