Cardiac Kids Doomed by Turnovers in Final Quarter
Denied record 10th straight bid to State Tournament
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
It all happened like a bad crash unfolding right in front of all of those that packed the Sun Prairie High School gym for the Sectional Final game between Madison Memorial and Mukwonago.
It was almost as if the absolutely unthinkable was inevitably going to happen. The proverbial car wreck that one could just see unfolding in front of their eyes, but could do nothing to stop.
Devastated by a nearly seven minute scoring drought in the final period and numerous turnovers, Madison Memorial’s dominance in the basketball world and on the state of Wisconsin came to an end in a 55-52 game that will forever live in the minds of those lucky enough to witness it.
“I honestly can’t believe this right now,” said Alex Tanguay, a senior leader and game MVP for the Indians. “I just can’t. We have just wanted this so bad ever since last year and we got it done, we got it done.”
Entering the fourth quarter, Memorial had held a 43-41 advantage over the revenge hungry Mukwonago Indians. The team Memorial had knocked off in the same game a year ago.
“We beat them last year so our guys were confident but really only Jester (Weah) was in that game,” said Steve Collins, Memorial’s head coach. “I was proud of our guys during the entire game, but, it just fell apart in those final eight (minutes).”
The atmosphere in the gym was buzzing all game long, but the final eight minutes tested the gyms ability to contain the energy.
Trading blows throughout the third quarter, and jabbing each other in the fourth, Mukwonago methodically worked itself right back into the game after trailing by as much as 11 in the first half, and by six points in the fourth.
“We had found ourselves down a number of times this year and we were always able to work our way back in it so we were confident throughout,” said Tanguay.
With the game tied with just over 2:20 left in the game, Tanguay received a pass on the right wing and sunk the decisive three-point basket to give the Indians the lead.
“Right when I got the pass I knew I was going to shoot, and I knew I was going to make it,” said Tanguay. “Our confidence level as a team was just so high after getting back into it and I guess I fed off that and it helped me with that shot.”
On the next three Memorial possessions, the Spartans would turn over the basketball for the fifth, sixth and seventh time of the quarter alone while essentially handing the Indians the victory.
All hope was not lost however, at least not for the moment.
Hero of the year for the Spartans, sophomore guard Shareef Smith, would sink his own three-pointer with :22.5 seconds remaining after a missed free throw by Mukwonago to bring the game back within 2 points at 52-50.
“After that three by Shareef I thought, OK, here we go again, maybe we can make another run,” said Collins. “But it just wasn’t in the cards. We played well but they just played better down the strech. That ultimately decided the game.”
But as Wayne Larrivee would shout on a Packer Sunday, the final dagger came moments later in the form of the Spartans eighth turnover in the quarter and the Indians were able to ice the game with three more free throws down the stretch.
As pure and utter elation filled one half of the gym, immense sadness and disbelief consumed the other.
The giant that was the Madison Memorial Spartans had finally been slain in a fashion fit for a story book.
“You know, they got us last year and we were just so devastated,” said Tanguay. “But we have honestly wanted this game for the entire year and when we finally got it there was no doubt on our team that we wouldn’t take car of business.
“They are no doubt one of the best teams in the state’s history, maybe even in the country,” said Tanguay. “We had so much respect for them and it is just the best feeling in the world to move on to Madison.”
When asked what coach Collins will take away from this season, Collins said, “If you get a group that buys in, and plays together, you can do tremendous things. They gave me everything they had. They were kind of the cardiac kids all season long and we banned together to achieve great things. There is only one team at the end of the year that is ever happy, but I am so proud of them.”
Mukwonago now will move on to face Milwaukee King (22-4) in the State Semi-final from the Kohls Center in Madison. The Indians first trip since 1996.
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
Return to: Prep Corner Blog