Collins, Spartans continue amazing run
MADISON Coach Steve Collins and Madison Memorial High School’s boys basketball program are moving into exclusive company in Big Eight Conference and WIAA tournament history.
Tonight will be the Spartans’ sixth state championship game in seven years. By anybody’s standards, regardless of the final outcome, that’s a remarkable accomplishment.
Being a math teacher, Collins has a special interest in wanting to balance out Memorial’s championship-game record at 3-3.
“I haven’t looked at the gold balls lately, but I see the banners in the gym every day,” he said of the Spartans’ previous five state finalists.
Meanwhile, Collins is the all-time leader among Big Eight coaches for most state championship games, having accounted for all six. Not bad for 12 years of coaching.
The legendary Herman Jacobson coached Beloit in four state titles games and won three. Bernie Barkin, another Beloit legend, won two of four.
As a school, Madison Memorial still has some catching up to do in most appearances in the title games. Despite an oversight in the WIAA’s list of records, Beloit holds the state mark with 10 title games.
Overall, the Big Eight has won 17 championships, led by Beloit’s seven, followed by Madison La Follette’s three. Madison West and Memorial each have two, Janesville Parker, Madison East and Racine Park (a Big Eight charter member) each one.
-- Randolph coach Bob Haffele will have eight state championships, all since 1996, when (not if) his Rockets prevail today in Division 4.
-- For those who were wondering why Madison Memorial wasn’t quite its dominating self through parts of this season, Collins had an answer after Friday night’s 68-48 semifinal win over Appleton East.
“This was the hardest group to get to do what I needed them to,” the coach said. “That’s why we struggled early.”
The turnaround came in playing great defense. And it would be safe to say Neenah and Appleton East struggled against the Spartans’ trapping defense.
-- The Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook’s Mark Miller, a longtime authority on state high school sports, made this interesting observation:
“It’s amazing to look at the Big Eight (boys basketball) standings and see (Madison) Memorial on top and (Janesville) Craig on the bottom.”
-- Janesville native John Furrer will officiate today’s Division 4 championship game.
-- The “Little Eagles” youth basketball players from Sauk Prairie put on one of the most crowd-pleasing halftime shows in some time. Indeed, the future looks bright for coach Tim Marshall and the Eagles.
-- Jordan Fredrick, a 6-4 junior starter on Madison Memorial’s basketball team and widely recognized as a Big Eight football standout, is the grandson of legendary Neenah basketball coach Ron Einerson.
-- After its Hawaiian display on Thursday, it was “white-out” time Friday in the Memorial student section.
-- Nothing—not even a down-to-the-wire game—fires up the students more than when the live TV camera zooms in on their section.
-- In case you didn’t notice, Division 3 is in line for its seventh straight private-school champion. Milwaukee Marquette fell short of becoming the first private school to reach the Division 1 finals.
-- Memorial’s chances of winning a second straight title may be enhanced more by playing Hartland Arrowhead rather than Milwaukee Marquette, which might have been more likely to pull the Spartans into a troublesome half-court game. Even so, Arrowhead coach Craig Haase says he’s not interested in getting into a “track meet” with Memorial.
-- The tournament crowd was hungry for a buzzer-beater, and Arrowhead’s Charles Rushman delivered with the three-pointer that nailed Marquette, 60-58.
Rushman’s shot also delivered a major win for the Gazette Prediction Machine, which picked Arrowhead to win that Division 1 semifinal game 62-59.
Overall, it was 4-2 day for the GPM, with a 2-0 sweep in Division 1, along with 1-1 splits in Divisions 2 and 3. That puts the state tournament record at 7-5 and the overall postseason mark at 103-39.
And the GPM says the state finals look like this:
Division 1—Madison Memorial over Hartland Arrowhead, 59-55. Division 2—Waukesha Catholic Memorial over Maple Northwestern, 62-57. Division 3—Racine St. Catherine’s over Eau Claire Regis, 58-45. Division 4—Randolph over Green Bay NEW Lutheran, 63-47.