Youth Basketball Ends Near “Perfect” Season With Annual Post-Season Tournament
Numerous photos, including all division championship team photos, of the youth basketball program will be available in the March 1 printed edition of the Madison Record
MADISON- The 2022-2023 youth basketball season in Madison was a perfect season for some and near-perfect for others. Seven of the eight divisions had teams post undefeated regular season campaigns with four of those squads racing through the post-season tournament with victories in the championship battle, thus completing a perfect season.
The 10-Boys Suns, 11-Girls Liberty, 14-Boys Sixers and 18-Boys Bulls all claimed division championships in both the regular season and tournament play to complete undefeated seasons while the 7-Boys Bulls, 8-Boys Bulls and 12-Boys Timberwolves posted 10-0 regular season marks before falling in the extra play. The 8-Girls Sky had one loss in the regular season (9-1) to win the schedule title and nailed down the championship trophy in the post-season tournament.
The program hosted by the Madison Recreation Dept. featured 69 teams spread out through the eight divisions of both boys and girls play. The season culminated with the post-season tournaments with finals held throughout the month of February. The championship games were completed as follows:
The Bulls pulled off their perfect season with three wins in the tournament posting victories over the Cavs, Celtics and Raptors. In the finals against the Raptors (7-6), who were 5-5 during the regular season and came alive with wins over the Bucks, and Heat before facing the top-seeded Bulls, the Bulls came back in the second half after trailing 17-11 at halftime. Posting 15 points in the third quarter and 16 in the fourth stanza, the Bulls (13-0) captured the championship trophy with a 52-29 win.
The Bulls, led by coaches Cameron Benefield, Jeffrey Conway and Stuart Nelson, had two players score in double figures as Owen Lockette had 15, including 11 in the explosive second half, and Ben Conway as he scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half. For the Raptors, Michael Sieger led in scoring with 12 while Ram Gade had seven.
The Sixers opened a seven-point lead after the first quarter and maintained the lead to a 43-33 victory over the Warriors (11-2) to post a perfect season. The Sixers (13-0) had three players finish the title game scoring in double figures. Those were Elijah Degante (13), Nicholas Koukos (12) and Reece Brazeal (12). For the Warriors, Joshua Wilhide was tops with 15 while Cal Duthu added eight. The Sixers were coached by Mark Brazeal and Thomas Koukos.
The Timberwolves were one win away from a completed perfect season and a tournament championship, but a slow first half against the second-seeded Mavs, where the No. 1 seed T’Wolves scored just five points and fell behind by eight at halftime, put a sour end to what was a sweet season. The Mavs upset the Timberwolves 27-22 in the title game. The Mavs (11-2) had a well-rounded scoring barrage from the team as Liam Anderson was tops with eight and Samuel Cooke, Salomon Diaz and Mason McMahan each tallied six points. For the runner-up T’Wolves (12-1), Thomas Barbee was the leading scorer hitting for nine points and Sean Sieja added five.
The Lady Liberty stood tall in the 11-Under girls’ division as the No.1 seed team rolled through to a 12-0 perfect season with a 26-23 defeat of the second seeded Fever. The Fever led by five at halftime but could muster just 10 points in the second half while the Liberty scored 18 in the second half, including 13 in the fourth quarter, to squeeze out the three-point victory. Loraleigh Copeland led the Liberty with 10 points, six of which came in the fourth quarter, and Lanie Waddail added six points. For the Fever (10-3), Madison Godwin and Madelyn Spiliar scored six points each and Madeline Parker added five. The Liberty was coached by Dustin Copeland and Denny Langston.
The James Gardner coached Suns capped off a perfect 13-0 season with their 36-26 victory over the Heat for the title championship. A 17-4 scoring advantage for the Suns in the third quarter erased any doubts of who the winner would be as Max Gardner of the Suns led all scorers with 18 points, 10 of which were posted in the third quarter alone. Brantley Phillips added 11 for the winning Suns. For the Heat (10-3), Makari Miller put on a show scoring 16 of the team’s 26 points.
The one-loss Sky doubled up their opponent in the finals with a 25-12 defeat of the Lynx (8-4). A 10-nothing fourth quarter was the difference in the game for the No. 1 seed as Zyla Mitchell scored 12 points on the game and Cybil Gebus put in 11. The Lynx was a one-girl show as Jersey McKinnon scored all 12 of the team’s points in the loss. The Sky (11-1) was coached by Brent Mikelson.
In what was the game and certainly the fourth quarter of the post-season tournament, the second-seed Lakers outscored the top-seeded and undefeated Bulls 12-0 in the fourth quarter to complete a wonderous comeback and post a 22-21 victory for the championship trophy. Leading 21-10 going into the final stanza, the Bulls could not muster one single point while the Lakers took control with their dozen points. Brooks Vinson was the leading scorer for the Lakers (10-3) with five of his seven points coming in the fourth quarter. Dallas Miller added six points for the winners. The Bulls’ (12-1) Brody Duvall was the game’s top scorer with 16, but he was held to just two points in the second half.
Camden Strode scored 10 of the Lakers’ 12 points, but it wasn’t enough to derail the Suns in the division final matchup. The Suns (11-2) defeated the fifth-seeded Lakers (8-5) 24-12 for the title. Kannon French was the Suns’ leading scorer as he poured in 13 on the game.