VERONA — Madison Memorial point guard Cade Ellingson was disappointed in himself and wanted to make amends.
The 6-foot-2 junior did just that before halftime Thursday night.
Ellingson gave the Spartans welcome breathing room entering the break, spurring Memorial to a 52-37 victory over host Verona in a Big Eight Conference boys basketball game.
After missing the first free throw following a technical foul, Ellingson sank the second shot with 2.8 seconds left before halftime.
He then swished a 25-foot, 3-point shot with two-tenths of a second remaining, boosting the Spartans’ lead to 26-18 at halftime.
“I just came off a screen and was looking to redeem myself for missing that free throw on the technical,” said Ellingson, who scored a game-high 14 points. “That was a big swing — a big momentum changer.”
It was significant because the Wildcats trailed by only four points and had possession when Verona senior guard Bui Clements was called for a technical foul after his shot was blocked out of bounds.
The Spartans also gained possession after the technical foul shots.
“Every possession is important when you play Memorial because they are such a good defensive team,” first-year Verona coach Jevin Budde said. “The 3 at the end of the half … it hurt us quite a bit.”
Memorial (14-2 overall, 11-1 Big Eight), tied for seventh in Division 1 in The Associated Press state rankings, used a stifling, switching man-to-man defense while winning its seventh consecutive game.
The Spartans remained tied for a share of the league lead with third-ranked Sun Prairie.
“We are playing well right now,” Memorial coach Steve Collins said. “It’s hard to complain when you are 14-2. We are perfectionists, though, so we are never happy. But we are getting there. We are getting better. As a coach, that’s all you want, same as a teacher — just getting better every day.”
The Spartans scored the final six points of the first half and then went on a 13-1 run in the first 7 minutes, 20 seconds of the second half — opening a 39-19 lead over the Wildcats (7-7, 5-7).
In that span, Ellingson, who made three 3-pointers overall, sank a 3-point shot and a 12-foot jumper for the first five points in a flurry of 13 unanswered points.
“The majority of the game I am looking to just get the best shot possible, but when I feel the game isn’t going the greatest, I look for my shot a little more,” Ellingson said.
Spartans senior Tyshawn Caldwell, a starter this season after being cut in tryouts last season, scored off a feed from senior Elliott Grays. The 6-4 Caldwell then assisted on a basket by 6-5 junior Nick Caropreso, who had 13 points, before 6-5 senior Amaree Howard added two baskets in opening the 20-point margin.
Budde said Ellingson does a good job directing Memorial’s offense.
“When he knocks down shots, it’s really big for their offense,” he said.
“He hit some big shots,” Collins said about Ellingson, the team’s scoring leader who entered averaging 15 points per game. “That one going into halftime was big. There are a lot of weapons. It was pretty balanced. That’s the way our scoring has been all year. … It makes it harder to scout. I like that.”
Collins also liked his team’s mixture of defenses — notably the switching man-to-man — that held the Wildcats to 21 points for the first 30:27.
“We changed up,” Collins said. “We probably ran seven defenses at them trying to figure out something that was working. We eventually found something that worked really, really well and we stuck with it in the second half.”
Senior guard Grant Kelliher led Verona with 10 points.
Madison Memorial 26 26 — 52
Verona 18 19 — 37
MADISON MEMORIAL — Brown 0 1-2 1, Krumbach 1 1-4 3, Grays 3 1-1 7, Ellingson 4 3-4 14, Caropreso 3 7-8 13, Schaefer 1 2-2 4, Caldwell 1 0-2 2, Howard 3 2-3 8. Totals 16 17-26 52.
VERONA — Reilly 1 0-0 3, Kelliher 3 4-4 10, Clements 1 4-10 6, Slawek 3 2-2 9, Klawiter 1 0-0 3, Van 2 1-2 5, Poller 0 1-2 1. Totals 11 12-20 37.
3-point goals — MM 3 (Ellingson 3), V 4 (Slawek 2, Reilly 1, Klawiter 1). Total fouls — MM 17, V 20. Fouled out — Clements. Technical fouls — MM coach Collins; V Clements.