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Thursday, November 27, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 20.0° F  Light Snow Fog/Mist
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Live-blogging Madison Memorial vs. 'Tosa East
The WIAA Division 1 finals live from the Kohl Center
on

Madison Memorial narrowly escaped a late, 21-0 run from Oshkosh West on Friday night to claim its fourth spot in the finals out of the last five years. Wauwautosa East also held off a late charge from Brookfield Central to stay alive.

I've made no secret of the team I'll be pulling for, but I'll try to call your attention to some of the atmosphere surrounding what I think is one of the coolest athletic events on the sports calendar.

I'll be using this CoverItLive application, which seemed to work okay during Friday's game. The best way to follow along might be with the TV tuned to WKOW and the laptop tuned here.


7:04 -- The Division 3 final is in progress, with Iola-Scandinavia keeping pace with LaCrosse Aquinas. Feel free to leave any questions/comments as I get stuff set up for the D-1 final.

7:35 -- Both teams in the d-1 finals have players on the all-state team, with Memorial's Jeronne Maymon and Tosa East's Jake Barnett being named to the team today.

7:37 -- Did you miss last night's action? The Cap Times' Jim Polzin has an excellent wrap.

7:38 -- And the Journal-Sentinel's Art Kabelowsky summed up the 'Tosa East/Brookfield Central tussle.

7:41 -- Memorial coach Steve Collins just walked through the press room and chatted a bit, mentioning how much he aged during Friday night's escape. But he also agreed that 16-year olds are resilient and will easily put it all behind them tonight.

7:42 -- I'm notoriously bad at predicting the outcome of finals, but I'm not sure Tosa East can handle Memorial's speed. They are tough, however, and players like junior forward Eric Williams aren't afraid to push people around.

7:43 -- To use a sports cliche, Memorial's sophomores are juniors after last night's game, however, and learned a lot about their own toughness.

7:44 -- So in the next best thing to a Milwaukee/Madison battle for the championship, I think a slight edge goes to Memorial.

8:03 -- The Kohl Center is far from packed, but there's still an intensity in the air.

8:04 -- The biggest difference in tone between Badger games and a typical state basketball tournament game is girls screaming.

8:18 -- The Maymon brothers both have writing all over their shoes. Devonte's right shoe says "We come this far by faith"

8:20 -- In pre-game prep, Memorial remains behind after Tosa East returns to the locker room and runs their standard full-court drill.

8:21 -- The Cupertino boys on Tosa are pretty shaggy. Michael, who is listed generously in the program at 5-10 earned a "Bilbo Baggins!" chant from the Brookfield Central fans during last night's game.

8:22 -- About half the Tosa kids are wearing t-shirts over their uniforms with "Team Together" on the back.

8:25 -- Pre-game player announcements during the finals get teh lights-out treatment, I guess.

8:26 -- Highlights from Friday night are shown on the scoreboard with "Championship Saturday" on the light ring around the arena.

8:26 -- Soundtrack: Metallica's "Enter Sandman." Again... not in keeping with the hip-hop you hear in every gym during the season.

8:27 -- Still, it's a pretty cool effect.

8:28 -- When teams are introduced, there's always a player at the end of the chute formed by the reserves whose job it is to hand out a custom hand-slap for each player.

8:28 -- It's a series of fist bumps, slaps, hugs and soometimes chest bumps.

8:29 -- DJ Cupertino assumes the role for Tosa East, Ryan Murray for Memorial.

8:30 -- In bold opposition to the trendy "white outs" that fans of schools like Oshkosh West and Brookfield Central are trying, Memorial's fans are trying for a Black Out.

8:31 -- The white outs were 0-2 on Friday night, so they might have something

8:33 -- Tosa is playing a zone, but not sagging into the paint like Oshkosh West did. Memorial is working its full-court trap.

8:34 -- The strategy early against Tosa's zone is plenty of swing passes, a la Bo Ryan's offense, and penetration when a seam is found. So far, Memorial isn't gunning outside shots.

8:35 -- 4-2 Tosa with 5 left in the 1st.

8:35 -- Memorial is missing badly on its jumpers so far.

8:36 -- Maymon collects his first and-one of the night with a nifty move around fellow all-stater Jake Barnett.

8:37 -- Xavier Jones, with an unlikely basketball fram, and Fred Ringhand are first in off the bench for the Spartans. Jones saw no action Friday.

8:39 -- So far, Memorial's zone is finding some success in forcing turnovers.

8:39 -- But Tosa can execute well in the half court if they can beat the trap.

8:44 -- Jeronne Maymon ties it up at 9 apiece with a move in the paint. I'm unsure if there's a player in the state who can stop him from 9 feet and in.

8:46 -- Maymon gets another one inside, this time off a perfect lob from his brother, Devonte.

8:47 -- Eric Williams answers with a 3 for Tosa. 13-11 Tosa with 1.4 seconds in the 1st.

8:47 -- And then Jeronne Maymon ties it up at 13 with a shot at the buzzer. If this keeps up, we'll have a classic game.

8:51 -- With 6 and a half minutes left in the half, Jeronne Maymon has 13 of his team's 17 points.

8:52 -- DJ Cupertino enters the game for Tosa. He tweaked his ankle last night and is wearing a brace tonight.

8:56 -- A classic Memorial series just unfolded to make it 24-23 Tosa.

8:57 -- Blue shot a 3 and missed. Maymon had the rebound, but lost the ball, then promptly snatched it back and put it in for two, with the foul.

8:57 -- But DJ Cupertino nailed a 3 on the other end to make it 27-23 for Tosa.

8:57 -- The Red Raiders are getting some timely shooting.

8:58 -- Vander Blue is called for an over-the-back, his second. He'll sit now for the rest of the half, which is bad news for Memorial.

8:59 -- Memorial currently has Creamer, Ringhand, Ace Davis and both Maymons in the game. We'll see if that's a quick enough lineup to play the kind of defense they need to play to neutralize Tosa.

8:59 -- 31-25 Tosa after a pair of free throws.

9:00 -- Maymon with another floating runner inspires the Tosa fans to chant "One man team!"

9:01 -- Devonte Maymon has something to say about that, draining a three from the corner right in front of the Tosa students.

9:01 -- But DJ Cupertino is heating up from 3. Tosa leads 34-30 and Memorial will hold for the last shot of the half.

9:03 -- Maymon passes to Ringhand on hte baseline, he's fouled and sinks one of two to make it 34-31 at half, 'Tosa East in the lead.

9:06 -- Here's a shot of Jeronne Maymon holding the ball for the final shot of the half.

9:07 -- I'll be back in five minutes... please, enjoy a refreshment while I'm gone!

9:14 -- I just saw something that shook me to my very foundation.

9:15 -- Memorial's mascot looks a lot like Michigan State's Sparty.

9:15 -- It's cartoonishly muscular.

9:16 -- Anyway, this junior Sparty is sitting in the hallway under the Kohl Center stands with the mascot head off... and it turns out there's a girl in there.

9:16 -- Alarming.

9:17 -- Jeronne Maymon is at the line for Memorial now. He finished the half with 21 of Memorial's 31 points. He and Devonte each played the entire half.

9:20 -- Vander Blue picked up an early foul to give him 3 for the game and he sits, with Fred Ringhand taking his place in the lineup.

9:20 -- Down 3, they'll need Blue if they're going to make a run.

9:21 -- And just as I write that, unheralded senior Derek Nkemnji gets a steal and converts a nasty reverse layup, drawing the foul and making the free throw for what they call an old-fashioned three.

9:21 -- Three the hard way.

9:22 -- But Jake Barnett is on a mission and nails a three for Tosa.

9:23 -- Perhaps to preserve energy, a commodity having played three games in three days, Memorial is not playing full-court defense for the moment and Tosa takes advantage. 45-42 Tosa.

9:24 -- Nkemnji makes it 45-44 with a nice tip.

9:25 -- During a timeout, I'm noticing that the Kohl Center floor is in pretty bad shape. The seams don't quite fit together and the baseline is a jagged series of lines.

9:26 -- Blue is back.

9:26 -- Memorial is playing Nkemnji, Blue, both Maymons and Ringhand.

9:28 -- Memorial is patient on the offensive side, passing around the Tosa zone looking for an opening, but misses its opportunity... Tosa also fails to convert and Maymon misses a long shot at the buzzer.

9:29 -- At the end of three, it's 45-44 Tosa.

9:32 -- both teams trade tough buckets in the paint to start the fourth

9:34 -- Memorial ties it on two Blue free throws.

9:34 -- ... and Jeronne Maymon picks up his third. He's not coming out, I'm guessing, so he might need to watch his defense in the paint.

9:37 -- ... and Memorial goes up for the first time on a Devonte Maymon breakaway layup

9:38 -- They're going to play very patiently here in the final minutes

9:38 -- ... and Jeronne Maymon is going to be touching the ball a lot.

9:40 -- A nice shot by Vander Blue means Memorial is up by a full possession now. Maymon gets a huge block from behind on the other end to inspire the "Whose House?" "Our House!" chant from Memorial students.

9:42 -- So we're at just under 2:00, 52-49 Memorial

9:42 -- Tosa miss, Maymon rebound, and a foul. Memorial is still not in the bonus, so Tosa might start fouling a lot.

9:45 -- The sequences now are insane. Williams manages a steal for Tosa, but almost throws it away. Barnett gets an open three and just misses and in the scrum for the rebound, the ball goes out of bounds off Memorial. Tosa ball under its own basket.

9:45 -- A thought about Barnett here: This kid is always smiling. He chats amiably with Memorial players and the refs, even after a blown call. And he is silky smooth from beyond the arc.

9:49 -- Williams cans a huge 3 for Tosa to tie after Memorial plays stifling defense. So we have 13.5 seconds left, Memorial ball in their front court. 52-52.

9:49 -- Some might be aware that 52 is former Memorial star, and current Badger, Keaton Nankivil's number. Destiny?

9:50 -- Ringhand will in bound and Maymon will hold

9:50 -- He drives to the baseline with 5 seconds and puts up a shot that hits nothing.... overtime.

9:51 -- As Maymon walks back to the bench, he's wearing his trademark grin. As he said in last night's post-game: "It's only a game."

9:52 -- Overtime is four minutes. Vander Blue has four fouls for Memorial.

9:52 -- Maymon will jump against Barnett.... the two all-staters.

9:52 -- Tosa students respond with a "jump! jump! jump!" chant.

9:53 -- Devonte Maymon picks up a blocking foul, which isn't the worst development. It's his first and Williams misses the first shot.

9:53 -- Hits the second. 53-52 Memorial.

9:55 -- Now it's Tosa's turn to be patient as they pass around the perimeter before drawing a foul from Nkemnji, his thrid.

9:55 -- 55-52

9:56 -- Tosa knows where the ball is going and Barnett is all over Maymon inside.

9:58 -- Memorial fouls, and Tosa wants more out of their fans. DJ Cupertino hits the first and yells at his teammates to "finish this!"

9:58 -- 57-52... a two possession game for Memorial with 44.5 seconds left. They have been unable to do what they need to do right now: Get a quick bucket against Tosa's defense.

9:59 -- Maymon misses a layup on a drive and this one appears to be sealed for Tosa.

10:00 -- Barnett will go to the line with the opportunity to end it, but he misses the first.

10:00 -- Devonte Maymon misses a three and Barnett gets the rebound and is fouled. He get sanother shot now.

10:01 -- But misses.

10:01 -- Maymon is fouled on the other end, but he can't hit either. 57-52.

10:02 -- 57-53 and Maymon fouls Powell.

10:02 -- He sinks the first.... not the second.

10:03 -- Jeronne Maymon hits a three at the buzzer but its too late. Tosa wins 58-56 in an absolute classic.

10:03 -- I'll wrap this up for now and check in after the post-game remarks.

10:11 -- A guy in the media room succinctly analyzed Memorial's problem: You can't do it with just one guy.

10:11 -- Memorial may have leaned on Maymon too much, but nobody else really stepped in.

10:35 -- The coolest thing about high school basketball is that it's probably the highest profile example of athletes competing purely for the competition of it. A kid like Jeronne Maymon will be playing big-time college basketball without question and he wants to win state badly.

10:36 -- Tosa East's Jake Barnett is all smiles throughout the game and in the post-game he makes it clear that he loves playing and feels only jitters in a big game... nothing approaching pressure.

10:37 -- He jumped center in overtime against Maymon and told the media "I know I can't out-jump Jeronne Maymon. He's a monster."

10:37 -- So he tried to get to the ball first, just out of the ref's hand and tip it to a teammate.

10:37 -- He was successful, and it just might have set the tone for the overtime period.

10:38 -- It's the little things like that which make watching games like this so rewarding, knowing that the players are devoting their whole being to gaining the slightest edges over their opponents.

10:39 -- This Live Blog has now ended.

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