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Madison Memorial boys basketball celebrates return to court with first win in nearly 2 years
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Madison Memorial boys basketball celebrates return to court with first win in nearly 2 years

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collins photo 11-19 (copy)

Madison Memorial coach Steve Collins is coaching the boys basketball team for the 24th year. Memorial won its season opener Tuesday.

The Madison Memorial boys basketball team had a 627-day stretch between games.

So even though the Spartans’ 55-48 win against Adams-Friendship on Tuesday had more turnovers than highlight plays, the smiles still radiated on Memorial’s home court.

Memorial returned to action for the first time since March 2019 due to the fact that Madison Metropolitan School District officials didn’t allow winter sports competition last season in Dane County amid health concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every single Spartans player on the 13-member roster is competing on the varsity level for the first time.

“I’m literally having to teach them how to be varsity basketball players and here’s what they need to do,” said Memorial coach Steve Collins, who’s overseen the program for 24 years.

“They’re just happy to be on the floor and you can see it. It was a good first game. I’ll take it.”

Spartans senior Cole Hendrickson said he was thrilled to be on the court.

“It was amazing and really nice to get out there,” said Hendrickson, who finished with three points.

“It’s been two years and we’re not going to use it as an excuse for a sloppy game, but we’ll go to practice and get better.”

Sophomore Sam Mickelson, a 6-foot-7 forward, scored 10 of his team-high 15 points in the second half for Memorial. He added a team-high six rebounds. Senior Aidan Wischhoff added 11 points and sophomore Braylen Blue had 10.

Blue transferred from Sun Prairie to Memorial after his freshman year. The 6-4 guard was excited to compete in his first-ever varsity matchup.

“It’s just good to be with the guys and coach Collins,” said Blue, who has already received a handful of offers from NCAA Division I teams.

Blue is a confident 3-point shooter and said he “likes creating for my teammates and being a leader on the court.”

Collins said the Spartans struggled with the Green Devils’ 1-3-1 zone, but were eventually able to put up some good shots.

“They’re all trying to figure out their spots,” Collins said. “For the first time playing varsity basketball, I thought they showed a lot of composure.”

Senior Carson Klaus scored a game-high 18 points for Adams-Friendship, a Division 3 team which competes in the South Central Conference.

Junior guard Aidan Livingston scored eight straight points to open the second half and pull the Green Devils within eight points at 35-27. They got within five points twice with less than 2 minutes, 17 seconds left in the game.

The Green Devils posted a 13-12 record last season and moved up to Division 2 in the playoffs. They lost to Wisconsin Dells in a regional final in February.

Green Devils coach Kevin Bork said he was happy with his team’s performance. Two starters, Zander Klaus and Keyvon Holloway, are sidelined with injuries.

“I think we played pretty well considering that we’re shorthanded,” Bork said.

He thinks that Memorial will be a formidable opponent once they get a few more games out of the way.

“Mickelson looks good, and Blue shoots the ball well,” Bork said. “We don’t see that physicality as much at our level.”

Collins couldn’t wait to get back to his house to take another look at the game for the first time in nearly two years.

“I can’t wait to watch the film and go through it with the boys,” he said. “I’m a teacher. They know what they did wrong.”

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