The Madison Mavericks have punched their ticket to the Final Four in Orlando, Florida.
The rollercoaster ride of a season that saw lots of adversity has left the Mavericks in position to bring a championship home to Madison, Wisconsin.
Making it this far is truly a remarkable feat — with all things considered.
There was no Mavericks team a year ago. The franchise was put together amid a global pandemic that prompted many challenges along the way.
Team owner and player of the Mavericks, Roy Boone said making it this far in such a short amount of time means everything to him.
“These guys are not just my teammates, they are my family,” Boone said.
Limited time together and the lack of gym space made for a hectic off-season, but it also proved to be a testimony of this team’s resiliency.
The self-discipline of players to carry out home workouts and continue to work on their game on their own time is evident by their standing in the final four.
“This team is fun to be around,” head coach Curtrel Robinson said. “Very fortunate to have for my first experience such a talented and committed group.”
Most teams struggle to win games in their first season as a franchise, but the Mavericks have their eyes set on something bigger. Not just on winning games, but winning championships for the city.
The Mavericks playoff hopes were in jeopardy after a mid-season tumble. After starting the season with an impressive 7-3 record while holding down the second-place spot in the North, the last weekend of June was a nightmare for the Mavs.
In the last week of June, the Mavericks were scheduled for a double header on back-to-back days. The team traveled up to Minneapolis with just six players for the first of two matchups.
Big man and leading scorer for the Mavericks, Dave Turner, left the game and did not return after suffering an ankle injury.
The game was well within reach all the way until the end, despite finishing the game with just five players. But the Mavericks did not have enough firepower to match the Reign.
Chris Costello and Shareef Smith both had north of 30-points in the game but the Mavs fell to the Reign, 129-121.
The very next day, the Mavericks were back on their home floor with a full squad, sans Turner. The game was a battle all the way until the final buzzer, but the Mavericks team walked away disgruntled for the second time that weekend after suffering a 112-109 loss to the CedarValley CourtKings.
“That was a tough stretch for us. A lot was going on.” Robinson said. “Truly we felt most of our losses and in particular that stretch was self-inflicted.”
Badgers in Tokyo: Maddie Wanamaker aims to make a splash in Olympic rowing debutGet loud and proud, Badgers, because 16 University of Wisconsin athletes across eight different events will be competing in the Read…
The back-to-back losses dropped the Mavericks from second to fifth place in the OBA North with a 7-5 record.
The biggest loss, though, was their leading scorer Turner being out for a month and unable to return until playoffs.
“Losing David was tough. But we are a deep talented team and other guys stepped up,” Robinson said.
There was no doubt in the minds of the coaches and players that the team would bounce back, but the fact of the matter was still that they needed to win three of their remaining four games to earn a spot in the playoffs.
In their first weekend back, the Mavericks cruised past the CEO Kings and then picked up an impressive victory the next day over the No. 9 ranked team in the country, the Chicago Knights.
The Mavericks then faltered on the road against the top-team in the North — the NLG Titans — in a close overtime game. But the loss did not matter as the Mavs earned a win against St. Paul the next day, finished with a 10-6 record and solidified their spot in the playoffs as the third seed.
Once the playoffs began, Madison cashed in on their opportunity.
They were also able to welcome back their leading scorer after Turner spent a month watching from the sidelines.
“I was definitely nervous at first only because I hadn’t been with the guys for a while,” Turner said. “But I’m glad the coaches and the team trusted me and allowed me to get back into the flow of things quickly and I’m glad I could deliver for them.”
Deliver he did. Turner led the Mavericks in scoring during the Divisional Semifinal matchup against the CourtKings. He finished the game with 15 points, six rebounds, three blocks and a steal.
Turner kept his foot on the gas during the Divisional Championship game against the NLG Titans with another balanced performance on both ends. The Mavs’ big man had 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
The Mavericks were 0-4 combined against the CourtKings and the Titans during the regular season. Four of their six losses were at the hands of these teams.
Madison was able to turn the tides in the playoffs and avenge their losses from the regular season, winning games when it mattered most. Turner led the charge, but it was the balanced contributions from the entire team that earned the Mavericks a spot in the Final Four.
“Another chance to win a Chip,” Turner said.
Turner lost in Nationals twice during his college days but is determined the avoid the same result.
Robinson will have his team ready to play Saturday at 2 p.m. for the National Semifinal matchup against Quad City United, the champion of the Central Division. Games will be streamed on the OBA League’s website and Facebook page.
“[We’re] looking forward to representing our North Division and the city of Madison,” Robinson said.