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Second Shootout breaks out
Monroe sophomore-to-be Caleb Ahrens scores with some left-handed touch Saturday during Monroes first game against Dodgeville at the second annual Summer Shootout at Monroe High School.
MONROE - Pat Murphy saw the evidence of Monroe hoops' prominence as he peered at the team roster for Saturday's second annual Summer Shootout spread over three Monroe venues.

The Cheesemakers' ball coach remembers when Monroe wasn't a perennial state tournament threat, and 45 teams signed up for Saturday's event in town despite southwestern Wisconsin being peppered with hoops tourneys.

"The thing our guys have to understand is that people want to beat Monroe," Murphy said. "You gotta want to get after people, because they're going to be coming after us."

The team enrollment for this year's tournament was nearly double last year's. Murphy sent his "A Team," along with its summer ball coach, Joe Monroe, up to a two-day Middleton tournament.

Meanwhile, with the exception of a Lena team that pulled out at the last minute, the massive field took aim at eight Cheesemakers who, just like those who went to Middleton, are putting the carefree days of summer to good use.

"This gives our guys a chance to see teams from across the state and everybody's trying to get better," Murphy said. "That's what the summer is about is developing skills and developing chemistry."

After nearly clawing back to catch Dodgeville from an double-digit deficit early in the second half, Monroe saw will-be-senior Brandon Wilson's potential game-tying three clang off back iron as the Dodgers evaded a rally and escaped with a 55-52 victory.

While the Cheesemakers also lost their second game to Milton, they navigated the loser's bracket, defeating Darlington and Black Hawk to take the consolation title.

Murphy was playing tourney director while recent Monroe grads Ryan Young (2006 grad) and Chase Sellnow ('08) had clipboards of their own as they coached the Shootout squad.

Point guard Michael Barrett looked smooth running the show for the Cheese, while lefty sophomore Caleb Ahrens showcased a repertoire of post moves along with fellow big Kevin Frint.

"Some of these guys may be asked to score a little bit that aren't used to being in that role," Murphy said. "It's good to challenge them and maybe get them out of their comfort zone a bit."

The tournament boasted three divisions and took place at the high school, the middle school and Northside Elementary. Freeport defeated Pewaukee in the varsity title game, Burlington won the junior varsity division and Black Hawk's girls team repeated as champions among six teams in the girls' ladder.

Former Cheesemaker great Brad Stangel, along with the Monroe coaching staff, did all they could to make sure the event went off as planned, but Mother Nature threw a wrench in the system when power was knocked out by a furious hail storm at 2 p.m.

"That was total chaos for a little bit, but we always try to overcome adversity," Murphy said with a laugh.

Murphy zipped up to Middleton Sunday to see his Cheememakers lose to Badger North rival Reedsburg at the buzzer. Saturday held mixed results as Monroe beat Madison East by six, lost to Waupun by six but defeated then-undefeated Wisconsin Rapids by 10.

Murphy says there's a simple reason why the Cheese spreads itself so thin on a big hoops weekend.

"If you're not getting better, you're getting worse," Murphy said.