Girls basketball team gets back on track

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Elizabeth Norregaard (left) and Middleton's girls basketball team routed Madison East last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

They desperately needed a game like this.

One to help bury a forgettable two-week stretch. One to re-establish confidence throughout the team. And one to stay in the hunt for a Big Eight Conference title.

Middleton’s girls basketball got all of those — and more — during an impressive 85-43 dismantling of host Madison East last Saturday.

The Cardinals made a school record 20 three-pointers, highlighted by five from senior guard Elizabeth Norregaard and four from senior forward Jenna Blair.

“It’d be nice to shoot it like that every night,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “It was nice to come out and do that. Shooting makes everything look better. And we finally played with some intensity again and just got after it.”

Middleton snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 11-3 overall and 9-2 in the Big Eight Conference. With league-leading Janesville Craig (13-2, 10-1) also falling to Verona (12-2, 9-2) last Saturday, the Cougars now hold a one-game lead over both the Cardinals and the Wildcats.

“We had a couple of tough practices because we knew we had to get back on track,” Norregaard said. We haven’t been playing like we want to play. So this was good.”

It sure was.

The Cardinals’ ball movement was outstanding, they got several good looks in transition and the results were sublime. Middleton finished with twice as many three-pointers (20) as two-pointers (10).

“We were getting good inside-out looks, and we just ran down the floor hard, beat them down and got open threes,” Kind said. “And that’s a good shot for us.

“If we can get that, just get it up the floor and get that three-point shot that’s open on the wing, that’s a good one because we can rebound it. And when we got good ball reversal and got it inside and kicked it out to the opposite wing, we got a lot of looks on that.”

In addition to big shooting nights by Norregaard and Blair, junior guard Katherine Hibner and sophomore guard Bria Lemirande both made three three-pointers.

Senior guards Emily Bergum and Katie Fermanich, junior guard Amanda Tonnesen, and sophomore guard Alyssa Lemirande and Alexis Thomas all knocked down three-pointers, as well.

Norregaard led the Cardinals with 15 points, while Blair added 12 and Hibner scored 11.

“I’ve always known we have a good shooting team,” Norregaard said. “But 20 threes, that’s awesome. It felt really good, too, like when everyone made a three it was a lot of fun.”

The Cardinals were red-hot from start to finish.

Middleton used an 11-0 run midway through the first quarter to grab an 11-4 lead. Norregaard and Bergum had three-pointers during that burst, then Bria Lemirande drilled a three-ball late in the period to give the Cardinals a 14-6 lead heading to the second quarter.

Middleton shot 5-of-9 from three-point range (55.6%) in the second quarter. The Cardinals were also 8-of-14 overall (57.1%) in the period and pushed their lead to 36-22 by halftime.

The Cardinals used a 10-1 run midway through the second quarter to grab a 26-13 lead. Middleton’s advantage remained in double digits the rest of the night.

“We’ve been playing really intensely in practice,” Norregaard said. “I feel like we got back on track in practice.”

East was still within 42-30, though, with 5 minutes left in the third quarter when Middleton embarked on a 16-0 run that blew the game open. The Cardinals scored on six of seven possessions, while the Purgolders had five turnovers and went 3:30 without scoring.

Norregaard started the run with a three-pointer, then Bria Lemirande drained a three-ball to make it 48-30. Grace Douglas followed with a basket, Thomas drilled a pair of free throws and freshman post Halle White scored to make it 54-30.

Middleton then capped the burst with a four-point possession. Abbey Webber made 1-of-2 free throws, rebounded her own missed foul shot, then Norregaard drained a three-pointer to make it 58-30.

The Cardinals drilled 6-of-9 three-pointers in the third quarter (66.7%) and built a 63-34 lead heading to the fourth. Middleton then hit six more three-pointers in the fourth quarter.

“Really a good win,” Kind said. “We needed it.”

Kind’s recent decision to substitute more liberally appears to be paying dividends, as well. Kind has been rotating five in and five out every minute or two.

The upside is the Cardinals play with greater energy in their shorter stints, and theoretically, should be the fresher team down the stretch thanks to the additional rest. The downside is it can be harder to get in a consistent rhythm when you’re coming out of the game more frequently.

“At first it was kind of annoying, because you get in a rhythm, then you have to go sit down,” Norregaard said. “But we do know we can play really hard and with a lot of intensity while we’re in there.”

For the time being, Kind plans to stick with the hockey-like substitution format.

“I think we have the depth to do it,” Kind said. “We’re still a little weak defensively at some spots. We still have to work on that so we don’t give up something easy.

“But we told them, ‘You have no reason not to play your absolute hardest.’ And at the same time, when you come out, you have no reason to get mentally out of the game because you know you’re going right back in. So they have to develop that mindset that they’re playing that hard and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

• On deck: Middleton was at Kenosha St. Joseph’s Tuesday night. That came had been scheduled for Dec. 31, but was postponed when several of the Cardinals came down with food poisoning.

Middleton is then at Madison La Follette Friday at 7:30 p.m. and at Waunakee Monday at 7:15 p.m.

 

Jan. 24

Middleton 85, Madison East 43

Middleton ………………. 14 22 27 22 — 85

Madison East …………… 6  16 12  9 — 43

MIDDLETON — Norregaard 15, A. Lemirande 5, Hibner 11, Douglas 7, Webber 2, Fermanich 5, Thomas 5, Blair 12, Tonnesen 3, Bergum 3, Jordee 2, B. Lemirande 9, Ballweg 2, White 4. Totals 30 5-15 85.

MADISON EAST — White 9, Larson 6, Howard 2, Kruser 2, Filip 7, Booker 4, Hayes 2, Johnson-Walls 7, Robinson 4. Totals 17 7-8 43.

3-point goals — M 20 (Norregaard 5, Blair 4, Hibner 3, Bria Lemirande 3, Alyssa Lemirande 1, Fermanich 1, Thomas 1, Tonnesen 1, Bergum 1), ME 2 (Filip 1, Johnson-Walls 1). Total fouls — Mi 12, ME 15.

 

 

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