Girls basketball team shows who's boss

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Bria Lemirande and Middleton’s girls basketball team have early control of the Big Eight Conference race./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Bria Lemirande was tired. Alexis Thomas was drained.

But the most fatigued person at Middleton High School Tuesday night just might have been the home scorekeeper.

Middleton’s high-powered, run-and-gun girls basketball team survived a track meet against upstart Sun Prairie. Middleton put five players in double figures and toppled Sun Prairie, 99-87, in an early-season Big Eight Conference showdown.

Middleton, the state’s No. 1 team in the latest poll, improved to 6-0 and 5-0 in the conference. Sun Prairie fell to 5-2, 4-1.

“That was a lot of fun,” said Middleton junior standout guard Bria Lemirande. “It’s awesome. I love the fast paced games. I like pushing the ball. That’s kind of our team’s thing, so those kind of games always work in our favor.”

Lemirande led Middleton with 20 points and eight rebounds, while junior guard Alexis Thomas also scored 20 points and had three steals. Junior guard Alyssa Lemirande added 17 points, five rebounds and two steals, sophomore guard Claire Staples had 14 points, and junior forward Carlee Lemirande had 14 points, six rebounds and three steals.

The 99 points tied the most ever scored by a Middleton team during Jeff Kind’s 24 seasons as the Cardinals’ head coach. And the 186 points scored between the two teams are believed to be the most during the Kind-era.

“That was fun,” Thomas said. “That was our kind of game.”

Middleton shot a whopping 39-of-82 from the field (47.6%) and had the tempo much to its liking throughout. Sun Prairie sophomore guard Jayda Jansen was sensational with 31 points, while sophomore wing Carly Coulthart added 24.

But Middleton’s offensive prowess was too much for a gritty, gutty Sun Prairie team to overcome.

“Sun Prairie’s a really good team. They’ve got a lot of weapons and they're going to win a lot of games,” Kind said. “They forced us into some bad decisions and we lost our composure at times. But we were able to play through some of that and we did some nice things on offense.”

Middleton certainly did, attacking the rim with regularity, turning pressure defense into offense, and using its terrific dribble penetration game to set up its bevy of outside shooters.

Middleton led, 14-12, six minutes into the game when it went on a 14-2 run to take control. Five different Middleton players scored in the burst, led by Alyssa Lemirande’s five points.

Middleton scored on six of 10 possessions in the run, while Sun Prairie managed just one basket in 11 possessions. The surge lasted just 3:45, and when it was over, Middleton had raced to a 28-14 lead.

“When we get a lot of players involved, we’re a lot harder to defend,” Thomas said. “And we had a lot of people contribute (Tuesday).”

Middleton’s lead fluctuated between 10 and 14 points the rest of the half. And thanks to four straight points from Bria Lemirande to end the half, Middleton’s lead at the break was 49-35.

Middleton pushed its advantage to as many as 18 early in the second half. Inexplicably, though, Middleton turned the ball over on three straight possessions — and six of eight overall — allowing Sun Prairie to close within 64-57 with 10:40 left in the game.

“We had some ridiculous turnovers in there,” Kind said. “We’ve had turnovers, but some of those were just absolutely careless.

“We just turned and didn't even look where we were throwing the ball. We had a couple of over-and-backs, we threw some out of bounds. It was crazy.”

But Middleton never stayed down for long.

First, Middleton answered with an 11-1 burst over a stretch of 1:50 and reclaimed a 75-58 lead. Thomas had five points in that run and Bria Lemirande added four.

Sun Prairie battled back, though, and scored on a remarkable 12 out of 17 possessions. That allowed Sun Prairie to pull within 88-83 with just 2:28 remaining.

“Our defense was not good enough,” Thomas said. “That’s something we really need to work on.”

Middleton’s offense was crisp, though, when it needed to be.

With Middleton clinging to a 90-85 lead in the final two minutes, it embarked on a game-clinching 7-0 run. Thomas started the fun with a basket, then Bria Lemirande drained a free throw. Carlee Lemirande then scored four straight points to end Sun Prairie’s upset bid.

“In the second half, we were expecting them to slow down a little bit because that’s what normally happens,” Bria Lemirande said. “But they stuck with us the whole time. They were able to keep up with our pace, which is something not a lot of teams can do.”

The thrill-a-minute win now puts Middleton in early control of the conference race.

“I’m happy for the most part,” Kind said. “It’s early and we’ve got a lot of things to learn. And every game we’re going to find some things out. Today, it was about making sure we keep our composure and just continuing to get better.”

• Middleton 84, Madison La Follette 38 — The Cardinals routed the host Lancers last Thursday.

Bria Lemirande led Middleton with 19 points, while Thomas added 14 and senior guard Katherine Hibner had 12.

• Look who’s No. 1: Middleton’s players were excited about jumping to No. 1 in the state. But the Cardinals also realized it means little at this time of the year.

“That’s really exciting for us,” Bria Lemirande said. “But at the same time there’s a target on our backs. We just need to stay humble and can’t think too much about that.”

Thomas agreed.

“It actually means a lot, but we can’t let that get to our heads,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot of time still ahead of us and we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We just need to keep going at it and keep doing our best and get better every day.”

• On deck: Middleton hosts Madison Memorial Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Cardinals are then off until they meet Germantown on Dec. 28 at the Franklin Tournament.


Middleton .............................. 33 51 — 84

Madison La Follette .............. 11 27 — 38

MIDDLETON — Anderson 0-0 6, Ballweg 1-2 1, Hibner 0-0 12, A. Lemirande 2 0-0 7, B. Lemirande 5 0-0 19, C. Lemirande 3 0-0 9, McDonald 2 0-0 4, Schafer 1 2-2 4, Shea 0-0 3, Staples 2-2 5, Thomas 4 0-0 14. Totals 32 5-10 84.

MADISON LA FOLLETTE — Barber-Smith 1 0-0 2, Corcoran 1 0-0 5, Eder 4 0-0 8, Johnson 3 1-4 7, Lamb 2 0-0 7, Oruruo 2 0-0 4, Stephens 2 0-0 4, Turner 1-2 1. Totals 17 2-6 38.

3-point goals — MID 15 (Anderson 2, Hibner 4, Lemirande 1, Lemirande 3, Lemirande 1, Shea 1, Staples 1, Thomas 2), ML 2 (Corcoran 1, Lamb 1). Total fouls—MID 12, ML 10.


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