Lemirande, Thomas honored

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton junior guard Bria Lemirande was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference./File photo

Middleton junior guard Bria Lemirande was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference, while junior guard Alexia Thomas was named second-team all-league.

The Cardinals tied for first place in the league at 17-1 with eventual WIAA Division 1 state champion Verona.

Lemirande led the Cardinals in scoring (14.7)  highlighted by a 37-point outing at Janesville Craig. Lemirande also led Middleton in assists (4.7), steals (2.8), and rebounds (6.8). Lemirande was also named honorable-mention all-state.

“Bria was very deserving of her first team selection,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “She was one of the dominant players in the league and there was a great deal of individual talent spread throughout the league this year. 

“She should be in the mix for player of the year in the conference next year and will likely become the school’s second leading scorer all-time.” 

Thomas was second on the team in scoring (14.1), second in steals (2.4) and grabbed 3.0 rebounds per game.

“Alexis had a great year, almost tripling her scoring from the previous year,” Kind said. “She hit a couple game-winning three-point shots and was very consistent throughout the year.”

Middleton enjoyed an extremely successful and somewhat surprising season.

The Cardinals lost four starters from their 2015 state semifinal team, but didn’t miss a beat. Despite lacking ideal size, Middleton ran by most teams with a breakneck style of play.

Middleton opened the year 7-0 and climbed to No. 1 in the state polls. The Cardinals later had winning streaks of nine games and five games, and finished the year 21-4 overall.

Middleton’s four losses came against teams with a combined record of 79-24 (.769). And the Cardinals eventually reached the sectional semifinals, before losing to Janesville Craig.

“This season was surprisingly successful in some respects,” Kind said. “It was gratifying in terms of many of the accomplishments of the team, frustrating on some levels, but it also left an overriding sense of hope and expectations for next year. 

“We had solid experience in most of our perimeter positions, but were very inexperienced in the post. Fortunately, we got off to a fast start offensively and gained some confidence early in the season. 

“As the season progressed, teams adapted and we soon found ourselves facing a steady diet of zones and teams working hard to neutralize our press. We had to work extremely hard at learning to attack those zones and to defend in the half court.”

Middleton will have a bevy of returnees next season, will likely be the Big Eight’s favorite, and will be among the frontrunners to win a state title.

Led by Lemirande and Thomas, Middleton will welcome back its top six scorers from this season. The Cardinals will also bring back more than 90% of their total scoring.

Junior guard Alyssa Lemirande (10.0 ppg) is a terrific offensive player and scrappy defender. Sophomore forward Halle White (10.1) is Middleton’s top inside player who should be poised for a big season after injuries limited her to nine games this year.

Junior forward Carlee Lemirande (8.0) is one of the top shooters in the conference. And sophomore forward Claire Staples (7.8) flashed the ability to become one of Middleton’s top all-around players over the next two seasons.

In addition, freshman post Hannah Flottmeyer (5.0) improved steadily and could be poised for big things down the road.

“I think they will be extremely hungry to improve on this year’s finish and know that they have to make strides over the summer to do that,” Kind said of his team. “We have to improve our overall strength to compete with bigger teams and we need to be able to take away our opponents’ offensive strengths better. We will add some good players from our lower levels next year and I expect the team to be extremely competitive.”

Middleton averaged 76.0 points per game this year, by far the highest total in school history. The Cardinals will need to improve their defense and rebounding, though, if they hope to win the first state title in school history.

“Offensively, we could be extremely explosive at times,” Kind said. “Defensively, we had a tough time on the boards against some of the bigger and more aggressive rebounding teams and keeping teams with big post players and great penetrators out of the lane. That, and occasional cold shooting, proved to be our undoing in our losses. 

“Overall, though, it was a very good season. With a starting lineup of four juniors and either a freshman or sophomore returning … the outlook is promising.”

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