Lemirande steals the show

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Rob Reischel
Middleton’s Bria Lemirande (was named MVP of the Christine Rathke Memorial Tournament last week./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

FRANKLIN — Bria Lemirande wasn’t familiar with the name Christine Rathke before last Thursday. Now, the two will be forever connected — and that’s a good thing for Lemirande.

Rathke, a former standout at Franklin High School and Southeast Missouri State, was killed by a drunk driver in 2003. Since 2008, the folks at Franklin have held a holiday basketball tournament in Rathke’s honor.

After each tournament concludes, the finest player is given the Christine Rathke Award. On Thursday, that award went to Lemirande, a senior point guard at Middleton High School.

In the championship game of the three-day tournament, Lemirande put on a show. Lemirande scored 30 points — the second-highest total of her sensational Middleton career — and lifted the Cardinals to a 78-71 overtime win over upstart Oshkosh Lourdes.

Middleton, which won the tournament for the first time since the inaugural event in 2008, improved to 9-0. And Lemirande left with the MVP award that’s named after Rathke.

“It means a lot, really,” Lemirande said of capturing tournament MVP honors. “I didn’t know the whole story (about Rathke), so that makes it even more special.”

Lemirande’s special gifts were on full display in the championship game. Lemirande shot a blistering 12-of-21 from the field (57.1%), made all three of her free throws, drilled 3 three-pointers and added eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Middleton senior guard Alyssa Lemirande added 14 points and made 4-of-6 free throws in overtime, while senior wing Alexis Thomas had 14 points. Lourdes (8-1) got 21 points from Drake University recruit Katie Van Scyoc and 19 from sophomore guard Alexis Rolph.

Still, this game — and really the entire tournament — will be remembered for Bria Lemirande’s dominance.

“When the game was on the line, she just took over,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said of Bria Lemirande. “She’s just great to coach.

“She understands the game more and more every year. She’s a great leader and she just keeps getting better.”

The two teams produced the first overtime championship game in the tournament’s nine-year history.

Middleton raced to a shocking 24-6 lead just 9 ½ minutes into the game. Lourdes answered with a stunning 40-19 run and grabbed a 46-43 lead.

From there, it was a see-saw affair.

Over the final 6:40, there were four ties and two lead changes and the teams headed to overtime deadlocked, 69-69.

Bria Lemirande scored just 18 seconds into overtime to give Middleton a 71-69 lead it would never relinquish. Thomas drilled a three-pointer one possession later and Alyssa Lemirande came up big at the line down the stretch.

Lourdes, on the other hand, missed all four of its field goals in overtime and shot just 2-of-6 from the line.

“This is awesome,” Alyssa Lemirande said of winning the tournament. “We’ve never done very well here, but our focus was really good and we were all prepared. It was a great tournament.”

Middleton’s start would certainly qualify as great.

The Cardinals got baskets from all three of the Lemirande triplets — Bria, Alyssa and Carlee — and raced to a 7-0 lead just 2:04 into the game.

After a Lourdes basket, Middleton ran off eight unanswered points to grab a 15-2 lead. Claire Staples drilled a three-pointer to start that burst, then Alyssa Lemirande had a three-point play and Charlotte Dunn drilled a pair of free throws.

By the midway point of the first half, Middleton’s lead had grown to 24-6. The Cardinals’ pressure was simply too much for the Knights, as Middleton forced 14 turnovers on Lourdes’ first 22 possessions.

“We played really well early,” Kind said. “But then we started to get careless and they got the momentum.”


Lourdes answered with a 12-0 run of its own and pulled within 24-18.

At halftime, the Cardinals held a 37-32 lead. But Middleton felt its edge should have been even greater after it forced 20 Lourdes turnovers and held a 32-18 advantage in field goal attempts.

“We got a lot of easy points early with our press,” Bria Lemirande said. “But they’re a great team and we kind of thought they’d make a run at us.”

The Knights kept charging, opening the second half on a 14-6 burst and taking a 46-43 lead. Lourdes’ lead was still 55-51 with 7:55 left when Bria Lemirande took the game over.

First, Bria Lemirande attacked the rim, made a nifty scoop shot, was fouled and converted the three-point play. Bria Lemirande then had a steal and lay-up to give Middleton a 56-55 lead with 7:20 left.

After a Lourdes basket, Bria Lemirande had four points during a 6-0 run that put Middleton back in control, 62-57, with 6:15 remaining. In a matter of just 1:21, Bria Lemirande scored nine points and helped the Cardinals gain some separation.

“Every time we needed a big basket or a big play, Bria came up with one,” Alyssa Lemirande said of her sister. “That was huge.”

Lourdes refused to go away, though, pulling even at 62-62 with 4:00 left. The teams were still knotted at 69 and Middleton held for the final shot, but Alyssa Lemirande missed from point blank range and the teams headed to overtime.

There, Middleton’s defense, precision on offense, and free throw shooting allowed it to win this prestigious tournament.

“This is really big for us,” Bria Lemirande said. “It seems like we couldn’t do very good down here for a long time. So we needed something like this.”

And someone like Bria Lemirande.

• Middleton 75, Kettle Moraine Lutheran 59 — The Cardinals rolled in the tournament semifinals last Wednesday.

Bria Lemirande led a balanced attack with 12 points, while Dunn added 10. Carlee Lemirande and Thomas both scored nine points, while Halee White and Alyssa Lemirande each added eight.

Middleton’s lead was just 44-37 at halftime, then it gradually pulled away in the second half.

• On deck: Middleton is at Madison La Follette Thursday at 7:30 p.m., then travels to Beloit Memorial Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The Cardinals then host Madison East Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m.


Dec. 29

Middleton 78, Oshkosh Lourdes 71 (OT)

Middleton ……………………. 37 32 9 — 78

Oshkosh Lourdes ……………. 32 37 2 — 71

MIDDLETON — A.Lemirande 4 5-8 14, Anderson 1 0-0 3, B.Lemirande 12 3-3 30, Bursac 0-2 2, C.Lemirande 2 0-0 5, Flottmeyer 1 0-0 2, Staples 2 0-2 6, Thomas 6 0-0 14, White 2-2 2. Totals 28 12-19 78.

OSHKOSH LOURDES — Barenz 1 0-0 2, DeGroot 5 3-4 16, Godfroy 1 1-2 3, Rolph 7 4-7 19, Scyoc 4 13-16 21, Schwochert 1 4-9 6, Russo 2 0-0 4. Totals 21 25-40 71.

3-point goals — MID 10 (A.Lemirande 1, Anderson 1, B.Lemirande 3, C.Lemirande 1, Staples 2, Thomas 2), OL 4 (DeGroot 3, Rolph 1). Total fouls — MID 20, OL 17.


Dec. 28

Middleton 77, Kettle Moraine Lutheran 59

Kettle Moraine Luth. ……………… 37 22 — 59

Middleton …………………………….. 44 33 - 77

KETTLE MORAINE LUTHERAN — Sina 3 1-3 7, Bock 2 0-0 6, Vandermus 2 1-2 5, Leikam 1 3-4 5, Porth 2 2-3 6, Washburn 1 1-2 3, Stern 2 0-0 5, J.Soderbeck 3 0-0 6, L.Soderbeck 5 0-4 10, Zeamer 1 0-0 2, Miller 2 0-0 4. Totals 24 8-18 59.

MIDDLETON — Anderson 1 0-0 3, Bursac 2-2 2, Flottmeyer 2-2 2, Schauer 1-2 1, Staples 3 0-0 8, Thomas 4 0-1 9, White 4 0-0 8, A.Lemirande 4 0-0 8, H.Dunn 2 0-0 5, C.Dunn 4 2-4 10, B.Lemirande 4 3-5 12, C.Lemirande 3 1-2 9. Totals 29 11-18 77.

3-point goals — MID 8 (Anderson 1, Staples 2, Thomas 1, H.Dunn 1, B.Lemirande 1, C.Lemirande 2), 3 (Bock 2, Stern 1). Total fouls — MID 17, KML 17.





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