Girls basketball team in a rut

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Alyssa Lemirande's 22 points weren't enough to lift Middleton past Sun Prairie last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

SUN PRAIRIE — Alyssa Lemirande tried not to sound worried. But Middleton’s standout senior guard also couldn’t lie.

Lemirande and Middleton’s girls basketball team began the year 13-0 and outscored their foes by an average 26.1 points in those games. Suddenly, though, the Cardinals’ ship has sprung leaks and Middleton has dropped two of three games.

The latest setback came last Saturday, when host Sun Prairie toppled Middleton, 83-77. Sun Prairie built an 18-point second half lead, then held off a late Middleton rally.

Afterwards, Lemirande was asked if she was worried.

“A little bit, but not too much,” she said. “We just had a good talk and I feel like we’re all on the same page about getting better and putting in more effort. So I feel like if we can do that, I’m not too worried.”

Sun Prairie junior guard Jayda Jansen led all scorers with 25 points. Senior post Alyssa Blair added 19 points and sophomore wing Alexis Baker had 16.

Alyssa Lemirande led Middleton with 22 points, while senior guard Bria Lemirande had 14 points, 12 rebounds and four steals.

The Big Eight Conference race, which Middleton controlled just two weeks ago, is now up for grabs.

Middleton is 14-2 overall and 11-2 in the league and leads both Verona (11-5, 10-2) and Sun Prairie (13-3, 10-2) by one-half game. Madison East (12-4, 10-3) is in the title hunt, as well.

“We’ve just got to be tougher. It’s that simple,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “I think we’ll come back from this.”

Middleton couldn't come back after digging itself a gigantic hole against Sun Prairie.

Middleton held a 17-13 lead seven minutes into the game. But Sun Prairie smacked Middleton with a 25-5 run and surged to a 38-22 lead with 1:48 left in the half.

Sun Prairie scored on 13 of 23 possessions in that stretch. Middleton, on the other hand, shot just 1-of-12 in that time (8.3%) and had nine turnovers.

“We had too many turnovers, missed shots and played too soft,” Kind said. “They wanted it more than we did and it was pretty evident. It felt like we were stuck at 22 for about an hour.”

Alyssa Lemirande agreed.

“I feel like we were just struggling to get the ball to the basket and finishing,” Alyssa Lemirande said. “Then every time they scored, it (the deficit) got big and kept getting bigger. We just needed something to go right, and once it did we kind of got it going. It just took a little while.”

Middleton scored the final six points of the first half — highlighted by a Bria Lemirande three-pointer at the horn — and the first bucket of the second half to close within 38-30.

But a 9-0 Sun Prairie run midway through the second half gave the home team its biggest lead of the night at 56-38.

“We didn’t play tough,” Kind said. “When we took the ball to the basket, we tried to avoid contact instead of drawing contact. And the officials were calling everything, so, geez.”

Middleton turned up the pressure and got its transition game cranked up to make things interesting late.

Senior guard Katrina Anderson had a pair of baskets during a 6-0 run that pulled Middleton within 66-57 with 5:45 left. And two free throws by junior forward Claire Staples and a Bria Lemirande lay-up helped Middleton claw within 78-71 with 45 seconds left.

But Sun Prairie made 5-of-6 free throws in the final 38.5 seconds. And the closest Middleton could get was the final score.

“We battled and made it interesting down the stretch,” Kind said. “But we just can’t dig ourselves a big hole like that. They’re not going to give up, but even then, we have to make plays.”

Sun Prairie shot a sizzling 28-of-56 from the field (50.0%) as Middleton’s defense had too many chinks. Middleton, a senior dominant and guard heavy team, also had an uncharacteristic 26 turnovers.

“They’ve improved a lot and they played a lot better defense,” Alyssa Lemirande said of Sun Prairie. “But we didn’t play our best either. We need to care a little more and work harder.”

While Kind was far from happy leaving Sun Prairie Saturday night, he was optimistic better days were still on the horizon.

“We had some opportunities to make plays that would have gotten us even closer and we couldn’t finish,” Kind said. “But it will toughen us in the long run. I think we’ll be OK.”

• Middleton 73, Janesville Craig 44 — The Cardinals routed the visiting Cougars last Friday.

Middleton junior forward Tavi Tanin led all scorers with 18 points, while junior post Halle White added 10.

• From the infirmary: Middleton is playing without sophomore guard Charlotte Dunn and sophomore forward Hannah Flottmeyer.

Dunn has a stress fracture in her foot and is expected to miss at least two more weeks. Flottmeyer has a shoulder injury and the timetable for her return is more uncertain.

“It’s certainly hurt our depth,” Kind said of playing without the pair.

• On deck: Middleton is at Verona in a Big Eight showdown Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Cardinals are then at Janesville Parker Saturday at 2:45 p.m.

 

Jan. 28

Sun Prairie 83, Middleton 77

Middleton ………………. 28 49 — 77

Sun Prairie …………….. 38 45 — 83

MIDDLETON — A. Lemirande 9 4-5 22, Anderson 3 0-0 7, B. Lemirande 6 0-5 14, Bursac 0 3-4 3, Staples 3 3-4 10, Tanin 1 4-4 6, Thomas 2 4-6 8, White 2 3-4 7. Totals 26 21-32 77.

SUN PRAIRIE — Baker 4 6-8 16, Blair 7 3-6 19, Coulthart 1 0-1 3, Faust-Ziegler 4 2-5 10, Hilber 2 0-0 4, Jansen 8 8-11 25, Kostelnik 2 1-2 5, Moore 0 1-2 1. Totals 28 21-35 83.

3-point goals — SP 6 (Baker 2, Blair 2, Coulthart 1, Jansen 1), MID 4 (Anderson 1, B. Lemirande 2, Staples 1). Total fouls — SUN 23, MID 29.

 

Jan. 27

Middleton 73, Janesville Craig 44

Janesville Craig ………….. 20 24 — 44

Middleton ………………… 40 33 — 73

JANESVILLE CRAIG — Al. Carlson 4, Am. Carlson 6, Dunlavy 2, E. Pierson 13, Elgas 4, Goswick 2, Halverson 6, Parkhurst 1, S. Pierson 4, Wojcik 2. Total 44.

MIDDLETON — A. Lemirande 9, Anderson 7, B. Lemirande 7, Dunn 4, Schauer 2, Staples 2, Tanin 18, Thomas 9, White 10, T. Lemirande 5. Total 73.

3-point goals — M 7 (Anderson 1, Tanin 4, Thomas 1, T. Lemirande 1), JC 2 (E. Pierson 2). Total fouls — M 21, JC 17.

 

 

 

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