Middleton's girls storm into sectionals

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Gregg Hammill/For the Times-Tribune
Bria Lemirande and Middleton's girls basketball team defeated Verona in a regional final last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

After watching Verona claim a state title last year, Middleton’s girls’ basketball team is hoping it’s their turn.

The Cardinals took a huge step in that direction with a 63-53 victory over the defending champion Wildcats in a WIAA Division 1 regional final last Saturday night.

“We told ourselves this is one of the biggest games we’re ever going to play,” Middleton senior forward Carlee Lemirande said.

It was Middleton’s third victory over Verona this season.

“Both teams played really hard, it was a good battle,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “Playing a team like that for the third time of the year you know it’s tough to beat a team that third time. We’re so familiar with each other that it was actually a pretty good defensive battle for the most part.”

Fourth-seeded Middleton (21-3), ranked eighth in the Associated Press Division 1 state poll, advances to play top-seeded Mukwonago (22-2), ranked sixth in the AP poll, in a sectional semifinal at Madison Memorial Thursday at 7 p.m.

“It’s a good win and we’re just happy to keep moving on,” Kind said. “That’s all it’s about right now, survival and just get to that next stage.”

“We just told ourselves to take it game by game,” added Lemirande. “Just keep that mind set and just go for it.”

Senior guard Bria Lemirande led a balanced Cardinals attack with 13 points. Sophomore guard Charlotte Dunn added nine points, while senior Alyssa Lemirande, Carlee Lemirande and junior Halle White had seven points apiece.

Verona was led by UW-Green Bay recruit Alex Luehring, who scored a game-high 18 points. The 6-foot-2 Luehring gave the Cardinals trouble inside and outside where she connected on four 3-pointers.

“We did our best to stop her, but she still hit a lot of shots,” Carlee Lemirande said. “It’s amazing because we were in her face, but she could still make them. We did our best to stop her and that worked. It was a team effort completely.”

“(Luehring’s) hard to defend,” added Bria Lemirande. “She just gets where she wants to go, she gets the ball and can pretty much do whatever she wants with it.”

The Cardinals threatened to pull away several times in the contest, but Verona always had an answer.

Middleton led 11-5 after a steal and layup by Hannah Flottmeyer, but the Wildcats responded with a 7-0 spurt to take the lead. The Cardinals again surged to a 22-16 lead on a three-pointer by Katrina Anderson only to see Verona go on a 10-2 run capped by a Luehring three-pointer.

Middleton rallied back to take a 33-29 halftime lead with the help of a three-point play by Bria Lemirande.

“We got up by a couple points and then they would hit a three,” Bria Lemirande said. “They have some really good three-point shooters.”

“That’s the frustrating part because our momentum is up and then they come back and then everyone gets down again,” added Carlee Lemirande. “That’s something we’ve got to work on just getting everybody up the whole game. I think we can definitely do it.”

Verona regained the lead at 34-33 in the second half on a putback by Brina James and another three-pointer by Luehring. Bria Lemirande scored on a layup to give Middleton its first points of the second half and a 35-34 lead at the 13 minute, 7 second mark.

The teams traded baskets until Middleton used an 8-2 run to go up 50-44 with 5:48 remaining. Dunn drilled a three-pointer to start the run and Alyssa Lemirande capped it with a three-pointer off the glass.

Verona pulled within 50-47 after Chandler Bainbridge converted a three-point play, but could get no closer than five points the rest of the way.

The Wildcats totaled 17 turnovers and turned it over seven times down the stretch.

“We put some pressure on them,” Bria Lemirande said. “That’s kind of what we hope to do always is just get the pressure on them and get a stop.”

“We had a couple steals on our pressing, which kind of caught them off guard,” added Dunn.

Kind said the Wildcats’ duo of guard Sie’anna Mitchell and Luehring made it difficult for the Cardinals to press.

“(Mitchell) is a good ball handler and she’s quick and then we have to stay with Alex all the time,” said Kind. “With those two breaking the press then our rotations to get a trap are out of there so that’s a smart move on their part. Then we just had to get back in the half court and play good defense.”

Seven players connected on three-pointers for the Cardinals. White, Carlee Lemirande, Alyssa Lemirande, Bria Lemirande, Charlotte Dunn, Haley Dunn and Anderson all had threes.

Led by Luehring’s 10 rebounds, the Wildcats outrebounded Middleton, 38-29. White, Dunn and Bria Lemirande had five rebounds each for the Cardinals.

Feb. 25

WIAA Division 1 regional final

Middleton 63, Verona 53

Verona .………………………….. 29  24 — 53

Middleton .….……...........…..…. 33  30 — 63

VERONA — Sie’anna Mitchell 4-9 0-1 8, Chandler Bainbridge 4-11 4-5 12, Brina James 3-7 0-1 6, Grace Schraufnagel 1-2 2-4 4, Alex Luehring 7-17 0-0 18, Stacy Giese 1-1 1-2 3, Jose Mueller 1-2 0-1 2, Breyanna Penn 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-49 7-14 53.

MIDDLETON — Halle White 2-6 2-2 7, Carlee Lemirande 2-6 2-4 7, Alyssa Lemirande 3-12 0-0 7, Alex Thomas 0-8 6-6 6, Bria Lemirande 4-10 4-8 13, Haley Dunn 1-1 0-0 3, Hannah Flottmeyer 2-7 2-2 6, Charlotte Dunn 3-5 2-2 9, Katrina Anderson 1-2 0-0 3, Claire Staples 0-4 2-2 2. Totals 18-61 20-26 63.

3-point goals – V 4 (Luehring 4), M 7 (White, Carlee Lemirande, Bria Lemirande, Harley Dunn, Charlotte Dunn, Anderson). Total fouls – V 20, M 13. Fouled out – Bainbridge.

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