Middleton's girls headed back to state

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Adam Hatlan/For the Times-Tribune
Middleton's girls basketball team is headed back to state for the seventh time since 2008 and the 10th time in school history./Photo submitted

JANESVILLE — For the 10th time in school history, Middleton’s girls basketball team is headed to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament. And to the surprise of many, the Cardinals’ final test was much easier than anticipated.

Middleton advanced to state by rolling over Madison East, 65-38, in a sectional final played at Janesville Craig High School last Saturday.

The Cardinals and Purgolders had split their previous two meetings, with each team winning on the road. This time, though, fourth-seeded Middleton forced 21 turnovers and held East to 33% shooting for the game.

Middleton improved to 23-3 and now meets DePere (24-2) in a state semifinal at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon Friday at 8:15 p.m. The state championship game would be Saturday at approximately 8:15 p.m.

“I think I’m most proud of our defensive effort for the whole game,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said afterwards. “We did a great job on the boards, didn’t give them many second shots. It was a good team defensive effort.”

Middleton was able to shut down East’s top two scorers, Auburn recruit Erin Howard and Justice Filip. The tandem had entered the game combining for 31 points per game this season, but managed just 17 against the Cardinals.

“Our defense is something we are always trying to focus on,” said Middleton senior guard Alyssa Lemirande. “We tried to make sure we helped on Erin (Howard) the whole time. At halftime we said if we can just keep our defense strong, we can win.” 

Kind agreed.

“(Erin Howard and Justice Filip) are what makes (East) go. I thought we did a great job on both of them,” Kind said. “Erin got some points in the second half in the post, but first half we were able to keep her out of there and make her work to beat the press. (Our girls) did a good job of following the game plan.”

On the flip side, Middleton’s offense was extremely balanced and had eight players score five points, or more. Senior wing Alexis Thomas led the Cardinals with 13 points, while junior forward Claire Staples added 10.

It was a game of scoring bursts for Middleton’s offense, as it had runs of 17-1, 11-1, and 8-0 during the game to help post the lopsided win.

The Cardinals trailed, 10-8, at the 14:35 mark, but that was the last time they would face a deficit.

Middleton exploded on a 17-1 run over the next eight minutes to take a 25-11 lead. The Cardinals had seven players score during that run, including, while East went five minutes without a point and committed seven turnovers during that stretch.

“(That 17-1 run) gave us a lot of adrenaline and energy during the game,” said Thomas, who averaged 17.5 points per game in the Cardinals’ two sectional wins.

Middleton held a 35-20 halftime lead, then smacked the Purgolders with an 11-1 run to start the second half and extend its advantage to 46-21 with 14:33 left in the game. Alyssa Lemirande scored the first two baskets during the run in just nine seconds, stealing an inbounds pass for her second hoop.

“The first run was really important because we started off strong, and the (second half) run showed that we weren’t backing down,” said Alyssa Lemirande, who finished with six points.

Middleton used an 8-0 run a short time later to put the game out of reach. That burst extended the Cardinals’ lead to 56-27 with 8:11 remaining and gave Middleton what proved to be an insurmountable lead.

Middleton shot 44% from the field for the game, including 5-for-13 on three-pointers. The Cardinals also went 24-for-34 from the free-throw line (70.6%).

Middleton reached its seventh state tournament since 2008 and its 10th overall and will be now be looking for its first-ever state title. East was searching for its third state tournament berth in school history, and its first since 1990.

“Middleton executed really well,” said East head coach James Adams. “(Middleton) came out really prepared, shot the ball well. They just kind of took it to us and I don’t think we ever recovered.

“We had a great season. We’re going to take this momentum and start working. These girls are going to be hungrier than ever (next year).”

Middleton pushed its winning streak to seven games and believes it has a world of momentum heading to state. Many of the Cardinals’ upperclassmen were at the state tournament in 2015, but lost in the semifinals.

“We have experience and we have a lot of depth,” Kind said. “If we stay healthy and keep everybody playing hard, the experience and depth is a definite asset for us.”

The Cardinals’ five seniors would like to be a part of history and help bring home the first state title in school history.

“We have kind of a special bond,” Thomas said. “We’re all super close, especially us seniors. We would love it more than anything.”

Alyssa Lemirande would love to be part of something special with the team, especially with her two sisters.

“I would be so happy. All of our hard work would pay off,” Alyssa Lemirande said. “The first time ever in school history, it would just be amazing. To do it with these people, with two of my sisters, something to remember for the rest of our lives.”

 

March 4

Middleton  ………………….……….. 35  30 — 65

Madison East ……………………….. 20  18 — 38

MIDDLETON — A. Lemirande 3 0-0 6, Anderson 1 0-0 3, B. Lemirande 2 2-2 6, C. Dunn 0 2-3 2, C. Lemirande 2 0-0 5, Dunn 2 2-4 7, Flottmeyer 3 0-1 6, Schauer 0 1-2 1, Staples 2 3-6 8, Tanin 0 2-4 2, Thomas 3 6-6 13, White 0 6-6 6. Totals 18 24-34 65.

MADISON EAST — Bertley 0 0-1 0, Conners 1 0-0 2, Connor 0 2-2 2, Dorman 0 0-4 0, Filip 2 0-0 5, Hayes 1 0-2 2, Howard 4 3-4 12, Kruser 2 2-5 6, Larson 3 0-0 6, Moseberry 1 1-2 3. Totals 14 8-20 38.

3-point goals — MID 5 (Anderson 1, C. Lemirande 1, Dunn 1, Staples 1, Thomas 1), ME 2 (Filip 1, Howard 1). Total fouls — MID 14, ME 24. Fouled

 

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