Heartbreak for MHS girls

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MTT News's picture
Bill Huber/For the Times-Tribune
Middleton’s Bria Lemirande shoots during the Cardinals’ overtime loss to DePere in the state semifinals./Photo courtesy of Brian Roebke

ASHWAUBENON — Bria Lemirande, in control of so many games throughout her career at Middleton, found one thing she couldn’t control on Friday night.

Her emotions.

Lemirande, one of five seniors on the roster and the team’s four-year starting point guard, saw her career end after a 49-47 overtime loss to De Pere in a WIAA Division 1 girls basketball state semifinal game at the Resch Center.

“It’s a really bad feeling,” she said through tears that rendered her speechless earlier in the postgame press conference. “I just feel like we had the potential to go all the way this year. Falling short, it’s not how I wanted it to end.”

Middleton had a chance to win the game in regulation and tie the game in overtime, but couldn’t connect. With the game knotted, 41-41, with 9.1 seconds left in regulation, Bria Lemirande couldn’t score in the lane and Alyssa Lemirande’s runner just before the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim.

“We wanted to get into the lane and we did get a couple pretty good shots,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “That’s the way we practice it is to get a shot and have enough time to get a rebound shot, and we did. Unfortunately, neither one fell.”

In overtime, Olivia DeCleene hit one of two free throws to give De Pere a 49-47 lead with 40.3 seconds remaining. With 7 seconds to go, Alyssa Lemirande missed a lean-in jumper. The Cardinals retained possession and inbounded the ball from the side.

Alexis Thomas got the ball inside to Halle White, who put up a hook shot in the lane with 2.5 seconds left. The ball hit the back of the rim and bounced off, and nobody could control the rebound before the horn.

Middleton ended the year 23-4. DePere finished the season 25-3 after falling in the state championship game to Appleton West last Saturday.

“We pride ourselves on defense,” first-year De Pere coach Jeremy Boileau said. “At the beginning of the year, we wanted to be known as a defensive program, because that’s what wins games and that’s what wins championships. To see the game end with a stop, there couldn’t be any better way to win a game.”

The Cardinals had been held to less than 60 points only twice all season — and never less than 56 — and had averaged 72.6 during the seven-game winning streak that carried them to state. But Middleton couldn’t solve the Redbirds’ defense and was limited to 30.2% shooting.

“We didn’t get many open looks the first half,” Kind said. “The times we did score, we managed to get into the lane, but they were doing a great job of keeping us out of the lane.

That’s a big part of our game when we’re facing a man-to-man defense. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit for the tenacity with which they played.”

Bria Lemirande led the Cardinals with 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Alyssa Lemirande added 10 points and six rebounds and White pulled down 10 rebounds.

Annie Schneider paced De Pere with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Trailing, 20-13, at halftime, Middleton cranked up its defense. The Cardinals held the Redbirds without a basket for almost 5 minutes, which allowed them to trim a 23-15 deficit to 26-25.

A hustling rebound by Bria Lemirande set up a 3-pointer by Thomas that cut the margin to 29-28. Thomas added a running hook in the lane to bring the Cardinals within one again at 33-32.

Middleton finally took the lead — its first since 5-4 — on White’s fake-and-bank three-point play, which made it 35-33 with 6:19 remaining. However, DeCleene answered with a 3-pointer and Schneider hit a baseline runner to put De Pere back in front 38-35.

Middleton recaptured the lead, thanks in part to a pair of steals by Haley Dunn. The first led to an easy fast-break layup by Bria Lemirande. The second led to Bria Lemirande hitting two free throws to give Middleton a 39-38 lead with 3 minutes to go.

Trailing, 41-40, Bria Lemirande got fouled on a drive and split a pair of free throws with 10.6 seconds remaining. Middleton then forced a turnover — yet another key play for a defense that held De Pere to 31.9% shooting from the floor.

“They’re probably talking the same way about not being able to get into the lane a whole lot and keeping continuous pressure on them,” Kind said. “That’s been our mode of operation all season — we’re going to put constant pressure on you and it wears on you after a while. We got a couple more turnovers in the second half.”

The Cardinals scored the first four points of overtime on a pair of free throws by Carlee Lemirande and a transition basket by Alyssa Lemirande. However, De Pere scored seven consecutive points on free throws, including a pair by Schneider with 1:03 to go ahead 48-45.

A running bank shot by White pulled Middleton within one, and the free throw by DeCleene gave De Pere a 49-47 edge to set up the final sequence.

The Cardinals couldn’t buy a basket in the first half, as they trailed 20-13 at the break. White’s layup with 12:46 left in the half gave Middleton a 5-2 lead, but that would be its last basket for more than 9 minutes.

A driving basket by Bria Lemirande broke the drought and snapped a 14-2 DePere run, but the Redbirds had seized control.

Middleton shot only 5-of-24 in the first half (20.8%), including 0-of-7 from 3-point range, and didn’t have a second-chance point despite six offensive rebounds.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, their defense kept them in the game.  De Pere shot only 36% from the floor in the first half.

The loss was a disappointing final chapter for a sensational senior class.

When Middleton made it to state in 2015, the Lemirande triplets and Thomas all played key roles. This year, that quartet did most of the heavy lifting.

“This young lady to my right (Bria Lemirande) has been our starting point guard for the last four years and has improved each year and run the show more and more,” Kind said. “I just got done telling her, I’ll miss her tremendously.

“Alyssa and Carlee and Alexis and Katrina (Anderson), they’ve gone through the whole program each year (and) been a little bit stronger and a little bit stronger. They’re going to leave a legacy behind. It’s going to be tough to fill their shoes, but we’ll try.”


March 10

WIAA Division 1 state semifinals

De Pere 49, Middleton 47 (OT)

DePere ........................... 20 21 8 — 49

Middleton ...................... 13 28 6 — 47

DE PERE — Hohol 0-0 2-2 2, Nies 2-7 4-5 8, Schneider 4-11 4-4 13, DeCleene 3-7 4-8 11, Miller 2-7 2-4 6, Boyd 2-7 0-0 4, Kerkhoff 2-8 1-1 5. Totals 15-47 17-24 49.

MIDDLETON — C. Lemirande 3-6 2-2 8; White 2-7 2-3 10; A. Lemirande 4-14 2-4 10; Thomas 3-9 0-0 8; B. Lemirande 4-9 5-10 13; Anderson 0-0 0-0 0; H. Dunn 0-2 0-0 0; Bursac 0-0 0-0 0; C. Dunn 0-2 0-0 0; Staples 0-2 2-2 2; Flottmeyer 0-2 0-2 0. Totals 16-53 13-23 47.

3-point shooting — DP 2-8 (Schneider 1-1, DeCleene 1-1; Miller 0-2; Boyd 0-2; Kerkhoff 0-2; M 2-14 (Thomas 2-5; C. Lemirande 0-2; White 0-1; A. Lemirande 0-2; B. Lemirande 0-2; Dunn 0-1; Staples 0-1).

Rebounds — DP 10-23-33 (Schneider 7, Miller 7, Kerkhoff 4, DeCleene 4, Nies 5, Boyd 3, Hohol 2); M 17-26-43 (B. Lemirande 15; White 10; A. Lemirande 6; Thomas 4; C. Lemirande 2; C. Dunn 2; Flottmeyer 2; H. Dunn 1).

Assists — DP 6 (DeCleene 2, Miller 2, Schneider 1, Boyd 1); M 6 (B. Lemirande 4, Thomas 1, H. Dunn 1).

Steals — DP 6 (Miller 4, Kerkhoff 1, Hohol 1); M 4 (H. Dunn 2, C. Dunn 1, B. Lemirande 1).

Blocks — DP 2 (DeCleene 2); M 0.

Turnovers — DP 15; M 16.

Total fouls — DP 18; M 20.

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