Girls basketball team picking up steam

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Megan Schwartz and Middleton's girls basketball team won two of three games at the Franklin Tournament over Christmas./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

FRANKLIN — Health, happiness and prosperity.

These are wishes many have for the New Year.

Middleton’s girls basketball team is now finally healthy for the first time this season. Perhaps happiness and prosperity are soon to follow.

The Cardinals welcomed senior forward Claire Staples — who had been sidelined the past five weeks with a high ankle sprain — back to the lineup last week. And with Staples back in the fold, a young and inexperienced Middleton team once again has a branch of consistency to hold onto.

The Cardinals went to the Franklin Tournament and won two out of three games.

Middleton dropped an 80-67 decision to Germantown in last Wednesday’s opening round. But the Cardinals rebounded with a 76-46 win over Racine Case on Thursday and a 66-43 victory over Kenosha St. Joseph on Friday.

Middleton finished fifth overall at the tournament and improved to 5-5 on the year. And with Staples back in the lineup, things are starting to look up for this young Cardinals team.

“Claire just brings a presence on the court that everyone looks at and you say, ‘Dang. I need to step up my game right now,’ ” Middleton junior center Hannah Flottmeyer said. “I just feel like it’s been a huge void without her.

“We’ve all tried to fill it and I’ve tried to step up and fill it, but it’s hard to fill her role. It’s just, she’s Claire. Even her actions on the court, she doesn’t even need to say anything and you just know what needs to be done.”

Staples was a part-time starter the last two seasons on veteran Middleton teams. But after the Cardinals suffered huge graduation losses, Staples figured to be the steadying influence coach Jeff Kind would build his team around.

In Middleton’s second game of the year, though — a loss at Sun Prairie — Staples left early with a high ankle sprain. Doctors initially told Staples she wouldn’t return until sometime in January, but she beat their estimates by a week or two.

“I was like, ‘I’m proving you wrong,’ ” Staples said of her mindset. “There was no chance I was missing that much time.”

In Middleton’s win over the Lancers, Staples made 4-of-7 shots, scored nine points and played roughly half of the game — her most significant action since returning. Sophomore guard Evie Coleman had 11 points, Flottmeyer had 10 points and eight rebounds and junior guard Charlotte Dunn added 10 points.

But the steady Staples provided the stability Middleton was missing during her absence.

“I think with her coming back here, it will really help our confidence,” Flottmeyer said. “She just keeps things under control on the court, both mentally and emotionally.”

Kind agreed with Flottmeyer.

“She helps us out in a lot of areas,” Kind said. “She handles the ball well for us. She can hit a shot. She’s not all the way back yet, but she’s getting there.”

Middleton is starting to get where it hopes to be, as well.

The Cardinals have been playing man-to-man, full court pressure defense after made baskets and a 1-3-1 zone defense after misses. Against St. Joseph’s that method worked like a charm as Middleton held the Lancers to just 29.3% shooting (17-of-58).

“We’re getting better at it,” Kind said of the 1-3-1 defense.

Middleton led, 24-21, late in the first half when it went on a 7-0 run. Both sophomore guard Josie Lemirande and senior post Halle White made a pair of free throws and senior guard Haley Dunn (eight points) knocked down a three-pointer.

That burst helped the Cardinals build a 31-23 halftime lead.

Middleton’s lead was 39-31 with 12 minutes left when it went on a game-changing 11-0 run. Sophomore Karina Bursac and Coleman both had four points during that burst, while Staples also had a basket.

The closest the Lancers came afterwards was 13 points.

“We’re getting there,” Staples said. “We’re young and the lack of experience is what everybody was saying at the start of the year. But I think the sophomores are really picking up their game and everybody is adapting. Plus, we’re so deep, I’m confident with every player on our team.”

Middleton also had an impressive showing the day before during its rout of Racine Case.

Sophomore forward Sitori Tanin led the Cardinals with 12 points, while Coleman had 10. Senior guard Tavi Tanin, Lemirande and Bursac all added eight points, while Staples had seven points.

In Middleton’s game loss to Germantown in the first round of the tournament, the Warhawks led just 37-36 at halftime. But Germantown made 10 three-pointers in the second half and pulled away.

The Warhawks, who went on to finish second at the tournament, shot 16-of-36 (44.4%) on three pointers for the game.

Sitori Tanin led Middleton with 13 points, while Bursac added 11 and Coleman had 10.

“They came out and were just unconscious in the second half,” Kind said of Germantown.

Overall, though, it was a terrific tournament for the Cardinals.

Not only did Middleton win two of three games against solid competition, it got back arguably its most important player and began to resemble the type of team it hopes to be.

“Think of how much better we’ve gotten already in the past month,” Staples said. “You can already tell that the sophomores are adapting so much. I think we’re just going to keep improving.”

Flottmeyer agreed.

“I think with each game we’re gaining a little more confidence,” Flottmeyer said. “I think this weekend we definitely made some strides in our confidence. I mean, we still have a ton to work on, but I think each day we got a little bit better. We’re slowly taking steps to where we want to be.”

 

Dec. 27

Germantown 80, Middleton 67

Germantown .................. 37 43 — 80

Middleton ...................... 36 31 — 67

GERMANTOWN — Ische 4 0-0 12, McNeal 4 0-0 8, Richmond 6 2-4 18, Decker 2 0-0 5, Ische 6 0-0 18, Hasbrook 1 0-2 2, Acker 3

0-0 6, McNeal 3 2-2 9, Paul 1 0-0 2. Totals 30 4-9 80.

MIDDLETON — White 1 2-2 4, Staples 1 0-0 2, T. Tanin 1 0-0 3, Bursac 5 1-4 11, H. Dunn 3 0-1 8, C. Dunn 1 0-1 2, Coleman 4 2-2 10, Lemirande 2 1-2 7, S. Tanin 4 5-8 13, Flottmeyer 3 1-2 7. Totals 25 12-22 67.

3-point goals — 16 (Ische 4, Richmond 4, Decker 1, Ische 6, McNeal 1), MID 5 (T. Tanin 1, H. Dunn 2, Lemirande 2). Total fouls — 19, MID 16.

 

Dec. 28

Middleton 76, Racine Case 46

Middleton ……………… 42 34 — 76

Racine Case …………… 26 20 — 46

MIDDLETON — White 3 0-0 6, Staples 3 1-1 7, T. Tanin 3 0-0 8, Bursac 4 0-0 8, H. Dunn 2 0-0 4, Coleman 3 2-4 10, Schwartz 2 0-0 5, Lemirande 2 2-2 7, S. Tanin 5 1-2 12, Flottmeyer 2 1-2 5, Roquet 2 0-0 4. Totals 31 7-11 76.

RACINE CASE — Malone 1 4-4 6, Bethke 1 2-2 4, Nwanosike 4 4-6 12, Oliver 2 2-6 7, Jones 3 1-2 7, Brooks 2 5-8 9, Perry 0 1-2 1. Totals 13 19-29 46.

3-point goals — MID 7 (T. Tanin 2, Coleman 2, Schwartz 1, Lemirande 1, S. Tanin 1), RC 1 (Oliver 1). Total fouls — MID 23, RC 13.

 

Dec. 29

Middleton 66, Kenosha St. Joseph 43

Kenosha St. Joseph ............... 23 20 — 43

Middleton ...................... 31 35 — 66

KENOSHA ST. JOSEPH — Matrise 1 0-0 11, Roffers 2 0-0 4, Callahan 2 4-4 8, Alia 1 0-1 2, Mattox 2 0-0 4, Johnson 5 2-4 12, Mattox 1 0-0 2, Watts 0. Totals 14 6-9 43.

MIDDLETON — White 0 2-2 2, Staples 3 0-0 9, Bursac 3 0-2 6, H. Dunn 2 1-2 8, C. Dunn 1 3-3 10, Coleman 3 2-3 11, Lemirande 0 2-2 2, S. Tanin 1 1-2 3, Flottmeyer 4 2-4 10, Roquet 0 2-2 5. Totals 18 15-22 66.

3-point goals — KSJ 3 (Matrise 3), MID 6 (Staples 1, H. Dunn 1, C. Dunn 2, Coleman 1, Roquet 1). Total fouls — MID 15, KSJ 20. Fouled out — Watts.

 

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