Girls basketball team edges Lancers

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MTT News's picture
Adam Hatlan/For the Times-Tribune
Tavi Tanin and Middleton's girls basketball team snuck past Madison La Follette on Feb. 9./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

It was exactly the type of basketball game a team craves late in the season: a tough, grind-it-out road contest that tests players’ mental and physical toughness and readies them for the postseason.

Middleton’s girls basketball team got exactly that kind of test last Friday when it visited Madison La Follette.

Late-game free throw shooting and the play of Sitori Tanin were huge down the stretch for Middleton, as the Cardinals hung on to defeat the host Lancers, 60-57.

Middleton improved to 13-7 overall and 11-5 in the Big Eight, while LaFollette fell to 12-8 overall, 8-8 in the Big Eight. 

“We’re coming up on playoff basketball, and that was kind of the atmosphere we had tonight,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “We’re two pretty even teams: they’ve been coming on, and I think we’ve been starting to play better.

“We knocked down some clutch free throws late. Halle (White) came in and hit some big free throws, Claire (Staples) hitting some (free throws) down the stretch. It was a good win for us.”

Middleton won the free throw battle, making more free throws than LaFollette attempted. The Cardinals went 15-of-21 at the line to LaFollette’s 9-of-14.

Tanin was terrific after halftime, scoring 12 of her team-high 18 in the second half on 5-of-8 shooting. She made 7-of-12 shots for the game.

Tanin made a clutch, go-ahead basket underneath the basket with the game tied at 51 and 1:27 remaining. Tanin then added two crucial free throws 24 seconds later to give Middleton a four-point cushion late in the game.

“I know that we have to score and I tried to go up as strong as I can,” said Tanin of the go-ahead basket. “Coach (Kind) has helped me really go up (to the hoop) strong and get a foul called, keep my elbows out when I have the ball. That’s how I got the foul called when I made those free throws.”

Kind has noticed the improvement in his sophomore forward.

“(Sitori) is starting to come into her own and be a pretty dominant post player,” Kind said. “She played a good game all around.”

Middleton was able to attack the post all evening. Tanin and fellow sophomore Karina Bursac, along with junior Hannah Flottmeyer, combined for 26 points in the paint. The Cardinals had 30 points in the paint for the game.

“We have been a perimeter team for years and years, but now we kind of have to change our mentality,” Kind said of the Cardinals’ strong post play. “I think our strength is down in the post. We’re starting to do a better job of getting the ball in there. We’ve still got room to improve, but it’s coming along.”

Middleton jumped to an 8-0 lead to start the game, getting three-pointers from Staples and Josie Lemirande. The Cardinals still led, 18-10, with 7:20 left in the first, but then the Lancers started chipping away.

LaFollete’s Kaytlin Eder drilled a long three-point basket to tie the game at 24 with just under a minute left in the first half. Staples drilled two free throws to give Middleton a 26-24 lead at the break.

The second half remained close, as the largest lead for the Cardinals was four. The teams were tied on five occasions during the second half.

Not only did Tanin have a big second half, but Eder also had 12 points for the Lancers on her way to a game-high 20. The Lancers trio of Eder, Sydni Olson, and Megan Lowery combined for 28 of LaFollette’s 33 second half points.

Tied at 51, Tanin provided the go-ahead heroics and gave Middleton a four-point cushion with 1:03 to go. Lowery answered with a tough basket for LaFollete: missing a three-pointer, grabbing her own rebound, and scoring to make it 55-53 with 44 seconds to go. 

Staples made one of two free throws with 33 seconds left to give Middleton a 56-53 lead. The Cardinals fouled Olson on the ensuing possession, and she made one of two to pull the Lancers within 56-54 with 23 seconds remaining.

White was immediately fouled and made a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left to give Middleton a 58-54 lead. But La Follette’s Eder nailed another long three-pointer to pull the Lancers within 58-57 with 10 seconds left.

Middleton called timeout to set up its inbounds play and got creative.

The Cardinals drew up a rarely seen play where the inbounding player passes to another player along the baseline while still out of bounds, allowing the second player to throw the ball inbounds.

In this case, Haley Dunn sprinted out of bounds to catch the baseline pass from her teammate, completely fooling the La Follette defense. Dunn then fired a pass to a wide open Bursac as she sprinted down the court and iced the game with a basket as the final buzzer sounded.

The La Follete crowd was raucous afterwards, but the play was perfectly legal.

“That’s a situation we practice. If it’s after a basket we can make that pass along the baseline,” Kind said of the inbounds play. “I told the kids ‘That’s why we practice those things.’ They ran it and they ran it well.”

Added Tanin: “Tonight was a game we really needed to win. It’s a push forward for the start of the playoffs.”

On deck: Middleton travels to Beloit Memorial Thursday at 7:30 p.m., then finishes the regular season by hosting Madison East Saturday at 7:30 p.m.


Feb. 9

Middleton 60, Madison La Follette 57

Middleton ………….. 26  34 — 60

Madison La Follette ……………. 24  33 — 57

MIDDLETON — Lemirande 2 2-2 8, T. Tanin 2 0-0 4, S. Tanin 7 4-7 18, Schauer 1 0-0 3, Bursac 4 0-2 8, Staples 2 7-8 13, Flottmeyer 2 0-0 4, White 0 2-2 2. Totals 20 15-21 60.

MADISON LA FOLLETTE — Lowery 6 0-0 12, Eder 6 4-5 20, Lee 0 2-4 2, Steele 1 0-0 2, Riak 1 0-0 3, Walker 2 0-0 4, Olson 4 3-5 14. Totals 20 9-14 57.

Three-point goals: Mid 5 (Lemirande 2, Staples 2, Schauer 1). MLF 8 (Eder 4, Olson 3, Riak 1). Total fouls — Mid 15 MLF 20. 




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