Girls basketball team thinking big

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Josie Lemirande and Middleton's girls basketball team have great expectations this winter./File photo

Jeff Kind read the book ‘Legacy’ this past offseason.

And Middleton’s girls’ basketball coach immediately knew what the theme was going to be for his 2018-’19 Cardinals.

The book tells stories about champions doing extra, how they handle pressure and what their secrets to success are. And Kind has stressed them all since beginning practice last week.

Middleton, which opens its season by hosting Madison East Friday at 7:30 p.m., now hopes to create its own legacy this winter.

“We’ve talked about it before that you’re trying to leave a legacy here,” said Kind, who was recently inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. “We’re trying to develop a culture, maintain some of the tradition from over the years and hopefully add to it.”

These Cardinals certainly have a chance to do just that.

Middleton went 15-8 a year ago and finished third in the Big Eight Conference at 13-5. But the Cardinals have a gifted nucleus back and hope to challenge for a league title this winter.

“It’s going to be a good year, I can tell,” Middleton junior forward Sitori Tanin said. “The conference is going to be really competitive this year, but I think we can be up there with them all and be really high in the conference.”

Senior post Hannah Flottmeyer agreed.

“It’s going to be a fun group,” Flottmeyer said. “It’s different. I’m the senior and the leader right now. It’s definitely a different role I’ve had to step into, but these girls are amazing. I’m super excited.”

There’s good reason for excitement. Middleton welcomes back six of its top nine scorers from a year ago and should have the firepower to compete for a league title.

The 6-foot-2 Tanin — who holds offers from six Division 1 schools — figures to lead the way. Tanin was Middleton’s leading scorer a year ago at 10.1 points per game and averaged 14.4 points over her final five games.

Tanin, who finished sixth at state last year in the triple jump, has also improved her outside game and could be a force from any spot on the floor.

“Sitori is one that we can give her the ball and be like, ‘all right.’ She is a sweet player,” Flottmeyer said. “She’s very gifted, but she’s still a great team player.”

Kind agreed.

“You’ve got a (6-2) girl that can almost dunk a tennis ball,” Kind said. “She’s fast and strong. Great athlete and she’s just learning how to play, really.”

Junior forward Karina Bursac was second on the team in scoring last year (8.1) and could also be poised for a big season. Bursac, who’s beginning her third varsity season, has flashed at times, but needs to develop consistency.

“There have been times where it looks like she’s the best player on the court,” Kind said. “Then there are times she kind of vanishes. We just need her to become more consistent.”

Senior point guard Charlotte Dunn is an explosive player who must limit her turnovers. Junior guard Josie Lemirande (4.9 ppg) could be on the brink of a breakout season.

Junior guards Evie Coleman (5.8), Kendall Roquet (5.9) and Megan Schwartz (4.3) will all be in the rotation, as well. Flottmeyer and sophomore post Melanie Accola figure to be frontcourt anchors.

“We’re going to be pretty long,” Kind said. “We’ve just got to get them to understand that we shouldn't be outrebounded by anybody because I’m not happy with how aggressive we are rebounding yet.

“We’ve got a lot of growing to do yet. But I think we have the pieces to end up being pretty good.”

Kind remains worried about ball handling after the Cardinals averaged 22 turnovers per game.

“We can’t have that again,” he said. “If we keep it under 15, I can live with that.”

Kind recently gave all of the Cardinals a card that listed many of the players that have worn their jersey number through the years. The message was simple.

Legacy.

“We’ve asked the girls to leave the jersey in a better place than they found it,” he said.

With a gifted, hungry crew, that certainly seems possible.

“I think we did better than we thought we would last year,” Tanin said. “And now, I feel like we’ve all just improved a lot over the summer and it shows a lot. I think we can have a great year.”

 

 

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