MHS girls fall to Memorial

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Josie Lemirande (right) and Middleton’s girls basketball team fell to Madison Memorial last Friday./Photo courtesy of Mary Bavery

MADISON — The pressure came in waves. And like a migraine headache, it never subsided.

Full court traps. Intense ball pressure. And a deep and athletic roster that kept throwing new bodies into the fray.

Madison Memorial’s girls basketball team — ranked No. 2 in the latest wissports.net poll — put the clamps on No. 4 Middleton last Friday. The Spartans forced 27 Middleton turnovers, held the visiting Cardinals to 26.3% shooting and rolled to a 67-51 win in an early-season Big Eight Conference showdown.

Middleton, the defending WIAA Division 1 state runners-up, fell to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the league. The Spartans, who lost to the Cardinals in the sectional finals last year, improved to 4-0, 4-0.

“They play really hard and fast and try getting you to play their pace,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “We just need to be stronger with the ball. That was a huge problem for us.”

Cardinals senior point guard Josie Lemirande agreed.

“They’re a very good pressure team and that gave us a lot of trouble,” Lemirande said. “Usually, we’re very calm and collected, but we got sped up and that worked in their favor.”

Memorial returned most of its team from a year ago, then added two key players that both played a huge role in the win.

Leilani Kapinus, a Penn State recruit and the No. 1 rated senior in the state, is back after missing most of her junior season with a torn ACL. Kapinus finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, three blocks, two assists and a steal.

And junior guard Mia Morel, who transferred this offseason from Marshall, had a game-high 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Morel added six rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Middleton senior forward Sitori Tanin, a Loyola (Ill.) recruit, led the Cardinals with 16 points and seven rebounds. Senior forward Karina Bursac added 11 points, while Lemirande had eight points and eight rebounds.

“We knew they’d be different and probably better than the last time we played them,” Tanin said. “I just don't think we were ready for their speed. You can practice for it, but it’s different when you play against it.”

The Cardinals had their first unit practice against seven defenders much of last week in preparation for the Spartans. But Memorial’s speed and intensity are tough to simulate.

“Game speed is just different,” Kind said.

Middleton found that out the hard way early on.

The game was tied, 9-9, just more than four minutes in. Memorial then erupted on an 11-0 run that eventually grew to a 20-2 burst.

By the time the run ended, the Spartans held a 29-11 lead and Middleton was playing comeback the rest of the night.

The Cardinals had 19 possessions during that stretch, managed just one field goal and turned the ball over nine times. Memorial, meanwhile, made 9-of-20 shots during that time and turned its pressure defense into offense.

“It definitely got away from us there,” Lemirande said. “We need to practice harder and be ready the next time we see that.”

Middleton used a 9-3 run to close within 32-20 late in the first half. Lemirande had five points in that stretch, while senior forward Kendall Roquet and Bursac both had two points.

But Memorial scored the final four points of the first half — and the first four of the second half — and pushed its lead back to 40-20.

Middleton closed within 45-32 with 11 minutes left after a three-pointer by sophomore McKenna Monogue. But that was the closest the Cardinals came.

Memorial stretched its lead to as many as 21 and cruised home.

“The truth is this was a bigger game for them than it was for us,” Kind said. “We used it as a benchmark to kind of see where we are and now we’ll go from here.”

While the loss was disappointing, the Cardinals expect it to be just the first chapter of a year-long battle with the Spartans.

The two conference favorites and state powers meet Jan. 31 in Middleton. They also seem likely to meet in the postseason.

“They’re a really good team,” Tanin said of Memorial. “But we’ll learn from this and hopefully we’ll be a lot better when we play them again.”

 

Dec. 13

Madison Memorial 67, Middleton 51
Middleton ………………… 20 31 — 51

Madison Memorial …… 36 31 — 67

MIDDLETON — Lemirande 2 3-6 8, Tanin 5 3-6 16, Roquet 1 2-3 4, Coleman 0 2-2 2, Bursac 5 1-3 11, Monogue 2 0-2 6, Accola 1 0-0 2, Smith 0 2-4 2, Schwartz 0 0-0 0, Hodson 0 0-0 0, Acker 0 0-0 0, Young 0 0-0 0, Gaab 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 13-24 51.

MADISON MEMORIAL — Kapinus 4 0-0 10, Morel 7 2-2 17, Brown 1 2-2 4, Rankins 3 0-2 6, Sweet 4 0-0 10, White Eagle 3 0-0 7, Garcia 3 1-2 8, Thorns 2 1-2 5, Peters 0 0-0 0, Rauwolf 0 0-0 0, Tomalin 0 0-0 0, Grewal 0 0-0 0, Virgin 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 6-10 67.

3-point goals — Mid 6 (Tanin 3, Monogue 2, Lemirande 1); MM 7 (Kapinus 2, Sweet 2, Morel 1, White Eagle 1, Garcia 1).

Total fouls — Mid 12, MM 25.

 

 

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