Middleton girls KO Madison Memorial

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MTT News's picture
Bill Cooney/For the Times-Tribune
Sitori Tanin (15) had 17 points and 21 rebounds in Middleton’s win over Madison Memorial last Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Before each game, Middleton’s girls basketball team gathers together in the locker room for a players-only moment that sets the tone for what is to come out on the court.

They go around the room one-by-one, letting each other know how they are going to help the team return victorious.

On Friday night, minutes before arguably their biggest game of the season against second-ranked Madison Memorial, Cardinals senior Sitori Tanin’s turn came in the huddle.

“Every game I say I’m going to crash those boards and get a lot of rebounds,” Tanin said. “And in this game, I feel like I reached that goal pretty well.”

That would be an understatement.

Tanin pulled down 21 rebounds to go along with 17 points to lift No. 4 Middleton to a 77-68 Big Eight Conference victory before a playoff-like atmosphere at Middleton High School.

The Cardinals (15-1 overall, 11-1 Big Eight) pulled within a half-game of No. 2 Memorial (15-1, 12-1) for the conference lead, but more importantly, boosted their confidence knowing they can defeat the top teams in the state when playing their best.

“I think we also saw how much harder we need to work to get through the playoffs to state – where we want to be,” Tanin said of the Cardinals, who lost by one point in last season’s WIAA Division 1 state final.

The Cardinals shot 45.4% from the field (25-for-55) and survived despite committing 25 turnovers and making just 8 of 19 free throws in the game’s final 4 minutes, 7 seconds.

But the energy of the home crowd clearly pushed them through, and with the game tied at 64 with 2:57 left, senior guard Makenzie Hodson’s 3-pointer from the corner gave Middleton the lead for good. The Cardinals then played tough defense and closed the game with a 13-4 spurt.

“Middleton did a really good job of getting inside and using their size against us,” Memorial coach Marques Flowers said. “That’s the one kind of clear strength that they have against us and they utilized that, which is what they’re supposed to do. And we didn’t really do a good job of negating it.”

Middleton’s lone defeat came against Memorial, 67-51, in December. The Spartans have since lost star senior Mia Morel (knee) for the season and were playing without 6-foot-1 senior Reette Thorns (ankle).

“After the first lost we knew how much we had to improve,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “We’ve made a lot of improvements. We still have room to grow. It was a good win. Memorial is a tough team. They battle all of the time.”

Afterward, Tanin said Kind was emotional in the locker room, proud of his team for putting in the hard work in practice since that defeat in December.

“Coach, he got teary-eyed, actually, in our conversation after the game, which felt really good for us,” said Tanin, a Loyola (Ill.) recruit. “When you can do something that well for your coach, one of the people that you’re playing for, it feels really good. I think because we put a lot of hard work into our practices from having that first loss against them, we know how hard we had to work and we still have to work hard to get to our goal, but I think he saw how good of a team we could be and I think that’s why he got a little emotional.”

After Memorial took a 44-40 lead midway through the second half on a three-point play by Penn State recruit Leilani Kapinus (22 points), the Cardinals put together an 11-3 run on a combination of inside and outside offense. Sophomore McKenna Monogue (14 points) scored inside and hit a three-pointer during the stretch.

But Memorial answered with a 10-0 run, using its high-pressure, full-court defense to force turnovers while converting on the other end.

Memorial senior Brooke Peters then hit a 3 to give the Spartans a 62-55 lead with 6:37 left. But the Cardinals didn’t fold.

“They’re mostly seniors. So I would expect that out of them.” Kind said. “They’ve been there before. They’ve been in atmospheres like this before. It was awesome.”

Middleton answered with seven straights points and tied it at 62 on a 3 by Monogue. After trading a few baskets, the game reached the 64-all mark, which is when Hodson buried the key three-pointer on a nifty pass from Tanin.

“I drove into the lane, made a fake pass across the lane – and we knew that fake passes could really get them moving – and then I turned back, saw her in the corner, dished it out to her, saw the ball go up and it was looking good.” Tanin said.

“I’m always confident with our 3 shooters in the corner and Mak’s a really good shooter. Seeing it go through, it just gives the team a different type of excitement and energy to go play defense and get another stop.”

The Cardinals were certainly energized, allowing just one field goal in the game’s final 4 minutes, 23 seconds en route to victory.

Fittingly, Tanin was there to secure the game’s final rebound in the closing seconds.

“I felt really determined to go after the ball and be scrappy,” Tanin said. “Scouting them from our last game their offensive rebounds got them a lot of points which we needed to stop.”


Jan. 31

Madison Memorial 34 34 — 68

Middleton 32 45 — 77

Madison Memorial — Peters 1 0-1 3, Kapinus 9 1-4 22, Rauwolf 2 0-0 5, Brown 2 0-0 5, Rankins 3 2-2 8, Sweet 4 2-2 13, White Eagle 1 0-0 2, Garcia 4 1-4 10. Totals 26 6-13 68.

Middleton — Lemirande 3 7-10 13, Hodson 1 0-0 3, Tanin 6 5-12 17, Roquet 3 5-12 11, Coleman 2 5-6 10, Bursac 3 0-0 6, Monogue 6 0-2 14, Smith 1 1-2 3. Totals 25 23-44 77.

3-point goals — MM 10 (Kapinus 3, Sweet 3, Peters 1, Rauwolf 1, Brown 1, Garcia 1); Mid 4 (Monogue 2, Hodson 1, Coleman 1). Total fouls — MM 27, Mid 14. Fouled out — Brown, White Eagle, Sweet, Garcia.

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