Middleton races past Parker

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Bria Lemirande scored 29 points in Middleton's win over Janesville Parker in Saturday night's regional final./File photo

The lead — once as high as 12 points — was gone now.

Janesville Parker was smelling an upset. Heavily favored Middleton was trying to regroup.

So the Cardinals turned to their gifted veterans, who delivered in a big way.

Middleton defeated Janesville Parker, 92-74, in a WIAA Division 1 regional final Saturday night at Middleton High School. And the Cardinals’ most experienced players keyed the win.

Parker opened the second half on a 6-0 run to tie the game, 40-40. But over the final 16 minutes, juniors Bria Lemirande, Alexis Thomas and Alyssa Lemirande combined for 39 points to lead the Cardinals to an impressive win.

“In these games, especially playoffs … I think it’s important for the people that are returners to just kind of step up,” Bria Lemirande said. “We need to be leaders, in this kind of game especially.”

They were.

Bria Lemirande had a huge game with 29 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and three assists.

“She’s pretty special,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said of Bria Lemirande. “Look at her stats for the year. She leads us in scoring, she leads us in steals, she leads us in rebounds, assists.”

Thomas added 21 points and Alyssa Lemirande finished with 17 points. Parker freshman center Julia Hartwig had 20 points and 16 rebounds, while senior forward Bria Porter added 19 points and eight rebounds.

Middleton (21-3) advanced to a sectional semifinal against Janesville Craig (18-6) Thursday at 7 p.m. at Madison La Follette. If the Cardinals win there, they’ll advance to the sectional finals March 6.

“I know we all know how to play the game,” Thomas said. “But you just have to take control when the game gets close like that by just running our offense and doing what we do best.”

The Cardinals did exactly that.

Middleton raced to a 24-12 lead with 7:10 left in the first half. But the Vikings fought back within 40-34 by halftime, and evened things up in the first 2 minutes of the second half.

In just more than a minute, though, Middleton regained control.

First, Bria Lemirande knocked down a big three-pointer. After a Parker basket, Thomas had a driving lay-up, then Alyssa Lemirande drilled a three-pointer of her own.

Middleton quickly had a 48-42 lead and never trailed again.

“I think that was the start of us just separating from them again,” Bria Lemirande said. “They definitely started out the second half really strong and it took us a little while to get back in the mojo and realize that we need to want it more than them.”

Kind agreed.

“Veteran players,” Kind said of his trio. “Veteran players make plays. That was nice.”

The rest of the half wasn’t too shabby either. Middleton used its speed and skill in transition to gradually pull away from the Vikings.

The Cardinals shot 17-of-36 from the floor in the second half (47.2%), getting many of their points by simply beating the Vikings up and down the court. Middleton, which enjoys turning the game into a track meet, was able to get the pace of play to its liking.

“Really the big thing is they just kept going for layups, right hand layups,” Parker coach Jennah Hartwig said. “We struggled to stop the right hand layup.”

Parker was within 48-46 when Middleton used a 12-4 burst to grab a 60-50 lead with 12:10 left. Alyssa Lemirande keyed that run with six points.

Middleton’s lead was still 10 at 72-62 with 6:46 left. But the Cardinals blitzed the Vikings with a 14-3 run to take an 86-65 lead.

Thomas had six points during that burst, while Bria Lemirande added four. And that run took the speedy Cardinals just 3 ½ minutes.

“At the beginning of the season, our speed was our strength and we kind of lost it in the middle of the season and we finally picked it back up,” Thomas said. “And that’s a major help for us.”

Middleton also took full advantage of Parker’s defensive approach, as well.

The Cardinals have seen almost entirely zone defenses since Christmas. And when Middleton defeated Parker, 84-74, in overtime on Jan. 15, the Vikings played predominantly zone.

Parker opened in zone against Middleton again. But when the Cardinals raced to a fast start, Hartwig abandoned the zone and stayed man-to-man the rest of the game.

“We just got into such a hole that I was like, ‘We have to come out of it,’ ” Hartwig said of the zone. “We ended up going to man because we were down. I probably should have gone back to zone, but our feet were a little slow tonight.”

After two-plus months of trying to attack zone defenses, Kind and the Cardinals were happy to see a different look.

“We got off to a good start and got them out of that zone,” Kind said. “And it’s kind of like, when they had to go man-to-man, it was a lay-up fest for us. We weren’t shooting the three very well tonight. But there wasn’t much they could do to stop us when they were in the man-to-man.”

Middleton averaged a whopping 89.0 points while going 3-0 against Parker this season. And the Cardinals proved again Saturday their speed — and savvy veterans — are both extremely dangerous weapons moving forward.

“We had a lot of fast breaks on them, and getting up and down the court is really our strength,” Bria Lemirande said. “That was like our best game against them. They left the lane open, and that really helped us get into the paint.

“I think the difference was just how fast we were going compared to how they were moving.”

And now, Middleton’s moving on.

 

Feb. 27

WIAA Division 1 regional final

Middleton 92, Janesville Parker 74

Janesville Parker ……………… 34  40 — 74

Middleton …………………….. 40  52 — 92

JANESVILLE PARKER — Blaser 9, Benway 2, Porter 19, Fleming 9, Foster 14, Naber 1, Hartwig 20. Totals: 26 18-30 74.

MIDDLETON — A. Lemirande 17, Hibner 3, Thomas 21, Staples 3, Flottmeyer 3, B. Lemirande 29, C. Lemirande 7, White 9. Totals: 31 21-36 92.

Three-point goals — JP 4 (Porter 2, Fleming 2), Middleton 9 (B. Lemirande 4, A. Lemirande 2, Hibner, C. Lemirande, Staples). Total fouls — JP 25, Mi 21. Fouled out —Foster, Fleming.

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