Three's company at MHS

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Triplets (from left) Alyssa Lemirande, Carlee Lemirande and Bria Lemirande are hoping to lead Middleton’s girls basketball team to a state title./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The Lemirande sisters felt things slipping away.

Middleton’s girls basketball team was playing Janesville Craig in the 2015 WIAA Division 1 sectional finals. And with the Cardinals in a 48-39 hole early in the fourth quarter, Alyssa Lemirande looked at her sister Bria, then took her tongue and touched it to her nose.

Perhaps the only other person to notice that day was Carlee Lemirande — the third of the Lemirande triplets. But when Alyssa gave the signal, it was “go time.”

“We had a signal to each other that year where if the team was doing bad, we just needed to pick it up and get things done,” Bria Lemirande said. “And so we made up a signal to touch our tongue to our nose.

“And when we made that signal to each other it meant we had to do something. Just get the game moving.”

Maybe it was the signal. Maybe talent simply ruled the day.

But the Cardinals immediately went on a 21-3 run, eventually toppled the Cougars, 66-57, and reached the state tournament.

It’s little things like this that have helped the Lemirande’s develop a unique chemistry on the court. And that harmony has been a big reason for Middleton’s success during the Lemirande-era.

All three Lemirandes are seniors now. Bria made the varsity as a freshman, while Alyssa and Carlee came up as sophomores.

Over the last three seasons — when all three Lemirande’s have played varsity together — Middleton is 56-10 overall (.848). This year, the Cardinals are 13-1, lead the Big Eight Conference by a game and are ranked No. 5 in the state by wissports.net.

Yes, the Cardinals have been blessed with a bevy of terrific players in that time. But the Lemirande’s have been key figures in Middleton’s stellar play.

“The Lems have each been great contributors to the program over the last four years,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “The three of them have each developed and contributed greatly to the team in their own ways. They each have uniquely different personalities and skills that have helped build a sound foundation to our teams over the past four years.”

 

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Alyssa was the first Lemirande to enter the world. Bria came second and Carlee was third.

“A-B-C,” Alyssa says.

But Bria was the first to gravitate to basketball.

Bria remembers being 5 years old and dribbling everywhere she possibly could.

“I got it from the start,” Bria said. “I think I liked it the most and put in a little more work. I worked with my Dad (Tim) all the time.”

It certainly paid off.

Bria became Middleton’s starting point guard five games into her freshman season. And in the time since, she’s become one of the top guards in the state.

Bria is dynamic with the ball in her hands, a deadly outside shooter and a fearless competitor.

Bria leads Middleton in scoring (14.6) and assists this year and recently crossed the 1,000-point barrier. And Bria will finish her Middleton career as the second-leading scorer in school history, behind only former Cardinal great Angie (Halbleib) Murphy.

“Each year Bria’s production and leadership on the floor have increased,” Kind said. “She has been incredibly consistent and reliable

“Beyond that, she has been a joy to coach and a great teammate. Despite being pretty quiet in her demeanor, she is a fierce competitor and almost unflappable on the court.  Her expression rarely changes on the court, ahead or behind, good call or bad, and she has an uncanny ability to come up with big plays at big times.”

 

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Alyssa fell in love with basketball in the sixth grade, the year when her class won the state tournament.

Alyssa joined the varsity at the start of her sophomore year and has been like the “Energizer Bunny” ever since.

Alyssa is a sensational on-ball defender and typically guards the opponent’s top ball handler. Alyssa is nifty maneuvering her way to the basket, is deadly in transition and a solid outside shooter, as well.

After averaging 8.4 points per game as a sophomore, Alyssa averaged 11.6 last year and is at 11.1 this season. For the last two years, Alyssa and Bria have formed one of the top backcourts you’ll find.

“Alyssa has developed into a great on ball defender and relishes guarding the opponents’ best ball-handlers,” Kind said. “She's great at getting to the basket and scoring in the paint, despite her unassuming stature.

“Her personality is quiet and introverted, but she too is a fierce competitor and one of the hardest workers I've ever coached. She leads by example every time we practice.”

 

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It wasn’t until the eighth grade when Carlee went “all-in” on basketball. But Carlee has been a quick study and become a key cog in the Cardinals’ machine the last two years.

“The biggest thing about Carlee is she’s probably the hardest worker,” Alyssa said of her sister. “She maybe wasn’t always the best of the three, but she never gave up.”

Carlee joined the varsity late in her sophomore season. And in the time since, she’s become one of Middleton’s deadliest shooters while developing her all-around game, as well.

Carlee, the tallest of the three at 5-foot-10, became a starter this season — meaning the Lemirande’s constitute 60% of Middleton’s starting lineup. And after averaging 9.3 points per game last year, Carlee is averaging 7.2 points this season.

“Carlee is probably the most extroverted of the three and keeps everyone loose, in addition to being the team communications person,” Kind said. “She has become more and more of a complete player over the last two years and continues to improve. Her outgoing personality and attitude has been a wonderful complement to the other two and an important component of the entire team.”

 

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The Lemirande’s are an extremely close group who are almost inseparable on and off the court. After spending their days together at MHS and practicing after school, the trio then hangs out most nights at home.

“It’s just always fun,” Carlee said. “We’re all best friends. You think you’re going to go to your room, but another one comes and joins.”

While all three have a girl-next door quality, they agree that Alyssa is probably the nicest of the three.

“She’s super laughy and doesn't have a mean side at all,” Bria said of Alyssa. “She’s so sweet and bubbly.”

Bria is funny, outgoing, sarcastic and perhaps the most protective of the three. All three are stellar students, but school probably came easiest to Bria.

“Bria is just super nice and always looking out for you,” Carlee said. “She’s protective of all of us, like the Mom of all of us. She wants to make sure we’re all OK all the time. But she’s so funny and always cracking jokes, too.”

Alyssa calls Carlee a “sweetheart” and all agree she’s the most outgoing of the three.

“Carlee’s also very interesting,” Bria said. “Sometimes she’ll just say things and you’ll be like, ‘Oh. I didn’t think of it that way.’ ”

While the three spend oodles of time together, they each have their own interests, as well.

Bria loves watching the cooking channel. Alyssa is addicted to puzzles and can rarely get her sisters to join in. And Carlee likes to online shop.

All things being equal, though, they’d rather be together — which is why all three are trying to savor their final weeks together on the basketball court.

“It’s been awesome,” Bria said of playing with her sisters. “I can’t imagine not playing with them next year. I don’t even want to think about it.”

 

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For now, the Lemirande’s don’t have to think about life after MHS. Instead, they’re all focused on the same goal — bringing Middleton its first-ever state championship.

The Cardinals have been to the state tournament nine times under Kind and finished second three times. But Middleton has never hoisted a gold ball.

Then again, the Cardinals have never had a trio like the Lemirande’s.

“That just gives us more motivation to win,” Alyssa said. “I can’t imagine a better ending.”

Carlee agreed with her sister.

“We’re trying not to let all of that get in our heads too much,” she said. “We’re just trying to get better every practice, because we don’t have many left. But we all think that winning state is a possibility.”

A year from now, the Lemirande’s could easily be in different places.

Bria has drawn interest from Northern Michigan and Roosevelt University (Ill.), among others, and would like to pursue a career in the medical field.

Alyssa is considering playing at Edgewood College and hopes to be a teacher. Carlee is considering a number of schools and wants to study nutrition.

Until then, though, the Lemirande’s hope to cap off their memorable careers in style.

“I look at it like we have so much potential,” Bria said. “We just need to play every game like we’re the underdogs and we have so much better of a chance.

“We’re good and we know this is a good team. But we won’t be satisfied until we win the whole thing. That would be amazing.”

Much like the Lemirande sisters.

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