MHS girls are champions again

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Bria Lemirande and Middleton's girls basketball team clinched a share of the Big Eight Conference title last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

In the past month, they’ve been overlooked, disregarded and largely forgotten about.

But Middleton’s girls basketball team delivered a loud and authoritative message last Saturday.

In defeating host Madison East, 84-82, and clinching a share of the Big Eight Conference title, the Cardinals told the basketball world, ‘We’re Still Here.’

Middleton (19-3 overall) shared the league title with Sun Prairie at 16-2. Madison East (16-5, 14-4) settled for third.

“Coach is always reminding our team to play with passion and with our hearts,” Middleton senior wing Alexis Thomas said. “And lately, after some our previous games, we kind of had a reality check and realized that we can go far and be really good if we play with those things and have a good mentality.”

Middleton clinched a league title for the second straight year and the ninth time in 11 seasons. The Cardinals also overcame a rough patch that saw them drop three of six games after opening the year 13-0.

“It was a satisfying victory for a number of reasons,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “First, they are a very good team that has been playing very well.

“It gives us a share of the conference title, which represents the accomplishment of one of our team goals. And it gives us some momentum heading into the postseason.”

Senior guard Bria Lemirande led the Cardinals with 24 points, while senior guard Alyssa Lemirande added 21. Thomas scored 15 and sophomore Charlotte Dunn chipped in nine.

East got 22 points from Justice Filip and 21 from Auburn recruit Erin Howard.

Middleton used a remarkable 23-0 run midway through the first half to build a 26-10 lead. The Cardinals then held on for dear life over the final 25 minutes.

East got a three-pointer from Howard at the halftime buzzer to complete a 17-8 run that pulled the Purgolders within 34-27 at the break.

Middleton’s lead was still 66-55 with 7 minutes left when East embarked on a 10-4 run and closed within 70-65 with 3:56 remaining.

The Cardinals’ lead was 83-78 with 22.3 seconds left. But East forced consecutive turnovers, converted both and pulled within 83-82 with 6.1 seconds left.

But Middleton added a free throw and held on for one of its biggest wins if the year.

“We were in a pretty big slump at the end of conference play, but I'm confident that we are getting out of that and starting to get back into the swing of how we play again,” Bria Lemirande said. “It just took some more focus, energy, and hard work in practice from everyone.”

Thomas agreed. 

“It definitely meant a whole lot for all us to share a conference title,” Thomas said. “Sharing it is a lot better and more exciting than not winning it at all.

“We had been working very hard lately for this game, while keeping in mind it was for the conference title. Right before we headed out to the court the last thing we talked about was to give it our all because this was to share the conference title and from here on out no games are guaranteed. We were all extremely happy when we came into the locker room and I’m so proud of how the team played!”

In late January, East went to Middleton and handed the Cardinals their first loss of the year, 75-63. That started a stretch in which Middleton lost three of six games and was left for dead by many.

But the Cardinals have won three straight games and five of six since. And as Middleton showed against East, many of the things that plagued it during its slide might now be corrected.

“We were able to prevent a lot of the breakout layups we gave up to East in the first game,” Kind said. “We got to the offensive boards better, and overall did a better job defensively.

“That said, they shot extremely well and we had to really scrap to pull out the win. We allowed them to get back into the game, but made enough plays to hold them off.”

Middleton now opens the postseason Friday when it hosts Madison La Follette at 7 p.m. in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal. If the fourth-seeded Cardinals win there, they’ll host a regional final Saturday at 7 p.m. against either fifth-seeded Verona or 12th-seeded Janesville Parker.

The sectional semifinals are March 2 and the sectional finals are March 4.

“There are still some kinks to work on, but I feel like we're in a pretty good spot heading down the stretch,” Kind said.

Thomas agreed, and the Cardinals believe they’re now well positioned to make a run at the 10th state trip in school history and the ninth since 2001.

“The past few weeks we have definitely improved as a team and have been playing with a lot more passion and aggression,” Thomas said. “And when we’re smart on the offensive end and play tough defense, we can be really good.

“Right now, it's ‘Go Time’ and we’re all up to working extremely hard and hopefully make it to the farthest point possible. Our goal is to keep working one day at a time and to just keep improving as a whole. Time will fly and we don’t want to regret a single thing out there during the postseason!”


Feb. 18

Middleton 84, Madison East 82

Middleton …………………… 34 50 — 84

Madison East ……………….. 27 55 — 82

MIDDLETON — A. Lemirande 10 0-0 21, B. Lemirande 9 4-7 24, Bursac 1 0-0 2, C. Dunn 2 5-6 9, C. Lemirande 3 0-0 7, Flottmeyer 2 0-3 4, Thomas 5 2-5 15, White 1 0-0 2. Totals 33 11-21 84.

MADISON EAST — A. Conners 2 2-2 6, Filip 6 5-6 22, Howard 7 3-4 21, J. Conners 4 6-7 15, Kruser 3 0-1 6, Larson 2 2-2 6, Moseberry 2 1-2 6. Totals 26 19-24 82.

3-point goals — MID 7 (A. Lemirande 1, B. Lemirande 2, C. Lemirande 1, Thomas 3), ME 10 (Filip 5, Howard 3, J. Conners 1, Moseberry 1). Total fouls — MID 18, ME 19.


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