Girls basketball team hopes to reload

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Rob Reischel
Claire Staples and Middleton's girls basketball team have high hopes this season./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Jeff Kind has never shied away from a challenge.

It’s one of the big reasons Middleton’s girls basketball coach ranks eighth in state history in career victories with a 563-249 record (.693).

It’s also a big reason the Cardinals have become one of the state’s elite programs, reaching the WIAA Division 1 state tournament seven times since 2008 and nine times this century.

But Kind and his Cardinals have an awfully big challenge this year.

Middleton must replace four starters — triplets Bria, Alyssa and Carlee Lemirande, along with Alexis Thomas — that accounted for more than 60.0% of the Cardinals’ points last season. That quartet also helped Middleton go 86-17 and win three Big Eight Conference titles over the last four years.

When Middleton begins its season Friday with a home game against Madison Memorial, it will have several new — albeit gifted — players in its lineup.

“I am excited for this team,” Kind said Tuesday. “I think it’s a great challenge for us to try to replace the players we lost and it’s going to be fun to see who steps in to fill all the new roles on the team. But that's what makes high school sports so much fun!”

Kind’s toughest challenge figures to be replacing Bria Lemirande. The four-year starting point guard finished as Middleton’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,223 points, collected more that 500 career rebounds, had more than 350 career assists and 250 career steals.

Middleton’s two most experienced returnees are senior post Halle White and senior forward Claire Staples.

White, a four-year varsity player, is the Cardinals’ lone returning starter and averaged 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds last year. Staples, who was typically Middleton’s first substitute last year, averaged 5.3 points per game a year ago.

“Claire and Halle have the most experience of our returners,” Kind said. “I expect them to develop into leadership roles.”

Junior post Hannah Flottmeyer (4.3 ppg, 3.5 ppg) and junior guard/forward Charlotte Dunn (4.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg) could both emerge as big-time players. Senior guard Tavi Tanin (3.3 ppg) had flashes of brilliance last year, while sophomore forward Karina Bursac has immense potential.

Kind also has high hopes for senior guard/forward Christina Schauer, senior guard Haley Dunn, and gifted sophomores Josie Lemirande, Sitori Tanin, Evie Coleman, Kendall Roquet and Megan Schwartz.

“I don't know where all of this is going to lead as far as scoring, defense, etc.,” Kind said. “But we are probably as deep as we've ever been.

“I feel comfortable with all 13 on my roster, so we’ll just have to wait and see who responds to their opportunities. We will be able to play our same style with fast rotating shifts and I expect that our shifts will be more balanced this year with both teams having more balanced overall scoring ability. Who takes advantage of that is yet to be seen.”

Madison East and Sun Prairie are the conference favorites. But history has shown it’s foolish to ever count Middleton out.

Despite several newcomers, the Cardinals have a deep and gifted roster. The key will be establishing roles, finding leaders and eventually replacing one of the better senior classes in recent memory.

“I think the strength of the team will ultimately be its depth,” Kind said. “If we can get them to buy into our all-out style of pressure and fast pace I think we can be successful. 

“Our weakness might be that we have yet to figure out who our best ball-handlers, scorers and defenders are. There hasn’t been a lot of separation between individuals yet. I am very happy that everyone has shown flashes of what they can do, but now they have to exhibit some consistency in game situations. It should be an exciting year!”


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