Sports

Sat
27
Jan
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Finnel named Coach of the Year

Brian Finnel wanted a state championship.

Middleton’s boys cross country coach got exactly that, when the Cardinals won a state title in October. Then Finnel — and Middleton’s entire program — got a little bit more.

Finnel was recently named Wisconsin’s Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

One boys’ coach and one girls’ coach from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia were honored for their successes during the fall of 2017, as selected by a committee of experts from around the nation. Dodgeland’s Barry Smanz was the girls’ winner in Wisconsin.

The winners from each state are now in consideration for the association’s National High School Cross Country Coach of the Year award. One boys coach and one girls’ coach from all of the states will be selected by a panel of experts and be announced later this month as the national winners.

Fri
19
Jan
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MHS loses heartbreaker to Memorial

Middleton boys basketball coach Kevin Bavery might have summed it up best when discussing the Cardinals’ rivalry with Madison Memorial.

“There is a curse, a ghost, a poltergeist … something,” Bavery said.

Yes, strange things most certainly happen to Middleton when it meets Memorial. And last Saturday was no different.

Middleton rallied from an 11-point, second half deficit and took a one-point lead with 59 seconds left on a pair of Alan Roden free throws. Memorial reclaimed the lead with two free throws of its own, and the Cardinals had one final chance to escape victorious.

Senior forward Davis Roquet missed a three-pointer in the closing seconds, but junior guard Sam Close grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 0.6 seconds left. The sharp-shooting Close — a 91% free throw shooter — missed both foul shots, though, and Memorial prevailed, 42-41.

Fri
19
Jan
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Boys basketball team downs East

Kevin Bavery knows full well how loud, raucous and intimidating things can get at Madison East.

So 24 hours before heading to Purgolder Country, Middleton’s boys basketball coach blasted music through the Cardinals’ practice.

Sure enough, East’s archaic gymnasium was deafening last Thursday, as the Purgolders erased a nine-point second half deficit and pulled even at 46-46.

But the Cardinals were prepared for the noise — and quickly silenced it.

Middleton finished the game on a stunning 24-6 burst and quieted both the Purgolders and the crowd after an impressive 70-52 win.

The Cardinals improved to 7-5 overall and finished the first half of Big Eight Conference play with a 6-3 mark. East fell to 6-5, 4-4.

Fri
19
Jan
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Girls basketball team wins sixth straight

With stellar play on both ends of the court, Sitori Tannin provided just the spark Middleton’s girls basketball team needed.

Down by one point late, the sophomore scored on back-to-back possessions, then blocked a shot to help the Cardinals regain control and rally for an impressive 52-45 Big Eight Conference victory over rival Madison Memorial last Friday night.

“When it’s getting intense, I’ve got to go out there do my thing and get stuff done for the team,” said Tannin, who also blocked another Memorial shot down the stretch. “When we were down by one, it was like, ‘I’ve just got to get out there and get us some baskets and get us back up again.’

“I always try to step up my defense and my offense when it gets down (toward the end), but I’m trying to keep that throughout the whole game. I know, when coach needs me, I’m going to go in there do my thing.”

Thu
11
Jan
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Middleton rallies past Arrowhead

MILWAUKEE — Kevin Bavery faces a quandary every season.

Middleton’s boys basketball coach has just four non-conference games to work with each year. And after playing 18 games in the demanding Big Eight Conference, Bavery toys with the idea of scheduling lesser opponents to boost the Cardinals’ record and give his team an occasional break.

Inevitably, though, Bavery resists that urge and tries putting together the most demanding schedule possible for his team. Bavery’s belief is those games better prepare a team for the postseason than scheduling softer foes.

Middleton’s latest match-up on murderer’s row came Saturday, when the Cardinals met defending WIAA Division 1 state runner-up Hartland Arrowhead. Senior forward Brogan Brunker had a game-high 18 points and the Cardinals notched an extremely impressive 58-55 win over Arrowhead in a game played at the Al McGuire Center.

Thu
11
Jan
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Boys basketball team hammers Beloit

2018 started with a bang for Middleton’s boys basketball team.

The Cardinals took care of business in their first game of the new year, defeating Beloit Memorial, 78-53, in a Big Eight Conference game last Friday.

Middleton improved to 5-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big Eight. The Purple Knights fell to 3-8, 2-5.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Cardinals. Those three losses came against teams with a combined 21-5 record.  

“This game is one we needed,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “We were 4-3 in the league (coming in), with a lot of close games on both ends. We’ve been able to handle a couple of opponents that we felt we were a little bit better than. I think a lot of that was the case tonight.”

Thu
04
Jan
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Girls basketball team picking up steam

FRANKLIN — Health, happiness and prosperity.

These are wishes many have for the New Year.

Middleton’s girls basketball team is now finally healthy for the first time this season. Perhaps happiness and prosperity are soon to follow.

The Cardinals welcomed senior forward Claire Staples — who had been sidelined the past five weeks with a high ankle sprain — back to the lineup last week. And with Staples back in the fold, a young and inexperienced Middleton team once again has a branch of consistency to hold onto.

The Cardinals went to the Franklin Tournament and won two out of three games.

Middleton dropped an 80-67 decision to Germantown in last Wednesday’s opening round. But the Cardinals rebounded with a 76-46 win over Racine Case on Thursday and a 66-43 victory over Kenosha St. Joseph on Friday.

Mon
01
Jan
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Middleton's Top 10 sports moments of 2017

The years pass and the athletes change.

But things seem to stay the same when it comes to athletics at Middleton High School.

Conference championships are par for the course. State titles are commonplace throughout the athletic department.

It was more of the same in 2017 for one of the elite athletic programs in the state.

Here’s one person’s opinion of the top-10 Middleton sports stories of 2017.

 

1. Girls swimmers enjoy sweet repeat

After completing a thoroughly dominant season, Middleton’s girls swimming and diving team found itself in the unfamiliar role of underdog heading into the WIAA Division 1 state meet in early November.

According to a pre-race “mock meet” based on seedings from sectionals, Middleton was tabbed to finish second at meet, something that didn’t sit well with the Cardinals.

Fri
22
Dec
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Gymnasts gunning for a big year

Their numbers are large.

Their talent is impressive.

And their goals are sizeable.

Middleton’s girls gymnastics team began its season last Thursday with an impressive win over host Sun Prairie. And if first impressions are indeed the most telling, this could be another special season for Middleton’s gymnasts.

“As always, the goal is for a healthy and memorable season,” said Middleton coach Kari Steck, who has a team of 27 gymnasts, the largest in school history. “If a conference and/or sectional championship comes with that, we will be grateful. But that will only come with hard work and dedication, both of which this team has the potential for.”

Middleton lost one of the state’s elite gymnasts to graduation in Madeline Pflasterer-Jennerjohn. But Steck is optimistic she’ll have plenty of candidates to help fill that gigantic departure.

Thu
21
Dec
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Middleton girls edge Parker

Four weeks into the season, Jeff Kind knew a change was necessary.

Middleton’s girls basketball coach said good-bye to the run-and-gun style that has defined the Cardinals for years. Instead, Kind and the Cardinals downshifted a few gears from fifth.

The result? Middleton has begun playing far better basketball.

The Cardinals went to Janesville Parker and upended the Vikings, 57-53, last Friday. Middleton also dropped a 66-62 double overtime decision to Division 2 power Monroe last Tuesday.

The Cardinals are now 3-4 overall and 3-3 in the Big Eight Conference.

“We had to get the fundamentals down before we crank things back up again,” Kind said. “This gives us our best chance. It does. It gets a little crazy for these youngsters with kids flying all over the place.”

Things got a little crazy for the Cardinals in their win over Parker. The good news for Middleton is it didn't blink.

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