Sports

Wed
13
Mar
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Middleton boys basketball team stacked for 2014

For weeks, they all echoed largely the same thoughts.

Nothing is guaranteed. Tomorrow promises you nothing. There are zero things in life owed to you.

For having such perspective, Middleton’s boys basketball team deserves a great deal of credit.

With that being said, though, everyone around the Cardinals understands that the 2013-’14 season could be a banner one.

Middleton will bring back its top three scorers from this year’s team that went 14-11 and reached a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal. The Cardinals figure to welcome back six of the top seven players from their rotation and 10 total players that saw quality minutes this winter.

While the Cardinals have tried to stay grounded when talking about next season, they also realize it could be one of the better seasons in recent memory.

Wed
13
Mar
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Future bright for hockey Cardinals

 

The fact it ended was tough enough.

But when Middleton’s hockey team was eliminated from the postseason after a so-so effort, it made the ending even tougher.

“Mixed emotions,” Middleton co-coach Steve Libert said. “Because you want to go out playing your best and we did not have a peak performance.”

Still, Middleton’s season was a huge success.

After immense graduation losses from a year ago, few knew what to expect from the 2012-’13 Cardinals. But Middleton exceeded most expectations.

The Cardinals went 18-6 overall and finished second in the Big Eight Conference at 11-3. Middleton reached the WIAA sectional finals, before falling to Madison Edgewood, 3-2, in double overtime.

“One fantastic aspect about this year’s team was the diverse interests that they brought together in the locker room,” Libert said. “They all had respect for one another’s interests.”

The Cardinals will take some hits in graduation.

Wed
13
Mar
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Bunz named first-team all-Big Eight

There isn’t much Jake Bunz didn’t do for Middleton’s hockey team this year.

Score. Defend. Lead.

Bunz did it all.

Therefore, he was an easy pick as a first-team all-Big Eight Conference defenseman.

In addition to Bunz, Middleton sophomore goalie Max McConnell, senior defenseman Ethan McLeod and junior forward Jordan Carey were all named honorable-mention all-league.

Bunz was a unanimous selection to the first team, and it’s easy to see why.

Bunz led Middleton in points (29), goals (17) and finished seventh in the conference in scoring. Bunz was the only defenseman in the league to finish in the top-10 in scoring.

Bunz also was a finalist for the Davis Drewskie award, given to the top defenseman in the state of Wisconsin.

“It was pretty obvious that Jake was the top defenseman in the conference,” Middleton coach Steve Libert said.

Wed
06
Mar
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La Follette eliminates Middleton's girls

Middleton’s girls’ basketball team won’t be making its typical trip to state this season, but it certainly won’t be for a lack of effort.

Showing true grit and heart, the Cardinals battled back from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit only to drop a 73-62 decision in overtime to Madison La Follette in a WIAA Division 1 regional final last Saturday.

The loss ended Middleton’s run of five consecutive state tournament appearances.

“When we went down by nine, nobody was ready for the season to end and we were all trying to rally back,” said junior forward Liz McMahon, who led Middleton with 17 points. “Natalie (Staples) made some big free throws and we made some big stops on defense, but we just weren’t able to finish it off. We tried really hard and we left it all out there.”

Wed
06
Mar
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Middleton's girls top Madison West

Not this time.

That was the message Middleton’s girls basketball team delivered to Madison West — and Regents standout sophomore guard Ebony Nettles-Bey — during a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal last Friday.

Two weeks earlier, Nettles-Bey erupted for 30 points and West nearly pulled a stunning upset of the Cardinals.

This time, though, Nettles Bey was held to 16 points — just six in the second half — and Middleton cruised to a 54-36 win.

The Cardinals improved to 15-8, while West ended its year 8-15.

“We did a nice job defensively on Nettles-Bay,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “We tried to limit her touches vs. the press and make her give it up when she did get it. 

“She's still going to get some points, but we didn't let her get open looks in the lane like the previous game. Our guards, particularly Darcy Dean and Natalie Staples, really made things tough for her.”

Wed
06
Mar
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Skibba, Bakkar shine at state

They’ve been a dynamic duo for Middleton’s girls gymnastics team all season.

And last Friday was no different for Aryn Skibba and Bianca Bakkar.

Skibba, a junior, finished sixth in the all-around competition at the WIAA Division 1 individual state meet in Wisconsin Rapids with a sensational score of 37.317. Bakkar, a senior, placed ninth as an all-arounder with a dynamic score of 36.517.

“I am so proud of Aryn and Bianca,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said. “Between the two of them, a Middleton gymnast placed on every event in the individual competition. Only two other teams (Franklin Co-op and Burlington Co-op) could say that leaving Friday. 

“I think that's incredible and it says a lot about the depth of Middleton and the consistency of Aryn and Bianca. Even under stressful, high pressure situations such as Friday night individuals, they both shine.”

Skibba, who was fourth at state individually last year, had another banner meet.

Wed
06
Mar
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MHS girls gymnastics team 7th at state

 

This wasn’t an off day.

There was no disappointment, no dissatisfaction.

In fact, Middleton girls gymnastics coach Kari Steck isn’t sure why that question would even be asked.

Middleton went to the WIAA Division 1 state meet in Wisconsin Rapids last Saturday and finished seventh overall at the 10-team event. The Cardinals entered the meet ranked third in the state.

Middleton posted a solid score of 139.560. But that was more than one point less than the Cardinals averaged at the Big Eight Conference meet and the Waunakee Sectional.

But Steck insisted her team had no displeasure with seventh place.

“It was not an off day for the team,” Steck said. “I'm not sure why you ask? Competition at the state meet is good and tough, as it should be. We were happy to be there, and the girls did their best. I am very proud of them. 

Fri
01
Mar
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Memorial ends Middleton's season

WATERTOWN — The locker room was virtually empty now.

Middleton boys basketball coach Kevin Bavery had spoken to his team for 30 minutes. He spent another 20 minutes talking to the local media.

With the recorders off and the players gone, the reality that Middleton’s surprising season had come to an end had now fully registered.

“Damn,” Bavery said. “Damn.”

And really, not much more needed to be said.

In a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal Thursday night, Madison Memorial got the best of Middleton for a 20th straight time. The Spartans erased an early 17-6 deficit, played stifling defense the rest of the way, and downed the Cardinals, 59-49.

Middleton, which hasn’t defeated Memorial since Feb. 3, 2005, ended its year 14-11. Memorial improved to 21-4 and will face Mukwonago (21-4) Saturday in search of its 10th straight trip to state.

Tue
26
Feb
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Climb of the Cards continues

SUN PRAIRIE — For months now, people have been talking about the potential greatness of next year's Middleton boys basketball team.

The Cardinals appreciated the compliment, except for one thing.

“That’s all great,” junior forward Max Oelerich said. “But we know that nothing’s guaranteed. So we’re talking about now.”

And playing for today, as well.

Last Saturday, Middleton showed that its present might be as promising as its future. Fourth-seeded Middleton went into top-seeded Sun Prairie and played arguably its best game of the year in a WIAA Division 1 regional final.

Middleton’s gritty-gutty point guard Luke Schafer had 21 points, junior guard Derek Rongstad added 15, and the visitors held off a late Sun Prairie surge to notch a thrilling 75-64 win.

“You never know what will happen between now and next year,” Rongstad said. “Nothing is ever guaranteed.

Tue
26
Feb
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Cain exits in style

It was Saturday morning, and Jake Cain’s dream of becoming a state champion had ended.

Middleton’s standout wrestler had dropped a heartbreaker to Bay Port’s Alex Blaney in the WIAA Division 1 state semifinals just 15 hours earlier.

But the 138-pound Cain did what he always does. He put on his hard hat, went back to work and wrestled his tail off.

Cain returned to the UW Kohl Center Saturday, won a pair of matches, and notched third place. That was the highest finish at state by a Middleton wrestler since Ben Brummel won a state title in 2009.

“I mean, sure, I was really bummed about not being able to achieve my goal,” Cain said of missing out on a state title. “But when Saturday rolled around, I tried not to think about it as much. I knew I could still get third and I wanted to finish the season on a high note.”

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