Sports

Thu
08
Feb
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Swimmers third at conference meet

Many expected the Big Eight Conference boys swimming and diving meet to be a lopsided affair dominated by Madison West.

The powerful Regents did win the meet held Feb. 3 at Beloit Memorial High School. But it was anything but lopsided.

Both Madison Memorial and Middleton made the Regents sweat, before West prevailed in a thrilling affair.

The Regents won the meet with 597 points, while Madison Memorial was second at 542.5. Middleton finished third with 514.5 points, while Verona-Mount Horeb (208) and Sun Prairie (182) rounded out the top five.

“Everyone was pretty confident West was going to run away with the meet, so it was fun that it was close between us, Memorial, and West,” Middleton coach Danny Lynam said. “At the end of the day you have to hand it to Memorial that they came in and earned that second place. They worked hard for it. We certainly look forward to racing them again next weekend.”

Thu
08
Feb
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Wrestlers third at Big 8 meet

Kent Weiler has been around the sport of wrestling a long time.

Weiler was a standout on the mats three decades ago. And Weiler has been Middleton’s wrestling coach since 2005.

So when Weiler utters the following words, you listen closely.

“In all my years, that was the best high school match I’ve ever been a part of,” Weiler said of the Big Eight Conference meet held at Madison La Follette on Feb. 3.

Few would argue with Weiler.

There was drama, intrigue, suspense and tension.

In the end, upstart Janesville Craig won the conference title with 228 points. Sun Prairie was a close second with 221, while Middleton was third at 220.

“All day long I kept telling them, ‘Someone’s got to win a match you’re not supposed to,’ ” Weiler said. “We came up just a little short of that.”

Thu
08
Feb
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Girls basketball team holds off Verona

The ball hung in the air for a second, maybe two.

But to Middleton’s girls basketball team, it felt like a decade.

The Cardinals, mired in a two-game losing streak, were desperate for a win against Verona on Feb. 1. Middleton was clinging to a 45-42 lead with three seconds left, when Wildcats’ leading scorer Chandler Bainbridge got a clean look at a three-pointer from the left corner.

As Bainbridge’s shot crept closer to the rim, most of the Cardinals had the same thought.

“I was very nervous,” Middleton sophomore forward Karina Bursac said.

Much to Middleton’s delight, Bainbridge’s shot clanged off the iron. Verona’s Katie Pederson rebounded and missed a two-pointer at the horn and the Cardinals escaped with a 45-42 win.

Middleton improved to 11-7 overall and moved into third place in the Big Eight Conference at 9-5. Verona fell to 8-10 overall and slipped to fifth in the league at 8-6.

Thu
08
Feb
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Boys basketball team drills Verona

They’re back.

One week after suffering one of its worst losses of the season, Middleton’s boys basketball team bounced back by routing Verona, 64-29, in a Big Eight Conference game on Feb. 2.

“I really expected a pretty close game tonight,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “We established right away that we were going to go inside with it. Our guys did a nice job. The timing was there and the post moves were pretty quick.”

The Cardinals were especially sharp on both ends of the court in the first half, connecting on 7-of-11 three-pointers and limiting the Wildcats to just 14 points.

“It’s fun when everything works,” Bavery said.

The Cardinals improved to 10-8 overall and 8-6 in the Big Eight Conference. Verona dropped to 9-8 and 6-8.

Fri
02
Feb
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Sun Prairie rolls past Middleton girls

Middleton’s girls basketball team faced a tough test Tuesday night, squaring off against powerhouse and Big Eight Conference leader Sun Prairie.

After all was said and done, third-ranked Sun Prairie reminded everyone why it is not only the best team in the the Big Eight, but also one of the best teams in the state.

It was a tale of two halves, as Middleton gave Sun Prairie a first half scare and led at intermission, 25-22. But visiting Sun Prairie capitalized on Middleton turnovers, dominated the second half and rolled to a 58-38 win.

Middleton dropped to 10-7 overall and 8-5 in the Big Eight, while Sun Prairie improved to 15-1 overall and 12-0 in the Big Eight.

“They are a tough team,” said Middleton head coach Jeff Kind. “We played a decent first half, we hung with them in the first half. We just didn’t match their energy in the second half.”

Sat
27
Jan
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Boys basketball team tops Marquette

BROOKFIELD — Middleton’s boys basketball team was living the dream last Saturday afternoon.

The Cardinals had just toppled Milwaukee Marquette, 60-54, at the Luke Homan Memorial Showcase held at Brookfield Central. And as a reward, Middleton was headed to Kopp’s — one of its favorite restaurant’s in the area.

Just one problem. When the Cardinals returned, they discovered their bus had broken down.

“What are you going do?” asked Middleton coach Kevin Bavery.

Well, adjust for one. And the Cardinals proved throughout the day that’s something they were pretty good at.

Middleton’s win over the Hilltoppers came with leading scorer and likely first-team all-Big Eight Conference player Brogan Brunker sidelined with a sprained ankle.

Sat
27
Jan
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Gymnasts win Southwestern Invite

Kari Steck is always positive and full of optimism.

So when Steck raves about her girls gymnastics team at Middleton High School — as she inevitably will — you’re never quite sure if it’s the whole truth or not.

Turns out when it comes to Steck’s enthusiasm this year, there’s not one iota of fake news.

Middleton finished first among Division 1 schools at the Southwestern/Cuba City/Benton Invite last Saturday.

Middleton finished with 138.55 points, while Mount Horeb was second at 133.30. Holmen was third (132.875), Platteville/Belmont/Lancaster was fourth (125.675) and Reedsburg was fifth (107.475).

Making the day ever sweeter for Steck was the meet was held at Southwestern High School — her alma mater.

“Saturday brought one of my favorite invites at my old high school,” Steck said. “We were expecting a good meet, but a (138.55) exceeded our expectations. The girls hit their routines, and it paid off.”

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.

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