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Middleton survives, advances to sectionals

His best player had just fouled out of the game.

Visiting Janesville Craig had pulled even for just second time in the second half. And suddenly, Middleton’s boys basketball season was dangerously close to being over.

So, was Cardinals’ head coach Kevin Bavery worried?

“Yeah,” Bavery admitted. “Yeah, I was.”

The veteran Cardinals, though, made a bevy of key plays down the stretch of their WIAA Division 1 regional final last Saturday and edged the Cougars, 80-77, in an instant classic.

In the final 42 seconds, senior wing Myron Ashford Jr. and senior forward Ben Jackson — a pair of reserves — made some of the biggest plays of the night. Ashford Jr. drilled an enormous three-pointer to break a 75-all tie and Jackson hit a pair of free throws, then deflected a Cougars’ inbounds pass.

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Middleton girls have state title in sights

The concept has a glorious ring to it, which was music to Bria Lemirande’s ears.

“The greatest team in the history of girls basketball at Middleton.”

That’s what Lemirande and the Cardinals will be gunning for this weekend.

Middleton advanced to the state tournament for the 10th time in school history and will meet DePere in a WIAA Division 1 semifinal game Friday at 8:15 p.m. at the Resch Center in Green Bay.

The first nine Middleton teams to reach the state tournament fell short of winning a championship. These Cardinals know with a win Friday — and another in Saturday’s title game — they’ll be remembered as the greatest team in school history.

“I think definitely that’s a good push, something to talk about,” said Lemirande, whose team brings a 23-3 record to state. “It’s like, ‘Guys, we have a chance here to be the first team to win state.’ That’s exciting.”

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Middleton's girls headed back to state

JANESVILLE — For the 10th time in school history, Middleton’s girls basketball team is headed to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament. And to the surprise of many, the Cardinals’ final test was much easier than anticipated.

Middleton advanced to state by rolling over Madison East, 65-38, in a sectional final played at Janesville Craig High School last Saturday.

The Cardinals and Purgolders had split their previous two meetings, with each team winning on the road. This time, though, fourth-seeded Middleton forced 21 turnovers and held East to 33% shooting for the game.

Middleton improved to 23-3 and now meets DePere (24-2) in a state semifinal at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon Friday at 8:15 p.m. The state championship game would be Saturday at approximately 8:15 p.m.

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Thomas, MHS knock off Mukwonago

For nearly four seasons now, Middleton’s Alexis Thomas has had a knack for making big plays.

There was a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Cardinals a memorable overtime win at Janesville Craig in 2016. Thomas helped key a second half run in Middleton’s win over Janesville Parker in a regional final.

But Thomas may have had her signature moments in a Middleton uniform Thursday night.

With the Cardinals trailing top-seeded Mukwonago, 59-56, in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal, Thomas drained consecutive three-pointers in a 35-second span late in the second half. Those cold-blooded triples helped propel fourth-seeded Middleton to a 71-66 win over the Indians.

“I’ve definitely been working on my shot,” said Thomas, who led all scorers with 22 points. “I’ve been a little up and down this year. But I was mostly on tonight.”

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Middleton's girls storm into sectionals

After watching Verona claim a state title last year, Middleton’s girls’ basketball team is hoping it’s their turn.

The Cardinals took a huge step in that direction with a 63-53 victory over the defending champion Wildcats in a WIAA Division 1 regional final last Saturday night.

“We told ourselves this is one of the biggest games we’re ever going to play,” Middleton senior forward Carlee Lemirande said.

It was Middleton’s third victory over Verona this season.

“Both teams played really hard, it was a good battle,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “Playing a team like that for the third time of the year you know it’s tough to beat a team that third time. We’re so familiar with each other that it was actually a pretty good defensive battle for the most part.”

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MHS-Mukwonago a battle of heavyweights

They have two of the state’s dominant girls basketball programs for years now.

Middleton has been a fixture atop the Big Eight Conference for the better part of two decades. Along the way, the Cardinals have reached the state tournament nine times — including six since 2008.

Mukwonago has been a force in the Classic 8 Conference for years. The Indians have also reached the state tournament eight times, including three of the past four years.

These two powers will collide in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal Thursday at 7 p.m. at Madison Memorial High School. The Indians (22-2) are the No. 1 seed in the sectional, while Middleton (21-3) is the No. 4 seed.

The winner will meet either second-seeded Sun Prairie or third-seeded Madison East in a sectional final Saturday. Right now, that game is scheduled to be played at Janesville Craig at 1 p.m.

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MHS stars hope to exit in style

Middleton’s dynamic duo had just finished their final regular season game as Cardinals in memorable fashion.

In a thrilling 71-67 win over Madison East last Thursday, Tyree Eady and Storm Murphy — Batman and Robin if you will — went bongos.

Murphy, the Cardinals’ brilliant senior point guard, erupted for 30 points, including 19 in the second half. In the process, Murphy eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier for his MHS career and now sits at 1,029.

Eady, a silky smooth senior wing, exploded for 15 of his 24 points after intermission. Eady pushed his career point total to 1,275, which is believed to be the most in school history.

Middleton had never had a pair of 1,000-point scorers at the same time — until last week.

Afterwards, the two Middleton standouts took a minute to reflect on their outstanding nights. Then they quickly turned the page forward.

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Eady, Murphy named first-team all-Big 8

Middleton senior forward Tyree Eady and senior point guard Storm Murphy were both voted first-team all-Big Eight Conference during a meeting of the league’s coaches Monday night. It marked the second straight year that Eady and Murphy were named first-team all-conference.

The Cardinals’ dynamic duo were joined on the first team by Madison Memorial senior center Chris Knight, Madison East junior forward Keshawn Justice, Madison West senior guard Terrell Carey and Sun Prairie junior guard Marlon Ruffin.

Knight was named the conference’s Player of the Year and Sun Prairie’s Jeff Boos was named the league’s Coach of the Year. Middleton’s Eady finished second in Player of the Year voting.

“He and Storm split too many votes or I think he’s Player of the Year,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said of Eady. “But, of course, Chris Knight is a great player as well.” 

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Middleton's Meicher second at state

The 2017 WIAA Division 1 state wrestling championships had just ended. And already, Middleton standout sophomore Kevin Meicher was looking forward, not back.

Meicher, who won a state championship as a freshman, couldn’t pull off a repeat Saturday night at the UW Kohl Center.

Meicher reached the state finals at 138 pounds, but dropped a 4-0 decision to Sun Prairie’s Drew Scharenbrock. Afterwards, Meicher was already plotting how to turn the loss into a positive.

“I think of this as motivation for next year and the year after that and trying to win two more (state titles),” Meicher said.

Meicher and Scharenbrock — rivals in the Big Eight Conference — had met twice during the regular season, with Scharenbrock winning both matches. Scharenbrock then took control of the championship match with a first period takedown and never let Meicher get anything going.

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Brunker's back where he belongs

Brogan Brunker paused once, twice, and a third time.

He removed his glasses, tried fighting back tears, then realized it was futile.

“Sorry,” Brunker said several seconds after regaining his composure. “This is tough.”

And how.

Back in August, Brunker appeared to be in the best shape of his young life.

Brunker, now a junior at Middleton High School, was playing AAU basketball. Brunker was preparing for a football season packed with promise and potential.

Then, Brunker was struck with Lemierre's syndrome, a disease that affects just 1-in-1,000,000 people and has a mortality rate between 4 and 12%.

Brunker almost fell into that category, suriving a procedure in which his heart had to be re-started and doctor’s gave him a 25% chance to live.

“He defeated death,” Middleton football coach Tim Simon said.





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