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La Follette KOs boys basketball team

MADISON — The head coach — a chipper fellow by nature — took a glass half full approach.

The star player — who had just been through 36 minutes of hell — was a little bit more troubled.

Middleton’s boys basketball team proved once again last Saturday that it can play with virtually anyone in the state, when the Cardinals gave sixth-ranked Madison La Follette a scare. But once again, Middleton couldn’t get over the hump against an elite foe and dropped a 76-64 decision that was far closer than the final score indicated.

Middleton fell to 11-9 overall and 9-7 in the Big Eight Conference, while the Lancers improved to 17-3, 13-3.

The Cardinals, who are in fifth place in the Big Eight, also fell to 1-6 against teams that are ahead of them in the league. On the flip side, Middleton is 8-1 against teams below it in the standings.

If the Cardinals are going to make a postseason run, they must find a way to defeat the teams above them in the league.

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Swimmers second at sectionals

Middleton’s boys swimming and diving team has been a model of consistency in recent seasons.

Each of the past four years, the Cardinals have finished between seventh and ninth at the WIAA Division 1 state meet.

While that’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, the 2018 Cardinals could be poised for even bigger and better.

Middleton had a memorable performance and finished second at the star-studded Beloit Memorial Sectional last Saturday.

Madison West won the 10-team sectional with 392 points, while Middleton was a close second at 357. Madison Memorial (349), the Sauk Prairie co-op (203) and Verona-Mount Horeb (192) rounded out the top five.

The state meet will be held Saturday at the UW-Natatorium. The diving competition begins at 10 a.m. and the swimming finals start at 3 p.m.

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Girls basketball team lands No. 4 seed

If you told Jeff Kind in December that Middleton’s girls basketball team would land a top-four postseason seed, the Cardinals’ head coach might have thought you were goofy.

Middleton struggled early in the season and had a 3-5 record just two days after Christmas. But the Cardinals have been red-hot ever since, winning 10 of their last 12 games.

And Sunday afternoon, Middleton received the No. 4 seed in its sectional.

The Cardinals (13-7) will host 13th-seeded Janesville Parker (7-12) in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. If the Cardinals win there, they’d face the winner of fifth-seeded Waunakee (15-6) and 12th-seeded Watertown (10-11) in a regional final Feb. 24.

The sectional semifinals are March 1 at Madison Memorial, and the sectional finals are March 3 at Janesville Craig.

Mukwonago (17-2) is the No. 1 seed, while Sun Prairie (19-1) is seeded second and Madison East (14-5) is the No. 3 seed.

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Gymnasts win Middleton Invite

The girls state gymnastics meet remains three weeks away.

But it’s not too early to start talking about Middleton as one of the schools capable of making a run at greatness.

Middleton won its own invitational on Feb. 3 and made quite a statement in the process.

The Cardinals finished with 138.925 points and outdistanced traditional power Waukesha co-op (137.925) for the title. After the win, Middleton jumped to No. 3 in the latest state rankings.

“The girls keep improving and their hard work continues to pay off,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said. “So it's pretty exciting going into tournament season in the next couple weeks.”

Middleton had a bevy of sensational performances on its way to the title.

Cardinals junior standout Karina Sabol won the balance beam with a 9.725 and senior Chloe Young was sixth with a 9.0. Sophomore Kimmy Williams was eighth (8.90) and junior Ashley Bindl was 16th (8.375).

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.


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