Sports

Sun
24
Feb
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Middleton hoping to slay mighty Memorial

SUN PRAIRIE — The parallels are downright eerie.

Middleton’s boys basketball lost twice to Sun Prairie this regular season, including once when a buzzer-beater broke the Cardinals’ collective hearts. But with the stakes highest last Saturday night, Middleton drubbed Sun Prairie, 75-64, in a WIAA Division 1 regional final.

Middleton also lost twice this regular season to Madison Memorial, the final time coming on a dramatic buzzer-beater. But like it did against Sun Prairie, Middleton has a chance to prove the third time is the charm.

Middleton and Madison Memorial will meet in a sectional semifinal Thursday in Watertown at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the sectional final Saturday at 1 p.m. in Sun Prairie.

Sun
24
Feb
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Schafer's heroics help Middleton top West

Derek Rongstad fully expected the pass.

Madison West thought it was going Rongstad’s way, as well.

But Luke Schafer was a master of deception last Friday night.

In a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal against the visiting Regents, Schafer pulled a Houdini act at the most opportune of times.

With Middleton clinging to a 40-37 lead, Schafer faked a handoff to Rongstad. Two Regents followed Rongstad, leaving Schafer a clear lane to the basket.

Middleton’s junior point guard drove from the left wing, attacked the rim and hit a high-arching left-handed lay-up. Schafer was also clobbered by West’s Travis Kell, and when he converted the three-point play with 1:24 left, Middleton was on its way to a hard fought 46-42 win.

The Cardinals improved to 13-10, while West ended its year 8-15.

“They were anticipating that bounce back pass,” Schafer said. “So I knew they were going to try and get that steal.

Sat
23
Feb
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Middleton takes aim at Sun Prairie

Just 11 days ago, Sun Prairie broke the collective hearts of Middleton’s boys basketball team.

Middleton will gun for revenge Saturday night when it travels to Sun Prairie for a WIAA Division 1 regional final at 7 p.m.

Sun Prairie (20-3) is the regional’s top-seed and shared the Big Eight Conference title. Middleton (13-10) is the No. 4 seed and tied for third in the league.

“We have nothing to lose and they have everything to lose,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “I like that position.

“All the pressure should be on them. Our guys should be able to come out and play loose.”

Middleton reached the regional finals after edging Madison West, 46-42, in a regional semifinal Friday night. Junior guard Luke Schafer had 16 points, including a clutch three-point play late to seal the win. Junior guard Derek Rongstad added 12 and senior forward Tyler Markel had two huge second half three-pointers.

Wed
20
Feb
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Hockey Cardinals put on ice

And just like that, a season of great promise went up in smoke.

Middleton’s hockey team had Madison Edgewood on the ropes for much of the night Tuesday in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal.

But the Crusaders rallied back and stunned the Cardinals, 3-2, in double overtime.

Middleton ended the year 18-6, while Edgewood improved to 14-10.

“Tough loss,” Middleton coach Steve Libert said. “The season ended early and I do not like it.”

Middleton took a 2-0 first period lead on a pair of goals by Jordan Carey.

Carey scored five minutes in for a 1-0 Cardinals’ lead, then scored two minutes later to make it 2-0. But the Cardinals never scored again.

Edgewood trimmed Middleton’s lead to 2-1 at 9:38 of the second period when Nick Kanoff beat Middleton’s Max McConnell.

The Crusaders tied things up just 3:15 into the third period on a goal by A.J. Erickson, and the teams eventually went to double overtime.

Wed
20
Feb
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Middleton-West ready for Round 3

 

Players and coaches alike will tell you that the basketball season can be a grind.

It opens in mid-November. It drags through the long and gloomy winter months. And it doesn’t end — for some teams — until mid-March.

Middleton, though, hopes the end is still a few weeks away.

The Cardinals begin their second season Friday when they host Madison West in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal at 7 p.m. If Middleton prevails, it will most likely travel to Sun Prairie for a regional final Saturday at 7 p.m.

“West has been kind of an enigma, as they have been really up and really down throughout the season,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “But there is no denying their collective talent. They have all the pieces.”

Middleton finished the regular season 12-10 overall and tied for third place in the Big Eight Conference at 10-8. West went 7-11, 8-14.

Wed
20
Feb
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Middleton's boys fall twice

This certainly isn’t the way Middleton boys basketball team wanted to enter the postseason.

But in a week mired by a pair of excruciating losses, all was not lost for the Cardinals.

Middleton fell at Big Eight Conference champion Sun Prairie, 72-70, last Tuesday. But the host Cardinals needed a 27-foot three-pointer at the buzzer from Nebraska recruit Nick Fuller just to force overtime.

Middleton then lost at Madison La Follette, 68-63, last Friday in a game that was nip-and-tuck the entire way.

While Middleton enters the postseason on a two-game losing streak, it did go 8-4 down the stretch. The Cardinals also finished the regular season 12-10 overall and tied for third place in the Big Eight at 10-8.

Wed
20
Feb
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MHS gymnasts win Big 8 title

They could have let the unexpected falls break their spirit.

They could have allowed the early setbacks to linger throughout the day.

But that’s not how Middleton’s girls gymnastics team is wired. Not even close.

At the Big Eight Conference meet Saturday at Janesville Craig, Middleton suffered four early falls in the balance beam. Since each fall counts as a deduction of 0.5 points, that set the Cardinals back 2.0 points.

But Middleton rebounded in a big way and battled back to edge Verona/Madison Edgewood for the title, 141.10-140.90.

“I was not expecting that high of a team score,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said. “But I think it shows the girls just what they are capable of.

“After the meet, several girls came up to me and said, ‘If we can get a 141.1 with four beam falls, think of what we can do if we stick our routines!’ It really motivates the girls to know there is room for improvement.”

Wed
20
Feb
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Middleton girls are heating up

 

SUN PRAIRIE — If there was any doubt, Middleton’s girls basketball team erased it last Thursday.

Middleton went to Sun Prairie to face its greatest challenger for the No. 3 seed in the postseason. But Middleton made sure there was little debate and cruised to a 51-40 win.

Middleton junior forward Liz McMahon led the way with 19 points and 14 rebounds. McMahon also played stifling defense on Sun Prairie’s McKayla Yentz, limiting the Marquette recruit to just 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting.

“I’m really happy,” McMahon said afterwards. “This game was really big for seeding and it was a game we really needed.”

Sun Prairie was Middleton’s greatest challenger for the No. 3 seed in the sectional. But when Middleton defeated Sun Prairie for a second time this year, there was little debate over which team should be the higher seed.

Tue
19
Feb
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Cain takes aim at state wrestling title

Urgency.

If there’s one word that best describes Jake Cain’s mindset this weekend, it’s urgency.

Cain, a senior wrestler at Middleton High School, is back in the WIAA Division 1 state tournament for the third time in his magnificent career.

Cain fully understands, though, that this is his last — and best — chance at a state title. And the 138-pound Cain intends to make the most of his opportunity.

“This being my last season I'm essentially all in,” said Cain, who is 48-1 this season. “I have to win this year. No exceptions. That's not to say that it's going to be easy. At this point everyone is good and nobody can be taken lightly or overlooked.”

Cain qualified for the state tournament after winning his weight class at last Saturday’s Middleton Sectional. Middleton sophomore Shay Haase also finished second at 160 pounds and earned a trip to state.

Tue
19
Feb
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Tardiness costly for MHS' girls basketball team

 

Jeff Kind felt terrible.

Being late isn’t like him. And in one of the rare instances Kind was tardy, it was costly.

Kind, Middleton’s girls basketball coach, thought his postseason seeding meeting Sunday was at 1 p.m. Instead, it was at noon.

So when Kind arrived at 12:50 p.m., the meeting was already wrapping up.

Because Kind was not present when the postseason seeds were being voted on, Middleton is not allowed to host any games at the regional level.

“I feel terrible about it,” Kind said afterwards. “It’s nobody’s fault but my own.”

The good news is Kind’s Cardinals received the No. 3 seed, which is what Middleton expected. The bad news is the Cardinals’ first game — a regional semifinal against sixth-seeded Madison West — will now be at West on March 1 at 7 p.m.

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