Middleton's girls not happy with No. 8 seed

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Rashard Griffith and Middleton's girls basketball team thought they deserved better than a No. 8 seed./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld




Middleton’s girls basketball team felt all of the above when the WIAA Division 1 postseason seeds were released Sunday afternoon.

The Cardinals (13-9) received the No. 8 seed — far lower than they expected — and will host ninth-seeded Sussex Hamilton (8-14) in a regional semifinal on Feb. 24. The winner of that game would likely travel to top-seeded Brookfield East (21-2) for a regional final on Feb. 25.

“They were upset,” said Middleton coach Rashard Griffith, who had gathered his team together for a watch party. “And I think a lot of teams in our conference got bad seeds.

“But I told them, understand that this doesn't matter. The seed is the seed. We’re in the playoffs. Now it’s time to play the hand we were dealt.”

Middleton had won five games in a row and seven of eight before losing at Sun Prairie West, 50-46, on Friday. The Cardinals’ recent hot streak allowed them to jump into fourth place in the always tough Big Eight Conference with a 12-6 league mark.

But the computerized seeding system didn’t think as highly of Middleton as many others did.

Brookfield East earned the top seed, followed by Hartland Arrowhead (18-4), Verona (19-2), Sun Prairie West (17-4), Oregon (15-7), Waunakee (13-10), Madison La Follette (12-8), Middleton, Sussex Hamilton, Oconomowoc (8-14), Madison East (8-13), Brookfield Central (6-15), Sun Prairie East (8-13), Madison Memorial (7-15), Milwaukee Bradley Tech (6-11), West Allis Hale (5-17), West Allis Central (5-18) and Madison West (1-19).

“Some of the seeds don't make a lot of sense,” Griffith said. “I mean, how is Verona the (No.) 3? Our league didn’t get a lot of respect and now we all have an opportunity to show we’re one of the top leagues and top conferences in the state.”

The WIAA and Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association switched to the electronic seeding formula in 2022, in large part to remove human biases. While there is certainly logic to that, the WIAA and WBCA have drawn the wrath of many coaches and fans because they haven’t been forthright with just how the seeding formula is determined.

The criteria the formula uses to determine seeds includes:

• Team’s win percentage

• Opponents’ win percentage

• Defeated opponents’ win percentage

• Defeated opponents’ opponents win percentage

• Historical conference playoff win percentage

• Historical team playoff win percentage

• Strength of loss game value

• Computer random draw

The WIAA and WBCA have refused to say what percentage each category is worth, though. That leaves coaches uncertain whether to schedule powerhouses, lightweights, or something in between.

Middleton believed it was in line for a much higher seed, but instead settled for the No. 8 seed.

The Cardinals are led by Loyola of Chicago recruit Audrey Deptula, who ranks second in the Big Eight in scoring at 25.2 points per game. Deptula has scored at least 30 points seven times this year, including a career-best 39 points against Madison Memorial on Jan. 14.

While Deptula’s terrific year is no surprise, a major reason for the Cardinals’ improvement has been the growth of their role players.

Senior forward Addy Gmur (8.1 ppg) has had a solid season, while freshman guards Brooke Michelotti (7.4 ppg) and Rowan Borne (5.3 ppg) have made dramatic leaps since November. Others such as forward junior Kenzie Zimmerman (5.4 ppg), senior wing Evin Jordee (5.0 ppg) and junior forward Stevee Kraemer (4.8) have made substantial jumps, as well.

“Honestly, the girls all knew how to play basketball,” Griffith said. “It was just them having confidence in themselves and believing they can do some good things. They’ve gotten better and better and now they have a chance to show it.”

Middleton’s first chance to “show it” will be against a Sussex Hamilton team that’s struggled mightily down the stretch.

After a 5-3 start to the year, the Chargers are just 3-11 since. Hamilton lost five straight games recently and has dropped seven of eight overall.

The Chargers were one of the top programs in the Milwaukee-area from 2009-2020 under former head coaches Dan Carey and Bill Scasny. Hamilton went 187-77 in that time (.708), won four Greater Metro Conference titles and finished in the top-three of the league for 11 straight years.

Scasny retired after the 2020 season, though, and the program has fallen on hard times under current coach Craig Machut.

Machut is just 26-42 during his three years at Hamilton, a dismal .382 winning percentage. And all three of Machut’s teams have had sub-.500 records.

Middleton hopes that works in its favor when the teams meet on Feb. 24.

“I think we have a golden opportunity to show who we are,” Griffith said. “We didn't like the seeding, but there’s nothing we can do about it anymore.

“Right now, it’s time to start getting ready for the first game of the playoffs. And hopefully we’ll get a date with the No. 1 seed after we play Hamilton.”

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