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Edgewood tops Middleton's boys

They were shorthanded, under the weather and sluggish most of the night.

Still, Middleton’s boys basketball team rallied from an 18-point deficit against Madison Edgewood last Friday.

Down the stretch, though, the Crusaders made more big plays and pulled out a hard fought, 50-49 non-conference win.

“We looked like we were sick,” Middleton coach Kevin Bavery said. “Guys were trying to run but looked like they were in quicksand.”

Middleton played without four of its top 10 players, including standout guard Derek Rongstad (hand) and starting forward Chris Little (flu). Still, the Cardinals battled back from a huge hole to make the final moments thrilling.

Kenji Passini, who led Middleton with 12 points, scored five straight points late to put the Cardinals ahead, 49-48. First, Passini drilled a three-pointer. Then Passini made two free throws with 28 seconds remaining to give Middleton the lead.

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Middleton's girls rally past King

FRANKLIN — Natalie Staples will be the first to tell you, it didn’t matter if she ever made another shot on the basketball court — much less a game-winner. Now that it’s happened, though, Staples admits it’s a world a fun.

Just 28 months ago, Staples nearly lost her left arm — and her life — in an ATV accident. Last Friday, Staples completed her remarkable comeback in grand fashion.

Staples, a senior guard for Middleton’s girls basketball team, played hero for the Cardinals during the semifinals of the Christine Rathke Memorial Tournament at Franklin.

First, Staples hit a three-pointer with 22 seconds left to give Middleton its first lead of the second half against powerful Milwaukee King. Staples then blocked a potential game-tying three-pointer by King’s Shakeela Fowler at the buzzer to preserve a 62-59 win.

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Middleton runs past Racine Case

FRANKLIN — The final score made some of the numbers easier to digest.

But just slightly.

Middleton’s girls basketball team notched a 59-36 win over Racine Case in the opening round of the Christine Rathke Memorial Tournament held at Franklin High School last Thursday.

While the Cardinals were thrilled with the win, they weren’t so happy with their 31 turnovers and 14-of-30 night at the free throw line.

“You won’t win many like that,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “This is such a young bunch. It’s really just a matter of us being focused.

“We’re in such a big hurry. It just led to a lot of unforced turnovers.”

There was a lot of good for a Middleton team that improved to 4-3.

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Girls basketball team headlines top stories of 2012

Thrilling victories. Magnificent individual performances. Memories to last a lifetime.

These are the norm inside the remarkably successful sports programs at Middleton High School.

And 2012 was certainly no different.

MHS provided area sports fans with a bevy of highlights this past year. Here’s one person’s view of the top-10.


1. The beat goes on

The losses were extreme. Expectations weren’t high.

When Middleton’s girls basketball team began the 2011-’12 campaign, few believed they would continue their recent run of success.

“I think going into the year, people were like, ‘Middleton, they’ll have an average year. They’re not going to be as good as they were last year,’ ” Middleton guard Mika Passini said. “But I think going into the season with that mentality motivated us a lot more.”

It showed.

To the surprise of many, Middleton put together its typical sensational season.

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Girls basketball team toppled

Offense has been a problem for Middleton’s girls basketball team at times this season.

And that was the case once again last Saturday.

Host Verona slowed the pace and slowed the Cardinals in a 37-22 Wildcats victory.

Middleton fell to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in the Big Eight Conference. Verona improved to 5-3, 4-1.

Janesville Parker leads the league with a 5-0 mark, while Verona, Sun Prairie and Madison La Follette all have one loss.

Middleton played without standout forward Liz McMahon and never could get rolling.

The Wildcats used a 7-0 run between the first and second quarters to go ahead, 14-4. Verona then held a 16-6 lead at halftime.

Things didn’t improve much in the second half, as Verona stretched its lead to 27-11 through three quarters.

The Wildcats then maintained a comfortable advantage throughout the fourth quarter.

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Boys basketball team falls at Fort

Finding a branch of consistency to grab ahold of has been a tough thing for Middleton's boys basketball team this winter. And that was the case again last Saturday.

The Cardinals dug a 15-8 hole after the first quarter, played catch-up all night, and fell to host Fort Atkinson, 49-45.

Demond Hill, Kade Schultz and Max Oelerich all scored eight points to pace the Cardinals.

Middleton fell to 4-4 on the year and remained 4-3 in the Big Eight Conference. Fort Atkinson improved to 5-2 overall.

The game was tight throughout. Fort led, 21-17, at halftime and 34-28 through three quarters.

Middleton kept charging in the fourth quarter, but never could seize control.

Middleton next faces Madison Edgewood Friday at 7:30 p.m.

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Hockey Cardinals stumble

It was a rough week for Middleton's hockey team.

The host Cardinals dropped a 3-1 decision to league-leading Verona Saturday. Middleton also fell, 5-1, to Madison West on Dec. 18.

Middleton, which is 6-3 overall, has now slipped to third place in the Big Eight at 4-2. Verona (7-1, 6-0) leads the league.

Middleton took a 1-0 lead against Verona when senior defenseman Jake Bunz had an unassisted goal less than nine minutes into the game.

But the Cardinals never did score again. And Verona scored one goal in every period to eventually prevail.

Against West, Middleton trailed, 1-0, midway through the first period. Then Bunz got the equalizer with assists from Nico Campbell and Ethan McLeod.

But the Regents took a 2-1 lead after the first period, tacked on two second period goals and another in the third.

Middleton is now off until Jan. 4 when it hosts Onalaska.

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Middleton tops Verona, loses Rongstad

VERONA — The fall was nasty, unnecessary, and borderline dirty.

Whether or not it derails Middleton’s season remains to be seen.

The Cardinals notched an impressive 62-51 win at Verona last Thursday. But it came with a price.

Late in the first half, Cardinals standout guard Derek Rongstad had a steal and was heading in for a breakaway layup. Verona’s Scott Ndobegang undercut Rongstad, though, causing him to take a nasty spill.

Rongstad used his left hand to break the fall, but instead broke a bone in that same hand. The injury will sideline him until at least mid-January.

Amazingly, the three-man officiating crew elected not to call a foul.

“It was an emotional game and that play certainly set the tone,” Cardinals coach Kevin Bavery said. “But there are a lot of times in life where you need to take the high road.

“We didn’t get the call and guys were mad. But we just have to play above that.”

Middleton did exactly that.

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Middleton falls to Sun Prairie

With a showdown against Sun Prairie looming, Middleton’s boys basketball team was dealt a huge blow last Friday.

The Cardinals found out they would be without Derek Rongstad — their star point guard and floor leader — for the next four to six weeks with a broken hand. The junior injured his hand while trying to brace himself on a hard fall after attempting a lay-up against Verona last Thursday.

Rather than focusing on the void Rongstad left in the lineup, Middleton coach Kevin Bavery approached it as an opportunity for others to step in.

“The way we address when he got hurt to our guys, we just said, ‘Look it’s an opportunity for other people.’ Injuries happen, they’re a part of the game and it’s always unfortunate,” Bavery said. “I always feel bad for the individual.

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McMahon's return sparks Cardinals

Welcome back!

That’s what Middleton’s girls basketball team was singing from the top of its collective lungs after destroying Madison East, 56-28, last Friday.

The Cardinals were giddy to welcome back preseason all-state forward Liz McMahon. McMahon missed the first month of the season with a broken finger, but made her debut a memorable one with a game-high 18 points.

“It's very good to have Liz back,” Cardinals coach Jeff Kind said. “She gives us some added scoring and opens things up for us on offense just by being a threat to score.”

Middleton improved to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big Eight Conference. The Cardinals are in a three-way tie for second place in the league, one game behind Janesville Parker.

But with McMahon back, Middleton has a chance to become the kind of team Kind envisioned before he lost his best player.


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