Girls basetball team seeks consistency

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MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel
Shannon McCauley and Middleton's girls basketball team open the postseason Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

By now, Jeff Kind didn’t expect to be talking about consistency.

Middleton’s girls basketball coach didn’t think he’d be discussing steadiness and stability.

But the way Kind sees things, it is what it is.

“It’s been a consistency thing for us all year long,” Kind said. “There are times we play well, and then there are times you just wonder.”

Perhaps it’s too much to ask after such an uneven season. But Kind is hoping his team can get hot and string together a handful of solid games this postseason.

Middleton begins the playoffs Friday when it travels to Madison West for a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal at 7 p.m. The winner of that game faces either Madison La Follette or Madison Memorial Saturday at 7 p.m. in a regional final.

“This is a real good bunch of kids and they keep working hard,” Kind said. “We just haven’t developed a real toughness to us yet. That’s where the consistency comes from.

“We need the players to say, ‘We’re not going to let that happen’ when things start going bad.”

West (7-15), the No. 6 seed in the regional, certainly figures to be a challenge for the third-seeded Cardinals (14-8).

Middleton rolled past the Regents, 72-44, on Feb. 2 at West. But the Regents took the Cardinals to the wire before falling in Middleton, 59-56, on Feb. 18.

West’s Ebony Nettles-Bey went wild in the second meeting and erupted for 30 points. She’ll be the Cardinals’ No. 1 focus Friday.

“They played us tough the second time,” Kind said. “I didn’t think we had the defensive intensity we needed.

“They don’t want to slow down and that’s all right with us. We’ll see.”

If Middleton wins, it’s likely to face second-seeded Madison La Follette Saturday. And that’s not great news for the Cardinals.

Middleton and the Lancers (17-5) met twice during the regular season with La Follette winning both times. The latest came last Thursday when the Lancers rolled to a 57-42 win.

Middleton junior forward Liz McMahon was sensational in defeat and scored a game-high 27 points. But no other Cardinal had more than five points.

La Follette, on the other hand, put three players in double figures. Junior forward Ali Smith had 17 points, while junior center Nicole Newman added 16.

“Size-wise, they have some matchup problems for us,” Kind said.

La Follette took care of this one early.

The Lancers led, 16-14, after the first quarter. But La Follette outscored Middleton, 25-7, in the second quarter and surged to a 41-21 lead by halftime.

“We had a stretch where we had some lapses defensively,” Kind said. “They came down and hit three or four 3’s in a row.”

Middleton pulled within 47-34 through three quarters and closed to nine in the fourth quarter. But that’s close as the Cardinals could get.

“We caused some problems with our press against them,” Kind said. “But we gave them some open looks and they shot the ball really well.”

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