Girls basketball team shocked

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Bria Lemirande and Middleton’s girls basketball team were stunned by Sun Prairie in a regional final./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld


This isn’t how it was supposed to end.

Not on the first Saturday night of the postseason. Not in a regional semifinal.

And certainly not against a team Middleton’s girls basketball team had dismantled twice during the regular season.

But that’s exactly what happened as visiting Sun Prairie stunned Middleton last Saturday night in a WIAA Division 1 regional final. Sun Prairie built a 30-17 halftime lead, withstood a third quarter surge by Middleton, and posted a stunning 54-49 win.

Sun Prairie, the sectional’s No. 5 seed and the sixth place team in the Big Eight Conference, improved to 11-13. Middleton, the Big Eight champion and the sectional’s No. 1 seed, ended an otherwise terrific season at 20-4.

“I wish there was a good explanation,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “They played well, probably the best they’ve played all year and we didn’t.

“It’s a lesson to be learned … but unfortunately for the seniors they don’t have second chance to learn it.”

Freshman guard Bria Lemirande led Middleton with 15 points, while junior post Cole Jordee added 10. And afterwards, Middleton’s players were stunned, shocked and stupefied.

“It really is a bummer,” Jordee said. “I definitely didn't think our season would be over right now, but things happen.

No one expected this to happen.

Middleton defeated Sun Prairie twice during the regular season by an average of 15 points per game. And the last time Sun Prairie defeated Middleton was Nov. 18, 2005.

Afterwards, Middleton pointed to overconfidence as a reason for its slow start and eventual loss.

“I think we may have came into the game a little too confident and not completely focused,” Jordee said. “I think many of us overlooked Sun Prairie because of the past games, and we will all learn a lesson from that.

“I don't really know why we had such a slow start. I guess we just weren’t all there together. Many players were playing individually and not as a team, which really hurt us. All of the little things that have been hurting us all season hurt us that game.”

Especially early.

Sun Prairie jumped to a 5-0 lead and stretched that to 17-8 by the end of the first quarter. Late in the first half, Sun Prairie’s cushion was 27-12, and it held a 30-17 lead at the break.

“You could feel our intensity wasn’t the same as the night before,” said Kind, whose team defeated Madison East, 71-40, in a regional semifinal Friday. “It kind of shocked our girls that they came out and played so well at the beginning. It was unexpected.”

Most expected a Middleton comeback, and that’s exactly what happened in the third quarter.

Middleton went on a 17-5 run to open the third quarter, and pulled within 35-34 after a Darby Raffel three-pointer.

“At halftime we talked about taking things one step at a time and just playing as a team,” senior forward Liz McMahon said. “We knew we had to dig deep to keep the season going.

“Just coming out in the third quarter and watching their lead disappear was great. There was energy in the gym and we were pumped to be coming back, but we just got into too big of a hole and it was tough to get out of it.”

Sun Prairie didn’t blink, though, and closed the quarter on a 5-0 run to grab a 40-34 lead.

Middleton hurt itself, too, with three straight turnovers after it had pulled within one.

“When we started coming back our energy really picked up and I actually thought we would take the lead,” Jordee said. “But with digging ourselves such a big hole, it was really hard. We were almost there, but just didn't have enough time I guess.” 

Sun Prairie kept Middleton at bay most of the fourth quarter. But Middleton scored four straight points late and closed within 50-47 with 20.8 seconds left.

But Sun Prairie — which shot 23-of-33 from the free throw line — made clutch foul shots down the stretch and prevailed.

“We dug ourselves a big hole and just couldn't get out of it,” Kind said. “Everybody’s asking, ‘What happened. What happened.’

“I’m trying to remember the last time we didn't play well in tournament. It’s been a long time since we haven’t played to our capabilities.”

For the most part Middleton played to its capabilities all year.

One year after Middleton had its streak of six straight conference titles snapped, it was back atop the league. The Cardinals had an 11-game winning streak from Dec. 27-Feb. 14. And Middleton won six in a row early in the year.

“I agree that endings are the hardest, and right now it really hurts because of the expectations we had for ourselves,” McMahon said. “But we have to look back at this season as a success, because it was.

“We came together as a team, we improved a ton from the beginning of the season, and we won the Big Eight Conference. We learned a lot and made some lasting friendships. People say that a lot, but with this team it’s 100% true. The loss hurts now, but as we look back on the season, I think everyone will appreciate the memories we’ve made.”

Kind agreed — but admitted it will take some time to get past this loss.

“I look at the preseason and we were picked for fourth in the conference,” Kind said. “So winning the league again was a good accomplishment.

“I’m sad the seniors didn't get to accomplish what they wanted. But hopefully this is a good lesson for the younger players that will be coming back.

• Middleton 71, Madison East 40 — Junior forward Grace Douglas scored a game-high 15 points as the Cardinals rolled in a regional semifinal last Friday. Junior guard Elizabeth Norregaard added 12 points, while junior post Cole Jordee had 11 points and senior forward Liz McMahon scored 10.

Middleton raced to a 23-8 lead after the first quarter and stretched that advantage to 38-16 by halftime. The Cardinals kept their foot on the gas in the third quarter and surged to a 59-27 lead, then coasted home.

March 8

WIAA Division 1 regional final

Sun Prairie …………. 17 13 10 14 — 54

Middleton …………… 8  9 17 15 — 49

SUN PRAIRIE — Conom 8, Hartnett 9, Peterson 7, Hommerding 14, Huser 16. Totals 14 23-33 54.

MIDDLETON — Norregaard 7, Raffel 5, McMahon 4, Blair 1, Douglas 5, Jordee 10, Bunyan 1, Lemirande 15, Thomas 1. Totals 15 15-23 49.

Three-point goals — SP 3 (Conom, Peterson, Hommerding), M 4 (Lemirande 2, Raffel, Jordee). Total fouls — SP 18, M 25. Fouled out — Norregaard, Douglas, McMahon.


March 7

WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal

Middleton 71, Madison East 40

Madison East …………. 8   8  11 13 — 40

Middleton ………..…… 23 15 21 12 — 71

MADISON EAST — Justice 10, Kruser 2, Larson 15, Roll 8, White 5. Totals 17 5-14 40.

MIDDLETON — Bergum 4, Norregaard 12, Raffel 2, McMahon 10, Blair 3, Douglas 15, Jordee 11, Bunyan 7, Lemirande 2, Thomas 2, Meinholz 2, Passini 1. Totals 25 19-28 71.

Three-point goals — ME 1 (White), M 2 (Bunyan, Norregaard). Total fouls — ME 19, M 16.


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