Girls basketball team should be strong again

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s Bria Lemirande (left) had a big freshman season and will be counted on for big things next year./File photo

 

Redemption.

When Middleton’s girls basketball team begins the 2014-’15 campaign, that could very well be the Cardinals’ buzzword.

Middleton just completed a terrific season, going 20-4 overall and winning the Big Eight Conference for the seventh time in eight years. But it’s the ending that will bother the Cardinals until next season begins.

Middleton fell to Sun Prairie in a WIAA Division 1 regional final in a stunning upset. And when next year begins, the Cardinals will be aiming for a far happier ending.

“We will want to make it farther than this year, because it really shouldn’t have ended this soon,” Middleton junior forward Cole Jordee said. “We need to redeem ourselves.”

Cardinals junior guard Elizabeth Norregaard agreed.

“The season ending like this will definitely contribute to my motivation and determination to win next year,” Norregaard said. “And I’m sure I’m not the only one.”

Next year’s Cardinals should have a chance for big things.

Middleton loses senior forward Liz McMahon, a two-time first-team all-Bight Conference player. Guard Darby Raffel and center Anna Bunyan were also key reserves.

But the Cardinals will bring back as much talent and experience as almost any team in the state.

Norregaard, who transferred into the district from Denmark last fall, was in her first year in the program. Despite being inexperienced in Middleton’s offense, Norregaard led the Cardinals in scoring with 13.5 points per game.

Norregaard had a season-high 32 points in a win at Janesville Parker in late January. And next year, the 5-foot-6 guard should be even better.

“Elizabeth will keep getting better and better,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “All of this was new to her this season. She’s a high level player who should have a great year.”

Middleton will also bring back sophomore forward Grace Douglas, freshman guard Bria Lemirande and Jordee — all starters throughout this season.

Jordee was second on the team in rebounding (7.1) and in scoring (10.1). Jordee can be a force inside, but also has the ability to hurt teams from the perimeter.

Lemirande made quite a splash in her freshman season. She joined the varsity shortly before Christmas, took over the starting point guard job at the Franklin Tournament, and never gave it up.

Douglas is one of Middleton’s most well-rounded players with a wide ranging skill set.

Not only will Middleton bring back four of five starters, it also has a solid nucleus of reserves coming back, too.

Freshman guard Alexis Thomas was a major addition at midseason and should only get better. Junior guards Jenna Blair and Emily Bergum were key reserves this year.

Middleton also had one of its finest freshman teams ever, and Kind will undoubtedly promote a few of those players to the varsity.

“It’s going to be a fun group that certainly will be able to score and put a lot of pressure on people,” Kind said. “I’m excited about the possibilities.”

Middleton won’t have great size. But the Cardinals should have plenty of athletes to make their full court, pressure defense a nightmare for foes to deal with.

“One thing we’ll lack is size,” Kind said. “There’s no size on horizon. So they all have to make improvements. They all have things they can get better at.

“One thing we have to get better at as a team is halfcourt defense. Traditionally we don’t let teams score into the 50s and 60s that often. We did that a lot this year. We were able to outscore people … but that’s not something I’m looking to do.”

If Middleton’s defense improves — and its younger players take another step — it could be a memorable year for the program. And one that helps erase the memory of this season’s ending.

“We are all very sad that our season was cut so short of what we expected, but we still have a lot of potential for next year,” Jordee said. “We have such a young, talented team, which gives me a lot of hope.”

 

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