Girls basketball team falls in playoffs

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Molly Gaab and Middleton’s girls basketball team lost to Oregon in their playoff opener on Feb. 9./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The past month didn't lead to victories like they’d hoped.

It didn't produce a deep postseason run like they’re accustomed to.

But Middleton’s girls basketball team was thankful for the opportunity to compete — even if things didn’t go according to plan.

The Cardinals fell to Oregon, 53-37, in a WIAA Division 1 regional quarterfinal played at Baraboo High School on Feb. 9. Middleton finished its truncated season 0-6, while the Panthers (7-3) lost three nights later to Waunakee.

“We hung in there for a while and had a few little surges, but we weren’t able to stop their guards from penetrating,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said of the Oregon loss. “We also had trouble finishing around the basket. Add that to a few breakout baskets off turnovers and we found ourselves in a hole.”

The ending capped a wild and wacky season for the Cardinals.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Dane County, Middleton didn't have any games — and only a handful of socially distanced practices — the first two months of the season. Finally on Jan. 11, Middleton superintendent Dana Monogue and athletic director Jamie Sims approved the return of winter sports, with all games to be played outside of Dane County.

The Cardinals knew they’d be in a rebuilding year after losing five starters and eight seniors from last season’s state qualifying team. And that’s exactly what happened, as Middleton dropped all six of its games.

Still, Kind was happy that seniors Molly Gaab, Brianna Acker, Andrea Young, Melanie Accola, Amber Kaplan and Lauryn Abozeid got a chance to compete in their final year.

“I was happy that our seniors got a chance to get on the floor even though the circumstances were not ideal,” Kind said. “They were a resilient group and maintained a great attitude. It was a pleasure to coach them.”

Now, Kind and his coaching staff will turn their attention to the 2021-22 season.

Middleton has a deep junior class, led by forward McKenna Monogue, who was a second-team all-Big Eight Conference player as a sophomore. The current sophomore class — led by Audrey Deptula, Sierra Pertzborn and Evin Jordee — has great potential, as well.

Kind is hoping for a return to normalcy this summer, which should help the Cardinals make major gains a year from now.

“The younger players were able to see the areas we need to improve and get a sense of the speed of the game,” Kind said. “We really found out the importance of all situational competitive drills we normally do.

“I think that awareness will be of benefit as we approach next year. Hopefully we will have a more normal summer and offseason, and be able to compete for the whole season next year.”

 

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