Sports

Wed
09
Jan
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Hockey Cards rediscover winning ways

As Middleton’s hockey team skidded last month, Cardinals co-coach Steve Libert felt chemistry and camaraderie were bigger issues than talent.

So Libert was giddy his team hit the road last weekend.

“Playing back to back games on the road may have helped build some trust amongst the players,” Libert said. “We have lacked the ability to trust each other to do their job, and as a result, we often have players trying to do too much.

“But you fail at your own responsibilities as soon as you try to do someone else's job. Everybody got to spend more time with each other on the bus and story time seemed to go well.”

That it did.

First, the Cardinals toppled Onalaska, 3-2, in overtime Friday. Middleton senior Jake Bunz got the game-winner 1:12 into the extra session.

The Cardinals then routed Beloit Memorial, 8-3, last Saturday. Bunz stayed red hot with the first four-goal night of his Middleton career.

Wed
09
Jan
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Gymnasts capture Mount Horeb Invite

Kari Steck sets the bar awfully high for Middleton’s girls gymnastics team.

So when the Cardinals exceeded Steck’s expectations last Saturday, you know good things happened.

Middleton went to the Mount Horeb Invite and put on a show. The Cardinals posted a 138.250 team score to easily outdistance runner-up Madison Edgewood (133.50) at the 13-team event.

Middleton junior Aryn Skibba captured the individual title with a remarkable performance. Skibba notched a 137.325 score to edge Madison Memorial’s Caroline Smith (36.925) for the all-around crown.

“The girls performed far beyond my expectations,” Steck said. “This was our first invitational of the year, and they really made a statement and set the bar for the conference.”

Skibba gave a memorable performance in winning the all-around title.

Wed
09
Jan
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Wrestlers win Baraboo Invite

Middleton’s wrestling team has been looking for a signature win all season.

Last Saturday, the Cardinals got exactly that.

Middleton went to the Baraboo Thunderbird Classic and won the seven-team tournament.

The Cardinals finished with 208.0 points and edged runner-up Baraboo (194.5). Tomah (181.0), Grafton (115.0) and Adams-Friendship (106.5) rounded out the top five.

Middleton had four first place finishers. Those came from Jake Cain at 138 pounds, Shay Haase (160), Taggart Haase (170) and Sean Benedict (285).

Cain notched four pins, won one match by forfeit and improved to 29-1 on the year. Cain’s toughest match came against Baraboo’s William Pierce, but he pinned the Thunderbirds wrestler in 5:27.

Shay Haase went 5-0 on the day, including two pins.

Wed
02
Jan
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Staples delivers ultimate feel good story

FRANKLIN — I’ll be the first to admit, I’m jaded.

Twenty-plus years in this business will do that to even the most pie-in-sky optimists.

For every great kid and terrific story, there’s another one — and maybe more — to muck things up.

But every now and again comes a story that restores your faith in, well, really everything that’s good about people and life.

In this case, that story bleeds into the sporting world, as well.

Meet Natalie Staples, a remarkably determined, strong-minded, and resolute member of Middleton’s girls basketball team. If ever there was a poster child for perseverance, it’s Staples.

By now many of you likely know Staples’ incredible story.

In Aug., 2010, Staples and a group of six friends went for an ATV ride on the family’s 16-acre property in Cross Plains. They hit a patch of gravel and the vehicle flipped.

Wed
02
Jan
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Middleton's girls second at Franklin Tournament

FRANKLIN — Sure, a title would have been sweet.

But for a Middleton’s girls basketball team searching for consistency, last weekend was a terrific success.

The Cardinals reached the championship game of the fifth annual Christine Rathke Memorial Tournament held at Franklin High School. There, Middleton fell to host Franklin, 68-57.

Still, reaching the title game at a power-packed tournament was a huge stepping stone for the Cardinals.

“We’re improving , but we have to get better defensively and be more secure with the ball,” said Middleton coach Jeff Kind, whose team was plagued by turnovers in the title game. “It’s good to win two of three, but still a lot to improve on.”

Wed
02
Jan
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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.

Sat
29
Dec
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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.

Thu
27
Dec
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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.

Thu
27
Dec
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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.

Thu
27
Dec
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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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