Girls basketball team shares Big 8 crown

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Bria Lemirande and Middleton's girls basketball team won a share of the Big Eight Conference title./File photo

The odds were stacked against them from the start.

Few believed a Big Eight Conference championship was possible this winter for Middleton’s girls basketball team. Instead, Verona was a consensus favorite to win the league.

But history has shown that overlooking Jeff Kind’s Middleton program isn’t wise. And that was certainly the case in 2015-’16.

Middleton notched a pair of wins last week and captured a share of the conference title. The Cardinals and Verona finished the year 17-1 in the Big Eight, three games ahead of third place Janesville Craig.

Middleton clinched a share of this year’s title thanks to an 87-74 win over visiting Janesville Craig last Saturday. The Cardinals also rolled past Beloit Memorial, 76-37, last Thursday.

“The conference championship is a nice reward for the entire body of work within the conference,” Kind said. “Verona was the prohibitive favorite and our early victory over them was a stepping stone to the rest of the season.”

Cardinals junior forward Alexis Thomas agreed.

“Of course, winning the conference title individually as a team is better than sharing it,” Thomas said. “But sharing it with Verona means a lot more than not winning it at all! Verona's a great team, and knowing that we were able to share a conference championship with them shows how hard we have worked.”

Middleton has now won at least a share of the conference title eight of the past 10 years. The Cardinals are a remarkable 155-21 in conference games in that time (88.1%).

“I think we've grown along the way,” Kind said of Middleton’s season. “We were able to pull out a few close victories and come away with a share of the conference championship. Combined with the focused performance against Craig, it's a good way to head into the postseason.”

Middleton, the No. 2 seed in its sectional, opens postseason play Friday when it hosts 15th-seeded Madison West at 7 p.m. If the Cardinals win there, they’ll host either seventh-seeded Janesville Parker or 10th seeded Madison East in a regional final Saturday at 7 p.m.

Middleton (19-3 overall) heads to the postseason having won 12 of its last 13 games, including its two games last week.

In the Cardinals’ win over Beloit Memorial, junior forward Alexis Thomas poured in 20 points. Freshman post Hannah Flottmeyer added nine points, while junior guard Bria Lemirande scored eight and junior wing Carlee Lemirande and sophomore forward Halle White both added seven.

Although Middleton more than doubled the Purple Knights, it shot just 5-of-28 from three-point land and committed 20 turnovers. The Cardinals also got to the free throw line 39 times, but made just 23 (59.0%).

“The Beloit game was Senior Night and not a great challenge for the team,” Kind said. “Even though the offense was not particularly sharp, we showed some signs of progress in our defensive effort and the execution of our zone offense. And Beloit showed improvement, which is a good sign for the conference and an indication that their new coaching staff is making some inroads with the program.”

Middleton then played one of its better games of the season and rolled past Craig Saturday afternoon.

White, who returned just two weeks ago from a season-long shoulder injury, was sensational with a career-high 22 points. Sophomore wing Claire Staples had 15 points, Bria Lemirande added 13 points and Thomas had 11.

Craig senior guard Delaney Schoenenberger had a game-high 30 points and Annie Schumacher added 20. But the Cardinals slowed down the rest of the Cougars.

“The Craig game was a big game for us and we played one of our better all-around games in recent weeks,” Kind said. “We showed more focus, and despite big games from Schoenenberger and Schumacher, we were able to be in control for the majority of the game. 

“It was the most effective use of our posts against the zone to date. Halle White and (freshman post) Hannah Flottmeyer did a good job of making themselves available inside and being productive once they got the ball. Craig seemed focused on stopping our perimeter shooting, which allowed the inside looks and penetration dribbles.”

White had 13 of her 22 points in the first half as Middleton grabbed a 45-38 lead at the break.

The Cardinals shot a blistering 17-of-28 from the floor in the first half (60.7%), while Craig shot 14-of-25 (56.0%).

Middleton dominated the boards in the second half and got several second chance points. The Cardinals built a 65-52 lead midway through the second half and held a double-digit advantage down the stretch.

Craig was forced to abandon its zone defense and Middleton carved up the Cougars’ man-to-man defense.

“It was nice to do that after a steady diet of zone defenses for the past couple months,” Kind said. “I think it's a sign of the progress we've made attacking the zone.”

Now comes the second season — one the Cardinals can’t wait for.

“There's no doubt that we can make another run at state this year,” Thomas said. “It's been our goal since the beginning of the season and we're not going to let that dream of ours not come true!


Feb. 20

Middleton 87, Janesville Craig 74

Janesville Craig ............... 38 36 — 74

Middleton ....................... 45 42 — 87

JANESVILLE CRAIG — Brittingham 6 0-0 12, Carlson 2 2-5 6, Carlson 1 0-0 2, Foster 2 0-1 4, Schoenenberger 7 10-12 30, Schumacher 7 2-2 20. Totals 26 14-20 74.

MIDDLETON — Flottmeyer 2 1-2 5, Lemirande 2 5-5 9, Lemirande 5 2-2 13, Lemirande 3 1-2 9, Staples 5 2-2 15, Thomas 5 1-1 11, Webber 1 1-2 3, White 9 4-5 22. Totals 32 17-21 87.

3-point goals — MID 6 (Lemirande 1, Lemirande 2, Staples 3), JC 8 (Schoenenberger 3, Schumacher 4). Total fouls— MID 20, JC 17.


Feb. 18

Middleton 76, Beloit Memorial 37

Beloit Memorial .............. 15 22 — 37

Middleton ....................... 39 37 — 76

BELOIT MEMORIAL — Connor 3 4-4 10, Godwin-Dorsey 5 5-7 16, Griffin 0-0 , Marshall 1 0-0 2, Roegner 2 0-3 4, Williams 1 3-3 5. Totals 12 12-17 37.

MIDDLETON — Anderson 2-4 2, Ballweg 1 0-0 2, Flottmeyer 3 3-4 9, Hibner 1 0-0 3, Lemirande 4 0-1 8, Lemirande 3 0-0 7, Lemirande 1 2-4 4, McDonald 1 0-0 2, Schafer 2-3 2, Shea 3-4 3, Staples 1 5-9 7, Thomas 8 1-3 20, White 1 5-6 7. Totals 24 23-39 76.

3-point goals — MID 5 (Hibner 1, Lemirande 1, Thomas 3), BM 1 (Godwin-Dorsey 1). Total fouls—MID 14, BM 27.



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