Middleton's girls hammer Verona

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Rob Reischel
Charlotte Dunn and Middleton's girls basketball team knocked off Verona on Dec. 20./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Jeff Kind doesn’t need to go into Tony Robbins-mode when Verona comes to town.

Kind, Middleton’s girls basketball coach, simply needs to point at the schedule.

“With Verona, we don’t have to sell anything,” Kind said. “It’s just one of those games. The kids know it’s a big game.”

And on Dec. 20, Middleton gave a big-time performance.

The Cardinals got 16 points and 12 rebounds from senior post Hannah Flottmeyer and junior forward Sitori Tanin had 14 of her 18 points in the second half as Middleton drilled Verona, 65-49. Senior guard Charlotte Dunn added 10 points and did a masterful job getting the Cardinals into their offense, while junior forward Karina Bursac added nine points and eight rebounds.

“We’re slowly progressing and it’s really fun to see our improvement each game,” Flottmeyer said. “And it’s really exciting because we know what happens when we escalate this way. And it’s exciting to know what can happen in the future, but it’s something day to day we’re working on.”

Middleton improved to 7-2 overall and remained tied for first place in the Big Eight Conference with Madison Memorial at 6-1. Verona fell to 5-4, 4-3.

“My biggest thing is just communication,” Dunn said. “There’s no way we can have success if we’re not communicating. Tonight, we did a great job talking and getting to the right spot.”

Middleton’s bigs did a terrific job getting to the right spot, sharing the ball and creating easy looks.

The 5-foot-11 Flottmeyer made 7-of-12 shots from the field, was a force on the glass and added two steals and two blocks. The 6-foot-2 Tanin was in foul trouble in the first half, but made 6-of-10 shots in the second half. And the 5-foot-11 Bursac made 4-of-7 shots.

“We definitely have a lot of potential,” Flottmeyer said of Middleton’s three inside players. “The quick passing, finding the openings, I think we’re connected in a way. But the chemistry there, it makes it all flow really well.”

The trio also did a masterful job of working a high-low game that led to several shots at or near the basket. And the three bigs helped Middleton outrebound Verona, 41-27.

“I thought we finished a lot better in the lane,” Kind said. “We got a lot of points in there and that’s where we can make a living. We’ve missed a ton of those shots inside this year. Now we’ve just got to keep finishing like that.”

Flottmeyer agreed.

“I think we were really able to work together as a team this game,” Flottmeyer said. “We definitely took advantage of some of the openings they gave us and it really was a team win tonight. Our defense really shut them down, but we were able to get it inside, which I love. We were able to do a lot off of that.”

Middleton also did a much better job defending Verona standout freshman guard Aaliyah Smith.

Smith entered the night averaging 22.7 points per game and was coming off a 39-point effort at Madison Memorial. And when Middleton and Verona met in November — a 70-63 Wildcats win — Smith erupted for 26 points.

Middleton played mostly man-to-man defense against Verona last month, though, and switched to primarily a 1-3-1 zone this time. That made it tougher for the lightning-quick Smith to get to the rim, and the Cardinals held her to 18 points on 7-of-21 shooting.

“I definitely had minutes on her in the first game,” Dunn said. “And she is such a threat and it’s challenging to get one person who can stop all aspects of her game. Her first step is there, it’s fast. She’s able to pull up, shoot the three. But our team defense tonight was really good and that’s what we needed. We needed to be a team to stop her.”

Middleton built a 30-21 halftime lead thanks in large part to a 22-11 advantage on the glass. The Cardinals’ rebounding dominance helped them get 11 more shots than Verona.

Middleton shot 12-of-30 from the floor (40.0%), while Verona was 6-of-19 (31.6%).

Tanin, Middleton’s leading scorer at 13.7 points per game, went to the bench less than 3 minutes into the game with two fouls. But the Cardinals didn’t miss a beat.

The game was tied, 12-12, midway through the first half when Middleton embarked on a 12-3 run.

Junior guard Evie Coleman started the fun with a three-pointer, then Dunn scored, was fouled and hit the free throw to give Middleton an 18-12 lead. After Verona closed within 20-15, Flottmeyer scored four straight points to give the Cardinals a 24-15 edge.

Middleton’s lead grew to as many as 12 and was nine at the break. A major reason was the dynamic Smith shot just 1-of-9 against Middleton’s 1-3-1 zone and had just two points at halftime.

Meanwhile, Flottmeyer had eight points and six rebounds in the first half, while Bursac had six points and five rebounds.

“When we can use our bigs like we did tonight, I’m going to find ‘em and I love it,” Dunn said. “They’re there and they’re ready. And they’re like, ‘You pass it, we’re ready and we’re not making a mistake.’ ”

Middleton didn't make many mistakes in the second half, either.

Tanin, eager to make up for lost time, scored five points during an early 7-2 run as Middleton stretched its lead to 37-23. That was the start of an impressive second half where Tanin had 14 of her 18 points.

“I thought she did a nice job playing with the foul trouble and staying composed,” Kind said of Tanin. “She kept a good attitude and second half she played really well.”

Verona pulled within eight points three times, the last at 45-37 with 8:36 left. But Middleton smacked the Wildcats with a 10-3 burst and stretched its advantage to 55-40.

Dunn spearheaded that run with seven of her points, including a nifty, old-fashioned three-point play that pushed Middleton’s lead to 15.

Verona never got closer than 12 after that, and Middleton headed to the holiday break feeling awfully festive.

“We’re improving. We’re improving,” Kind said. “This was a good step for us.”


Dec. 20

Middleton 65, Verona 49

Verona ………………. 21 28 — 49

Middleton …………. 30 35 — 65

VERONA — Rae 1 0-0 2, Briggs 8 4-6 25, K. Pederson 1 2-4 4, Smith 7 2-7 18. Totals 17 8-18 49.

MIDDLETON — Coleman 3 0-2 9, Lemirande 1 0-0 3, Tanin 8 1-4 18, Bursac 4 1-3 9, Dunn 3 4-4 10, Flottmeyer 7 2-4 16. Totals 26 8-17 65.

3-point goals — V 7 (Briggs 5, Smith 2), MID 5 (Coleman 3, Lemirande 1, Tanin 1). Total fouls — MID 16, V 18.


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