MHS girls set for Madison Memorial

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Karina Bursac and Middleton's girls basketball team face Madison Memorial in a sectional semifinal Thursday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

There’s an axiom in sports about how hard it is to beat a team three straight times.

Truth is, that’s a total myth.

In the National Football League, for example, 20 teams have had to face a divisional opponent in the playoffs after beating them twice in the regular season since the 1970 merger. Thirteen of those teams won the third matchup (65.0%).

A study in women’s college volleyball showed that the team winning the first two matches also won the third match 75% of the time.

Middleton’s girls basketball team certainly hopes this long-standing adage proves to be a fable.

The second-seeded Cardinals meet third-seeded Madison Memorial in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal Thursday at 7 p.m. at Verona High School. The winner advances to the sectional final Saturday at 1 p.m. at Janesville Craig against either top-seeded Sun Prairie or fifth-seeded Madison East.

Middleton won the first two games against Memorial by an average of 23.5 points per game. And the Cardinals are hoping for more of the same Thursday.

“It’s always a challenge playing a team three times and we’re just happy to be playing right now,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “We know them, they know us and we’ll just lace them up and go at it.”

Cardinals junior guard Josie Lemirande agreed.

“We’ve beaten them the last two times by a pretty good amount, but you never know,” she said. “The playoffs are a totally different game and it’s kind of just another season. Teams step up and I think it’ll be a good game.”

Middleton defeated Memorial, 67-46, on Dec. 6. Both junior guard Evie Coleman and Tanin had 16 points for the Cardinals that night.

Middleton then defeated the Spartans, 63-37, on Jan. 25. Coleman again led the way with 16 points, while Tanin had 14.

Middleton has won 11 straight games and is 19-5 overall. The Spartans have won seven in a row and are also 19-5.

“You know they always say it’s hard to beat a team three times, but I think if we play the game we know how to play, then they won’t be able to get shots up on us,” Tanin said. “If we can keep tossing in our 1-3-1 and then going back to man I think that really helps.”

Memorial suffered a major blow early in the year when junior Leilani Kapinus — the state’s highest rated player in the Class of 2020 — tore her ACL. Junior guard Emmoni Rankins has stepped up and is averaging 14.7 points per game — including 17.0 in her last six games.

“Rankins has been scoring for them,” Kind said. “They’ve got a nice team, they put a lot of pressure on you.”

But Middleton is one of the hottest teams in the state and can beat you in a bevy of ways.

Tanin, a coveted player by several Division 1 colleges, leads the Cardinals in scoring (13.2) and rebounding. Senior post Hannah Flottmeyer has been a consistent force all season and is second in scoring (10.9) and rebounding (7.0).

Coleman has made a team-high 36 three-pointers and is averaging 9.9 points per game. Senior Charlotte Dunn has made great strides at point guard and leads the team in assists (2.7) and steals (1.3).

Junior Karina Bursac (8.2 points, 5.3 rebounds) does a little bit of everything. Lemirande and junior Kendall Roquet have also developed into high-level reserves.

Add it all up and Middleton is hoping its third game with Memorial is much like the first two.


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