Middleton's girls one step from state title

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Rob Reischel
Sitori Tanin and Middleton's girls basketball team upset No. 1 Mukwonago in the state semifinals Friday./Photo courtesy of Mary Bavery

ASHWUAUBENON — Their upset bid was on life support.

Middleton’s girls basketball team had watched its nine-point lead vanish against No. 1 Mukwonago in the WIAA Division 1 state semifinals held at the Resch Center Friday night. And with the game now deadlocked, 50-50, with 4 ½ minutes left, the Cardinals knew their “now or never” moment had arrived.

“We looked up at that (score)board and we just wanted it,” senior post Hannah Flottmeyer said. “And we knew that we weren’t playing to lose. We were playing to win and so we just came together and wanted it.”

And they proceeded to get it.

Middleton went on a stunning 12-0 run, which helped it shock Mukwonago, 62-53. The Cardinals, seeded fourth among the four Division 1 participants, won their 14th straight game and improved to 22-5. Mukwonago finished the year 24-2.

“That was a very good team and all week long, looking at film and watching the tape, we knew what an exceptionally talented team they were,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said of the Indians. “The girls really believed in what we were doing and just played a heck of a game defensively and handled the pressure very well offensively. They went out and earned everything they got.”

Middleton junior guard Evie Coleman had the night of her life, draining 5-of-9 three-pointers, scoring a career-high 19 points, and draining 11 straight points for the Cardinals during one stretch of the second half.

Coleman’s remarkable performance highlighted a night in which the Cardinals made 9-of-15 three pointers (60.0%). Middleton entered the game shooting just 26.0% from beyond the arc during the regular season.

“Honestly, I had no idea what to expect coming into this game,” Coleman said. “And honestly, now that It’s over, I don’t remember a lot of it. But I definitely tried my best and I did everything I could to get us that win and I’m so happy it happened.”

Flottmeyer had 11 of her 14 points in the first half, as Middleton jumped to a 30-27 lead at the break and gained the necessary confidence that it could pull off an upset. Junior forward Sitori Tanin added 10 points and 10 rebounds, senior point guard Charlotte Dunn played a magnificent floor game and had six assists, junior forward Karina Bursac had eight points and seven rebounds, while junior guard Josie Lemirande drilled both of her three-pointers and finished with six points.

Middleton advanced to the state championship game against second-seeded Bay Port (25-1), where the Cardinals will be gunning for the first state title in school history.

“If we can do it (Friday), we can do it (Saturday) night,” Flottmeyer said.

For a brief moment Friday, the Cardinals’ upset hopes looked bleak.

Middleton had done almost everything right in taking a 50-41 with 8:07 remaining. Then the Cardinals went scoreless for 3 ½ minutes — a stretch of six possessions without a point.

“I thought during that little stretch … we were being a little lackadaisical with the ball,” Kind said. “We were throwing lob passes instead of throwing sharp passes and we just kind of refocused and said, ‘Let’s make sure we’re doing some pass fakes and making some straight line passes instead of lob passes.’ ”

The Cardinals did exactly that.

First, Tanin aggressively attacked the rim and rebounded her own missed shot. Tanin then drew a foul, and the 42.9% free throw shooter calmly drained a pair of free throws to give Middleton a 52-50 lead with 4:19 remaining.

Mukwonago’s Dru Henning traveled, then Flottmeyer made 1-of-2 free throws. Bursac then stole the ball from Henning, went the other way, drew a foul and made 1-of-2 free throws to extend the Cardinals’ lead to 54-50.

Mukwonago turned the ball over on its next two possessions, as well, making it four straight turnovers. After one, Coleman drilled a pair of free throws. Then Tanin buried a 15-footer and suddenly Middleton’s lead was 58-50 with 1:25 remaining.

“Obviously not our best game. It didn’t go our way tonight,” Mukwonago coach Rick Kolinske said. “Sometimes the shots just don’t fall. Sometimes they don’t fall your way. And unfortunately, it wasn’t our night. It wasn’t our best game of the year.”

The Cardinals’ run wasn’t done.

Mukwonago came up empty on its next three possessions, as well. Bursac made the Indians pay by hitting 3-of-4 free throws and Tanin added another foul shot.

Amazingly, Middleton held Mukwonago scoreless for 4:16 during that run and the Cardinals knocked down 10-of-14 free throws (71.4%).

“That stretch was amazing,” Coleman said.

Truthfully, the Cardinals were pretty amazing all night.

The first half featured four ties and two lead changes and Middleton’s 8-3 lead was the biggest of the half.

Flottmeyer had a huge half with 11 points and four rebounds as Middleton picked apart Mukwonago’s 2-1-2 half court trap and got the ball inside for good looks. The Cardinals’ ability to handle the Indians’ pressure was a key to Middleton shooting 48.0% from the field (12-of-25).

“My team made me open and gave me those opportunities and I was especially able to look for Evie outside and she was just on fire tonight,” Flottmeyer said. “We really tried getting the ball inside, and then that creates opportunities for the rest of our teammates to get some points up on the board, too.”

Coleman opened the second half with one of the most impressive shooting stretches in state tournament history.

Coleman scored 11 straight points during a 3 minute, 20 second stretch as Middleton turned a 34-32 deficit into a 44-38 lead. The Cardinals never trailed again.

Coleman made all four of her shots in that run— including three straight 3-pointers and a driving lay-up. When Coleman hit another triple from near the top of the key with 8 minutes left, Middleton’s lead ballooned to 50-41.

“We were trying to mix it up on defense,” Kolinske said. “We didn’t want her to get too comfortable in anything. But the reality is she hit some big shots. She hit a lot of big shots tonight. She played very well.”

Mukwonago answered with its big run.

But Middleton never blinked.

Now, it’s on to the state championship game and a shot at history.

“It was going to take an outstanding effort on our part and I think one of the things I’m most proud about of these girls is they find a way to win,” Kind said. “And we’ve had some stretches where we’ve been down double digits and we’ve come back and won the game. Somehow they find an extra gear and find a way to win. So they’re very resilient and I’m just extremely proud of how they played tonight.”

Middleton 30 32 — 62

Mukwonago 27 26 — 53

MIDDLETON — Coleman 6-10 2-3 19, Lemirande 2-2 0-0 6, Tanin 3-10 3-4 10, Bursac 2-9 4-6 8, Dunn 0-1 1-2 1, Flottmeyer 6-12 2-3 14, Roquet 1-2 1-2 4. Totals 20-46 13-20 62.

MUKWONAGO — Beyer 4-13 6-6 16, Lopez 0-2 2-4 2, Cera 4-9 0-0 10, Andersen 6-15 2-3 15, Monogue 1-1 0-0 3, Henning 3-9 1-2 7. Totals 18-49 11-15 53.

3-point goals — MID 9-15 (Coleman 5-9, Lemirande 2-2, Tanin 1-1, Roquet 1-1, Bursac 0-1, Dunn 0-1); MUK 6-21 (Beyer 2-7, Cera 2-6, Andersen 1-5, Monogue 1-1, Lopez 0-1, Henning 0-1). Rebounds — MID 10-24-34 (Tanin 10, Bursac 7, Flottmeyer 7, Coleman 6); MUK 10-21-31 (Andersen 8, Beyer 6). Assists — MID 15 (Dunn 6); MUK 10. Turnovers— MID 18, MUK 17. Steals — MID 7 (Bursac 4); MUK 11 (Henning 4, Beyer 3). Blocks — MID 4 (Coleman 2); MUK 4 (Andersen 2, Henning 2). Total fouls — MID 12; MUK 20.


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