MHS' girls basketball team is hoping for a chance to show its stuff

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
If Middleton’s girls basketball team has a season, junior McKenna Monogue (top) will be the Cardinals' top returning player./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

When you saw them last, Middleton’s girls basketball team was on the brink of the first WIAA Division 1 state championship in school history.

The Cardinals had reached the state tournament and were the No. 1 seed. Then, the WIAA cancelled the state tournament due to fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, Middleton head coach Jeff Kind is simply hoping people will get a chance to see his team play in the 2020-21 season.

While teams across the state began practicing Nov. 16 and many have already had multiple games, things are on hold at MHS. Public Health Madison & Dane County issued Emergency Order #10 on Nov. 17, which prohibits indoor gatherings of any size.

While Kind is optimistic his team will eventually have a season, the Cardinals are currently in a holding pattern.

“I really look forward to this group and I hope that we can get to where we have some kind of season,” Kind said. “There are so many important things athletes gain from working together and competing that I hope we would all do everything we can to make it happen.”

If the Cardinals get a chance to play, they’ll have to replace one of the greatest senior classes in school history.

Forward Sitori Tanin, a three-year starter and a University of Loyola recruit, was named first-team all-state and first-team all-Big Eight last year. Senior guard Josie Lemirande and senior forward Karina Bursac were named second-team all-conference, while senior guard Evie Coleman earned honorable-mention all-conference honors.

Forwards Kendall Roquet and Berkley Smith, along with guards Megan Schwartz and Makenzie Hodson were all key contributors, as well.

That senior class helped Middleton reach the state championship game in 2019, where it dropped a 50-49 decision to Bay Port. Last season, the Cardinals went 25-1 and were in the midst of a 20-game winning streak when the state tournament was canceled.

“It was a terrific group,” Kind said. “They were ready to go and try winning a state title.”

If the Cardinals can get on the court this year, they’ll be led by junior wing McKenna Monogue.

A year ago, Monogue was named second-team all-conference after finishing fourth on the team in scoring (7.7), fourth in rebounding (3.7) and third in assists (2.5). Monogue was also second on the team in three-point field goals (34), shot 40.0% from beyond the arc and shot 48.4% from the field.

“She’s our most established returning scorer,” Kind said. “She has great three-point range, good post moves and is a very good passer. She'll probably be the focus of opponents' defense.”

Middleton’s senior class of Mel Accola, Molly Gaab, Bri Acker, Andrea Young, Lauryn Abozeid and Amber Kaplan didn't play a great deal last year. But Kind liked what he saw from them each day in practice, and believes several are ready for much bigger roles.

“While these six returning seniors did not get a ton of playing time, they practiced every day against one of the best starting groups in the state,” Kind said. “They helped fuel our improvement and would often more than hold their own competing with the starters.

“I look to see some of these players exhibit their skills for others to see. Molly is an excellent defender, Mel is a good rebounder and post defender, they each have strengths that can contribute to team success.”

From the junior class, guard Milanne Dahmen is a three-point threat. Others such as Erin Schleusner, Ellie Frisch, Katie Cowling, Emily Tsipis and Devan Utter could all carve out roles.

“There is a scrappy competitive group of players who could compete for spots on the roster and in the rotation,” Kind said. “It will be nice to see the competition they bring.”

The sophomore class is a gifted one and should provide a lot of help.

Audrey Deptula will likely step into a scoring role.

“She has a good skill threat and scoring ability from outside and driving to the basket,” Kind said.

Evin Jordee has terrific versatility both offensively and defensively. Sierra Pertzborn has great length and potential to develop as a scorer.

Now, Kind is just keeping his fingers crossed that he’ll be able to eventually work with this group and have some type of season.
“I think the team will develop a great ‘we’ mentality and have a strong desire to improve,” he said. “I think they have a bunch of fun personalities and we really look forward to working with them.”

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