ASHWAUBENON — Growing up, Middleton junior Evie Coleman said she didn’t imagine playing in the WIAA state girls basketball tournament.
Needless to say, the shooting performance the 5-foot-9 guard turned in Friday night in a Division 1 semifinal against Mukwonago was beyond her wildest dreams.
“It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” Coleman said.
Coleman made five 3-pointers and scored 19 points — both career bests, she said — in leading fourth-seeded and eighth-ranked Middleton to a 62-53 upset victory over top-seeded and second-ranked Mukwonago at the Resch Center.
The Big Eight Conference champion Cardinals (22-5), who have won 14 consecutive games, were brimming with confidence after advancing to face second-seeded and fourth-ranked Bay Port in the title game at about 8:15 p.m. Saturday. Middleton, which has runner-up finishes in 1993, 2003 and 2011 in 11 state appearances, will seek its first title.
“If we can do it tonight, we can do it tomorrow night,” said 5-11 senior forward Hannah Flottmeyer, who scored 11 of her 14 points in the first half to help Middleton to a 30-27 lead.
Middleton scored 12 unanswered points down the stretch after Mukwonago (24-2) used a 9-0 run to tie the game at 50 with 4 minutes, 39 seconds remaining.
“One of the things I’m most proud of these girls is they find a way to win,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said.
Said Flottmeyer: “We looked at that board and we wanted it. We knew that we weren’t playing to lose. We were playing to win. We came together and wanted it.”
During the decisive 12-0 run, the Cardinals were 10-for-14 from the free throw line and junior forward Sitori Tanin, who had 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, sank a 15-foot jumper.
“I did not want to lose this game,” said Coleman, who moved to Middleton from Fort Atkinson prior to her sophomore year. “I never thought in a million years that I would even play in a state game, let alone win one. And that is all I wanted to do. Hannah is one of my best friends and the idea of my season ending with her made me so sad. And I could not let that happen.”
Coleman scored 11 consecutive points for the Cardinals — including three straight 3-pointers from the left wing — in helping turn a 34-32 second-half deficit into a 43-38 lead.
Flottmeyer said the Cardinals’ strategy became “just give Evie the ball. That’s pretty much it.”
You have free articles remaining.
Coleman, who entered the game averaging 9.8 points per game, made four of five 3-point shots in the second half, when she scored 16 points.
“I think our help-side (defense) could have been a little bit better overall,” said senior guard Grace Beyer, who led Mukwonago with 16 points. “We were playing for the post-ups. … (Coleman) hit some big shots from the outside we weren’t really expecting.”
Coleman — the Cardinals’ top 3-point threat, Kind said — entered the game shooting 32.7 percent from 3-point distance. She was 5-for-9 from 3-point range for Middleton, which shot 60 percent from beyond the arc (9-for-15).
Mukwonago coach Rick Kolinske said his team knew Coleman could shoot the 3, but said, “A lot of those were well beyond the 3-point arc — well beyond.”
Kolinske added: “She hit a lot of big shots tonight. She played very well. She picked the right time to do what she did tonight. They shot very well from 3.”
Senior forward Natalie Andersen, an Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis commit, had 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds for Mukwonago. But the Indians shot 36.7 percent from the field, including 31 percent in the second half, and saw their 23-game winning streak snapped.
“Obviously, it was not our best game,” Kolinske said. “It didn’t go our way tonight. Sometimes, the shots just don’t fall. Sometimes, it doesn’t bounce your way. It wasn’t our night.”
Kind said he believed it was Middleton’s best game of the season.
“That was a very good team,” Kind said. “All week long we were looking at film and watching the tape and we knew what an exceptionally talented team they were. The girls really believed in what we were doing and went out and just played a heck of a game defensively and handled the pressure pretty well offensively. They went out and earned everything they got.”
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.