ASHWAUBENON — The first state title for the Middleton girls basketball team was within reach with only seconds remaining Saturday night at the Resch Center.
Then Bay Port junior forward/center Emma Nagel, the Fox River Classic Conference Player of the Year, took away Middleton’s golden opportunity.
With Bay Port trailing by one and 6.2 seconds remaining, the 6-foot Nagel took an inbounds pass, faked a handoff and scored with about 4 seconds remaining.
“I just took it to the rim and hoped for the best,” said Nagel, a Drake University soccer recruit who had 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
That became the winner as second-seeded and fourth-ranked Bay Port won its first championship in three state appearances, edging Big Eight Conference champion Middleton 50-49 and claiming the gold ball in the WIAA Division 1 title game.
The fourth-seeded and eighth-ranked Cardinals (22-6) had their 14-game winning streak snapped and finished as state runner-up for the fourth time in 11 state trips.
“Knowing we have come back from even further behind, we knew we could do it,” Middleton junior forward Sitori Tanin said. “But we didn’t end up in the right place. It was a dream to get here and we made it a reality. But we didn’t quite get the outcome.”
Middleton junior guard Josie Lemirande made four 3-pointers and scored a game-high 14 points. Lemirande’s 3-pointer from the left corner gave the Cardinals a 49-48 lead with 37 seconds to play.
“I knew we were down by two and I had to get our points on the board,” Lemirande said. “I threw it up there and it went in.”
Tanin totaled 13 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots and junior forward Karina Bursac added 10 points and eight rebounds. Freshman guard Emma Krueger and junior guard McKenzie Johnson led the Pirates (27-1) with 12 points apiece.
The Cardinals rallied from a 42-33 deficit, scoring 12 consecutive points and seizing a 45-42 lead.
Middleton's Kendall Roquet started the run with a three-point play, and Lemirande followed with a 3-pointer. Tanin scored baskets on consecutive drives, the second giving the Cardinals a 43-42 lead. Bursac converted a basket underneath, increasing the lead to three.
“It was a great game — back and forth,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “We dug ourselves a little hole. I think our kids showed a lot of resilience again coming back.”
The Pirates bounced back, and Nagel’s three-point play gave Bay Port a 47-46 lead with 2:17 to play. Junior Grace Krause made one of two free throws and the Pirates led 48-46 with 54.2 seconds left.
After Lemirande's 3-pointer lifted Middleton into the lead, Bay Port worked for a final shot. Middleton forced a jump ball with 6.2 seconds left, but the possession remained with Bay Port and led to the inbounds play from under the basket.
"It's the out-of-bounds play they run all the time, basically," Kind said. "They managed to slip a screen a little bit and get the drive to the basket."
After Nagel's go-ahead basket, the clock continued to run. Middleton inbounded with 2.4 seconds left, but the pass to junior guard Evie Coleman at midcourt was deflected and Bay Port came away with the victory.
In the first half, Tanin scored consecutive baskets underneath, the second tying the game at 15. The Pirates grabbed an 18-15 lead on Krueger’s three-point play after a putback, and Nagel’s basket increased Bay Port’s lead to five.
The Cardinals stormed back with a 7-0 run. Lemirande made two free throws with 3:55 left, then connected on a 3-pointer, tying the game at 20.
You have free articles remaining.
After Nagel picked up her third foul on a charge, Cardinals senior forward Hannah Flottmeyer took a pass from Tanin and converted inside, putting Middleton ahead 22-20.
But Bay Port responded with seven unanswered points. Krueger made two free throws, junior guard Alaina Abel scored on a drive and Krueger made a 3-pointer, giving her 10 points in the first half.
Tanin’s baseline jumper brought Middleton within 27-24 with 35.1 seconds left in the first half.
In the second half, Johnson sank a 3-pointer, giving Bay Port a 30-24 lead. The Cardinals cut their deficit to three, but the Pirates scored nine unanswered points and seized a 39-27 lead. Senior forward Peyton Coughlin connected on a 3-pointer and Nagel, Krueger and Abel followed with baskets during the 9-0 run.
Middleton came off a 62-53 upset victory over top-seeded and second-ranked Mukwonago in a semifinal Friday night.
Coleman made five 3-pointers and scored 19 points – including 16 in the second half — and Flottmeyer added 14 points and seven rebounds against Mukwonago.
Bay Port was led by several top-flight soccer players who helped the Pirates win the Division 1 soccer title last June.
Middleton fell to 7-4 after a 48-42 home loss to Bay Port on Dec. 28 and had an 8-5 record prior to winning 14 consecutive games, entering Saturday’s title game.
Middleton previously has runner-up finishes in 1993, 2003 and 2011.
"There are so many emotions that go through your mind," Kind said after Saturday's game. "But the biggest one I think is pride because looking back at the beginning of the season and where we were and where we came to, I just couldn't be prouder of these girls. It was a dream and we made the dream a reality to get here. It was a big dream at the beginning of the season. Once again, I couldn't be prouder of these girls."
Middleton used its 1-3-1 defense more extensively and its length effectively, Flottmeyer and Tanin developed into a potent inside tandem and Coleman emerged as a 3-point shooter as the season progressed. But Middleton didn’t use the 1-3-1 much Saturday night due to matchup concerns and primarily used its man-to-man defense, Kind said.
“Middleton is a very different team than when we played them,” Bay Port coach Kati Coleman said after her team defeated Kimberly 63-53 Friday night.
Nagel had 23 points and 16 points against Kimberly.
Middleton 24 25 — 49
Bay Port 27 23 — 50
MIDDLETON — Coleman 0-6 1-4 1, Lemirande 4-7 2-2 14, Tanin 6-13 1-6 13, Bursac 4-9 1-2 10, Dunn 1-4 0-0 3, Flottmeyer 1-2 0-0 2, Roquet 2-3 1-1 6. Totals 18-44 6-15 49.
BAY PORT — Krause 0-3 2-4 2, Krueger 3-7 5-5 12, Abel 2-4 1-2 5, Johnson 4-10 0-0 12, Nagel 5-10 1-1 11, Coughlin 2-5 0-0 6, McIntyre 1-7 0-0 2. Totals 17 9-12 50.
3-point goals — M 7-13 (Lemirande 4-5, Bursac 1-1, Roquet 1-1, Dunn 1-3, Coleman 0-3), BP 7-16 (Johnson 4-8, Coughlin 2-3, Krueger 1-4, McIntyre 0-1). Rebounds — M 12-20-32 (Tanin 10, Bursac 8); BP 11-20-31 (Nagel 13, McIntyre 7). Assists — M 10 (Tanin 3, Dunn 3); BP 8 (Krause 4, Nagel 2). Turnovers — M 9; BP 10. Steals — M 4 (Tanin, Bursac, Dunn, Lemirande 1); BP 6 (McIntyre 3). Blocks — M 6 (Tanin 5); BP 1 (Draak 1). Total fouls — M 13, BP 15.