A late-playoff atmosphere at Middleton High School was rewarded with a heavyweight bout worthy of its billing Friday night.
In a back-and-forth game in a packed gym, the host Middleton Cardinals rallied past the Madison Memorial Spartans 77-68 in a meeting of two of the top-four ranked teams in the state in girls basketball on Friday night.
Memorial jumped out to an early lead, which they maintained through most of the first half all the way to a 34-32 halftime advantage. The previously-undefeated Spartans maintained that through most of the second half as well, but Middleton made its move with three minutes left in the game.
Reserve Makenzie Hodson broke a 64-64 tie with a corner three, and from there, Middleton never trailed again en route to picking up a big win.
Hodson's shot was remarkable in that she had scored just eight points all year entering play on Friday night, and Middleton coach Jeff Kind said after the game that it was probably the biggest shot of her life.
Leading up to that moment, Sitori Tanin carried Middleton to its final rally, getting two and-one buckets down the stretch to help the Cardinals (15-1, 11-1) pull a half-game behind Memorial (15-1, 12-1) in the Big 8.
Tanin finished the game with 17 points and an astounding 21 rebounds. Aiding in the rally was McKenna Monogue, who hit two big three-point shots to help pull Middleton back into contention.
For Memorial, Leilani Kapinus scored a game-high 22 points, including 13 in the second half.
Five Middleton Cardinals reached double figures in the victory. Middleton was ranked #4 in the state entering play, with Madison Memorial ranked #2, according to WisSports.net.
Middleton: Sitori Tanin 17, McKenna Monogue 14, Josie Lemirande 13, Kendall Roquet 11, Evie Coleman 10, Karina Bursac 6, Makenzie Hodson 3, Berkley Smith 3
Memorial: Leilani Kapinus 22, Charlotte Sweet 13, Liliana Garcia 10, Emmoni Rankins 8, Daiysha Brown 5, Natalie Rauwolf 5, Brooke Peters 3, Maya White Eagle 2