MIDDLETON — Prior to their birth, the Lemirande triplets were identified in the womb as Baby A, Baby B and Baby C.
That designation provided a name cue for their parents, Lynne and Tim, after Alyssa, Bria and Carlee entered the world, in that order.
“A-B-C,” Alyssa Lemirande said.
The Lemirandes have become a familiar name in area girls basketball over the years, first while winning state titles in youth basketball with their father as a coach and later playing for the Middleton High School girls team.
This season — their senior season — the sisters start for the Cardinals (23-3), who will face De Pere (24-2) in a WIAA Division 1 state tournament semifinal at 8:15 p.m. Friday at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon.
“It’s great,” Alyssa Lemirande said after practice Tuesday. “It is a perfect way to end my three years playing (on varsity). I couldn’t think of anything better than to go to state. That was our goal, our dream, ever since we were in eighth grade. … It’s so fun playing together. It’s just one of the best things.
“It is bittersweet that it is coming to an end. It’s been a great ride, but it is sad that after this we’re never going to play together again.”
The Lemirande sisters, Alexis Thomas and Katrina Anderson are the seniors for Middleton, which also has seven juniors, three sophomores and a freshman.
“It’s a perfect way to end my career at Middleton,” said Bria Lemirande, a 5-foot-8 point guard who earned first-team All-Big Eight Conference honors this season.
Bria Lemirande, who took to the sport first among the three sisters, was on the varsity as a freshman. Alyssa Lemirande, a 5-8 guard who was a second-team all-conference pick along with Thomas this season, made varsity at the beginning of her sophomore year. Carlee Lemirande, a 5-10 guard, was added during her sophomore season.
All three sisters were on Middleton’s state team two years ago as sophomores, when Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels’ Arike Ogunbowale scored a state-record 55 points in an 86-76 overtime victory over the Cardinals in a Division 1 state semifinal. Bria Lemirande totaled 11 points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes, Alyssa Lemirande scored seven points in 19 minutes and Carlee Lemirande had one point in 1 minute.
But this year takes on added meaning because the sisters all are primary contributors on a deep team, which plays a fast tempo, uses pressure defense and substitutes frequently.
“I knew I wasn’t going to play much (two years ago at state), so this is really exciting because we are all starting,” Carlee Lemirande said. “It is an unreal experience.”
The fourth-seeded Cardinals advanced to state with a 71-66 victory over top-seeded Mukwonago in the sectional semifinal last Thursday and a 65-38 decision over third-seeded Madison East in the sectional final Saturday in Janesville.
“It’s the best thing ever, honestly,” Carlee Lemirande said. “Thursday’s game was close and it was super-exciting. We couldn’t wait for Saturday’s game. It’s what we have been working for. All the hard work paid off. It’s so exciting.”
Middleton coach Jeff Kind said the sisters -- who turn 18 next month -- are unique in their own right, but what stands out most to him is “they are all great kids.”
The three sisters consider each other best friends. Alyssa Lemirande is shy, Bria can be funny and sarcastic while Carlee Lemirande is regarded by the sisters as the most outgoing of the three.
“She does her thing,” Bria Lemirande said about Carlee. “She doesn’t change if someone says something.”
Middleton, which shared the Big Eight title with Sun Prairie, and De Pere, the Fox River Classic champion, each prefer to push the pace.
“They are extremely scrappy,” Kind said. “I like the way they play. They push the ball up and down the floor. It looks like a pretty fast-paced game. I hope they don’t have someone score 55 points on us.”
Kind laughed when he said that, but Ogunbowale’s performance has stuck with him.
“It still haunts me,” Kind said. “I haven’t forgotten.”
The Lemirande sisters believe that trip two years ago and the Cardinals’ familiarity with the Resch Center will prove helpful.
“It’s more calming knowing what to expect,” said Bria Lemirande, Middleton’s leading scorer. “We won’t be blindsided on what is coming up.”