MADISON — The season is almost half complete, but the Madison Area Memorial High School boys basketball team is finally at full strength. In the preseason, seniors Dylan Price and Austin Kane each suffered a broken hand in practice. Price missed just two games, and on Thursday night against Monmouth Academy, Kane made his debut.
With two of their top players back in the lineup, the Bulldogs feel their best basketball is yet to come, and it started with a 53-37 win over Monmouth.
“We’re all coming together. We’re starting to gel more now that we have everyone back,” Price, who scored six points, grabbed six rebounds, and had four steals, said. “It’s time to play some team basketball and get it going.”
Kane scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his season debut. Madison (2-5) pulled away in the second half by playing tough defense. Ahead 22-20 at the half, the Bulldogs forced nine turnovers in the third quarter while pushing their lead to 36-26.
“I think we played better defense in the second half. That was the key to winning. We got a lot of layups out of our defense,” Madison coach Mike Packard said.
Added Price: “At halftime we talked a lot about defense. We had to play more intense, and I feel like we brought up the intensity.”
Aside from an 8-0 run in the second quarter that gave Monmouth (3-3) a short-lived 19-18 lead, the Mustangs never got into an offensive rhythm. Monmouth made just 10 of 47 2-point tries, and struggled to find good shots with Madison’s 6-foot-3 center Steven Lawrence defending the low post.
“Now, (Lawrence), he altered a lot of shots, and they definitely, on the defensive end, were bringing the help over and making the shots difficult,” Monmouth coach Lucas Turner said, “but I think we could have finished a few more than 10 of them tonight.”
The Mustangs defended the Bulldogs with a full-court trapping press throughout the game, but Madison had little trouble breaking the pressure and getting the ball up the court.
“We’ve practicing the press all week in practice. Any kind of press they’d throw at us,” Price said.
When Monmouth became more aggressive in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs found easy layups.
“We were not getting back well, and they were executing out of our trap. Our game plan coming in was to 2-2-1 (trap) tonight, and they did a good job of breaking it,” Turner said.
Lawrence scored 13 points to go with six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots for the Bulldogs. Billy Cummings and Brandon Goff each scored eight points to lead Monmouth, while Drew McFarren had nine rebounds.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242