AUGUSTA — If the Madison Area Memorial High School girls basketball team used the Mountain Valley Conference championship game as a tune-up for the Western Class C playoffs, the Bulldogs left the Augusta Civic Center floor knowing this: If they play defense in the tournament as well as they played defense in the second half Monday, the Bulldogs will make a run deep into the tournament.

Madison held Spruce Mountain to nine points in the second half, and scoreless over the game’s final 4 minutes, 56 seconds to take a 55-39 win and the conference championship.

“I’ve got two girls who have been on this floor before,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “It’s good to get this experience.”

Madison (15-3) is the No. 2 seed in the Western C tournament, and will play a quarterfinal game at the Augusta Civic Center against either Lisbon or Waynflete 3:30 p.m. Feb. 21. Spruce Mountain (17-1), the No. 5 seed in the Western B tournament, will play a preliminary round game against No. 12 Poland on Wednesday.

Ahead 32-30 at the half, Madison clamped down defensively in the second half. The Bulldogs held the Phoenix to three points in the third quarter, and limiting Spruce Mountain to one shot each possession was key, Veneziano said.

“If you’re going to give a Gavin Kane coached team two or three shots at the basket, they’re going to kill you,” Veneziano said.

Added Madison’s Samantha Bruce: “We just had to work hard and help out the other players. We kept playing together.”

In the second half, Madison did a better job defending Spruce Mountain sharpshooter Kathryn Ventrella, who hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points in the first half. In the second half, Ventrella didn’t get the open shots she saw early in the game, and finished with 20 points.

“They simply played the game a little harder than we did,” Kane said.

Ahead 44-39 with just under five minutes to play, the Bulldogs scored the last 11 points of the game. Throughout the game, Madison played patient offense, looking for a good shot. Bruce scored 20 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Alex Jarvais and Emily McKenney each had seven points.

“I thought we ran our offense pretty well,” Veneziano said. “We had good ball movement, and our willingness to be aggressive was very good.”

Following the game, the MVC announced its all-star teams and coaches of the year. Hall-Dale’s Carylanne Wolfington was the MVC Girls Player of the Year, while Dirigo’s Cody St. Germain was Boys Player of the Year. Kane was named Girls Coach of the Year. Boys Coach of the Year went to Madison’s Mike Packard.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]

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