MADISON — When the Madison Area Memorial High School boys basketball team was able to turn its tight defense into offensive opportunities against Monmouth Academy on Monday night, things finally started working for the Bulldogs.

Down 12 points with just over five minutes left in the third quarter, Madison’s ability to score in transition turned the game around. The Bulldogs took the lead in the final minutes of the third, then held on for a 44-41 Mountain Valley Conference win. Madison is 4-1, Monmouth is 3-2.

“We got some steals, and it just all connected, for the first time all game,” said Madison guard Nick Morales, who scored nine of his game-high 15 points in the second half. “That’s what we always like to do. As soon as we started to get it, we started clicking.”

Monmouth led 29-17 with 5:25 left in the third when Kasey Smith converted a three-point play. From there, the Bulldogs went on a 16-0 run. Madison took the lead when Ty Cowan sank a pair of free throws when Monmouth coach Lucas Turner was issued a technical foul with 1:06 left in the third. Cowan’s foul shots gave Madison a 30-29 lead, and seconds later, Mark Linkletter sank a 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs up 33-29.

Much of Madison’s run came off points caused by turnovers. The Mustangs gave the ball up six times in the third quarter.

“Madison is really good with pressure. They made a bucket, and we had a couple minute lapse where their pressure got to us,” Turner said.

Madison led by as many as six points in the fourth quarter, and held a 42-41 lead and the ball with 2:50 to play. Monmouth was content to sit back in its 2-3 zone and let the Bulldogs run time off the clock. The Mustangs began to defend with just over a minute to play, and the move worked. Madison was called for an offensive foul with 57.9 seconds left in the game.

“They’re willing to take a one possession ball game down to one minute, I’ll play situational basketball with them,” Turner said. “I have a good basketball team, only down a point, and it worked out because they turned the ball over. We were only down one with the basketball.”

The Mustangs called timeout with 16.8 seconds left, but were unable to make the go ahead shot. Cowan sank a pair of free throws for Madison with 5.4 seconds to play, and Hunter Richardson’s long three at the buzzer was short.

“In Boothbay (a 51-46 loss on Friday) we didn’t hit our free throws. Tonight we hit our free throws, and that was the difference,” Madison coach Jason Furbush said.

Throughout the game, Madison had trouble against Monmouth’s 2-3 zone. The Bulldogs, who had seen nothing but man-to-man defense in the first four games, were too passive, Furbush said.

“Their 2-3 was very effective tonight. Our guys weren’t preapred for it, and we didn’t knock down shots like we should have. We were being too patient,” Furbush said.

“We didn’t want to get beat at rim. Madison is very quick. They’ve got really good guards, and so our game plan coming in was, if they’re going to beat us with guards, they’re going to beat us shooting. I thought we rotated pretty well. I thought we took them out of their rhythm,” Turner said.

Richardson had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Monmouth. Cowan had 10 points for Madison.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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