MADISON — Entering Monday night’s game against Winthrop, the Madison boys basketball team was looking for that signature victory. The Bulldogs came into the game with 11 wins, but didn’t have that big Heal point-worthy victory that would jump them into the upper echelon of the Class C South standings.

Now, Madison has that resume-builder. With a strong defensive effort and a patient offense, the Bulldogs — ranked 10th in the region coming into the game — knocked off No. 2 Winthrop, 50-45.

“This was a huge win. We haven’t proved we could beat one of the top teams yet, and this proved it. That’s going to give us a ton of Heal points,” Madison senior Chase Malloy said.

Both teams are now 12-3.

Madison led 49-41 with 20 seconds left, but the Ramblers made things interesting. After Anthony Owens made a free throw with seven seconds left, he missed his second try but got the rebound and was fouled while making a shot. Owens made the free throw, and it was a 49-45 game with 5.6 seconds left.

However, Sean Whalen made a free throw for Madison with 4.2 seconds to play, ending Winthrop’s late rally.

“We did a great job defensively. Our help side was good. We could’ve rebounded a little better but our defensive effort was great,” Madison coach Jason Furbush said.

A key to the Bulldogs defense was the effort of sophomore guard Evan Bess, who came off the bench and did a nice job guarding Winthrop sharpshooter Jacob Hickey. The Ramblers’ leading scorer was held to nine points.

“I prepared all week. I knew I was going to come off the bench and guard (Hickey),” Bess said. “I was focused on his numbers. The belly button doesn’t lie when he’s moving.”

“They did a great job on Hickey. We probably did a poor job tonight of running him off screens as well as we’ve done in past games,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “Defensively in the first half, they really controlled the pace of the game. They limited our possessions. We wanted to get out and run more.”

The Bulldogs led 22-15 at the half and were patient on offense, looking for the good shot in the post or close to it rather than settling for a long jumper.

“We didn’t want to force anything. That’s been our goal all season. The last few weeks, we’ve been playing a lot better as a team on offense, and we looked good tonight,” said Malloy, who scored a team-high 16 points.

Added MacArthur: “They like to get the best shot possible. We expected that. We had too many breakdowns defensively tonight. In order to beat these guys, you’ve got to keep them out of the paint and make them shot jumpers, and we just didn’t do that.”

The Ramblers rallied to take a brief 27-26 lead midway through the third quarter when Spencer Steele (10 points) converted an old-fashioned three point play. With 17 seconds left in the third, Whalen made a 3-pointer to give Madison a 34-31 lead, which it would never relinquish.

Handling Winthrop’s defensive intensity was also a key, Furbush said.

“We knew if we could handle their pressure that we could be in this game. If we didn’t handle their pressure, they were going to beat us good,” Furbush said.

Mitch Jarvais had 15 points and 14 rebounds for Madison. Owens led the Ramblers with 17 points, 15 coming in the second half, and eight boards.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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