AUGUSTA — A few nerves may have hurt the Madison girls basketball team at the foul line, but those butterflies never got in the way of its defense.

Madison played strong defense throughout Tuesday afternoon’s 43-30 victory over Traip Academy in the Class C South quarterfinals.

“I thought we played very good defense,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “We tried to keep them off balance and I think we did a pretty good job with that.”

No. 4 Madison (13-7) will play No. 8 Searsport in the semifinals Thursday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center. No. 12 Traip finished 8-12.

Madison used a variety of defenses to keep the Rangers at bay, including fullcourt, man-to-man pressure and a two-three zone. The Bulldogs’ defensive effort helped contribute to 20 Traip turnovers, including 14 in the first half.

“We switched it up a lot,” Madison senior forward Erin Whalen said. “We had different sets for when we made it, we missed it, and we ended up going into that zone in the second half because we thought that would work well.”

“In the first half, they pressured us a little bit and we kind of panicked. We expected it but we made silly passes, tried to go too fast at times,” Traip coach Scott Blake added. “The last three weeks, four weeks of the season, we’d actually taken really good care of the ball. We should be used to it. Every team we’ve played this year has pressured us. It’s nothing new.”

Madison led 25-12 at the half, with Sydney LeBlanc scoring nine of her 10 points in the second quarter, when the Bulldogs began to pull away. Madison’s dominance on the boards was a major factor in the game. The Bulldogs grabbed 37 rebounds, including 13 offensive, to Traip’s 25.

“I thought we could get more offensive boards than we did. We gave up some offensive boards we shouldn’t have. We just didn’t box out,” Blake said.

Added Whalen: “We put in a lot of effort, so that helped in getting rebounds.”

Madison negated the Rangers size advantage by being aggressive and attacking the basket. Traip was in foul trouble early and point guard Kiara Perez and forward Marina Casey each sat in the third quarter with four fouls.

“They have some big kids there. They have some big young kids there, too. So they’re going to be back,” Veneziano said. “We were kind of the aggressors with them. We thought we could get them into foul trouble, which we did.”

Madison led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, but trouble making free throws in the fourth allowed Traip to linger in the game. After making 8 of 10 foul shots in the first half, Madison made just 13 of 28 in the second half. With the win, Veneziano was able to joke about it after the game.

“We work on that quite a bit. I guess we need to stop working on it and see what happens,” Veneziano said. “You get ahead and you want to put the final nail in the coffin, so you get a little bit nervous.”

LeBlanc and Madeline Wood each scored 10 points for Madison, while Whalen grabbed 12 rebounds. Casey led Traip with 13 points.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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