WALES — The Madison girls basketball team never quite shook Oak Hill, but each time the Raiders made a run at the lead the Bulldogs had an answer.

In the end, guard play and an effective press led the Bulldogs to a 56-46 victory in the Mountain Valley Conference matchup Thursday night.

Madison improved to 6-2 in MVC play while Oak Hill fell to 4-4.

The Bulldogs led by as many as a dozen points in each half but the Raiders stayed within striking distance behind freshman Desirae Dumas (15 points) and sophomores Abby Nadeau and Sara Morang.

“They never stopped playing,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “That’s a young team that’s on the rise.”

The Raiders also made some young mistakes, committing 29 turnovers in the face of Madison full- and half-court pressure.

“I thought our zone press was working really well, better than our man-to-man press,” Madison point guard Madeline Wood said. “In doing that we can pick up the tempo and force teams to turn the ball over more.”

Madison led 19-9 at the end of the first quarter as junior Sydney LeBlanc (17 points) closed the quarter with a three from the right corner. The Raiders cut the lead to 19-16 but again the Bulldogs pulled away, this time behind junior Ashley Emery (16) who closed the quarter with a layup and a pair of 3s from the left side. Morang canned a 3-pointer from the left corner to cut the deficit to 31-23 at the break.

“That’s a quick team, they’re tenacious and they’ve got great transition,” Oak Hill coach Mike LaBonte said.

Oak Hill senior Bri Mulherin battled foul trouble all night, picking up her fourth in the second quarter and eventually fouling out in the fourth. Nadeau helped pick up the rebounding slack but things also opened up inside for Madison junior Lauren Hay who finished with 13 points.

“With Madeline in there at point guard, she distributes the ball very well, but we look to get the ball inside, too,” Veneziano said. “I think we’re making great progress. We lost to two good teams (Boothbay, Mountain Valley) but we play them both again this season.”

LeBlanc scored eight points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3s as the Bulldogs maintained a 10-point lead.

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