WINTHROP — The standings suggested it would be close. And up until the opening minute of the second quarter, Tuesday’s matchup between the Madison and Winthrop girls basketball teams was living up to the billing.

Then the Bulldogs showed how they’ve been able to beat all comers so far this season.

Madison scored 18 of the last 21 points of the second quarter, turning a one-point game into a blowout and setting the stage for a 53-38 victory over the Ramblers in a showdown of teams near the top of the Class C South standings.

“They challenged everything we did and we reacted very positively, I thought, to those challenges,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “We missed some (shots) early, but once some of our shots started to fall, it got even better.”

Madison, which was led by 18 points from Sydney LeBlanc, stayed perfect for the season, improving to 9-0. Winthrop, paced by 16 from Aaliyah Wilson-Falcone, fell to 7-3.

“It showed us the level of intensity we need to play at in order to be one of those successful teams,” Winthrop coach Joe Burnham said. “In the third quarter we showed a lot of heart, a lot of effort. Really, in the second half, actually. But maybe at that point it was too little, too late.”

As well as the Bulldogs have started this season, Veneziano said he looked at Tuesday’s matchup as a unique challenge.

“Of course. Every team we have to play has a challenge,” Veneziano said. “We have to come out and make sure we do the things that are going to help us as a team later on. (They were) what, 7-2? Hey, there’s a whole pile of Heal points in the making.”

Winthrop was keeping pace with the Bulldogs, drawing within 11-10 when Katie Perkins drove for a basket with 7:35 to go in the second, but any upset hopes were extinguished soon after. Madison responded with a 10-1 run and stretched it to an 18-3 surge that took up the final 6:30 of the half, forcing seven Winthrop turnovers and holding the Ramblers to a single field goal in 10 attempts.

“We all just started to pick each other up,” LeBlanc said. “We knew we had to pick it up because this wasn’t a game that we wanted to lose.”

“(I liked) our ability to run a little bit of offense and get the ball moving and some people moving,” Veneziano said. “I thought we took advantage of some of the things that ball movement and people movement are going to do for you.”

Winthrop tried to fight back in the third, scoring the first 10 points to cut the gap to 29-23 with 3:28 left, but Madison — despite not scoring for the first 6:33 of the quarter and not making a shot from the field until 56 seconds remained — answered with an 8-0 run to put the game back out of reach.

“We’re hoping we had plenty of time to right the ship,” said Veneziano, whose team also got 11 points from Lauren Hay and nine from Emily Edgerly. “But I think we’ve got to be respectful of them and understand that they’re a good team. They made a couple of baskets and started feeling good about themselves. We had to try to take that away.”

Winthrop got six points from Natalie Frost and five from Jillian Schmelzer.

“We’ve struggled all year just being a one-half team, and I think it happened again tonight,” Burnham said. “It teaches us that we’re not there yet, as much as we want to be and as hard as we’re working. It’s a long season, it’s a long process. We’re not there yet, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to get there.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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