MONMOUTH — Scott Wing will likely break out a new halftime speech the next time his Monmouth Academy girls basketball team takes the floor.

Wing implored the Mustangs to make the first four minutes of the third quarter count against Mountain Valley Conference rival Madison — which they did — but they nearly forgot to finish things out. Despite connecting for only one field goal over the final 12 minutes Friday night, Monmouth held on for a 53-38 win over the visiting Bulldogs.

The inside presence of Kaeti Butterfield, the outside shooting of Tia Day and the overall guard play against a persistent full-court press in the second half was too much for Madison. Butterfield, who scored all 10 of her points in the second half, provided the post play the Mustangs (12-1) desperately needed in the absence of Destiny Clough, who spent most of the final 16 minutes on the bench in foul trouble. Butterfield’s 3-pointer with 4:24 remaining in the third quarter ran the Monmouth lead to its largest of the night, 43-23, and she plunged the final dagger through the collective Madison heart with another from beyond the arc with 3:35 remaining that sealed the victory.

“I just complimented them on coming out and playing a good first four minutes of the third quarter,” Wing said. “That’s what we asked them to do in the locker room, because that’s usually the key thing. Then I think they thought the game was over maybe.”

“Madison’s one of the teams that whenever we play them, they give us a hard time,” said Butterfield, who combined with Clough to grab 18 rebounds. “When someone gets in foul trouble, you really have to step up and try to do everything almost perfectly to replace them.”

The only problem for Monmouth was that Butterfield’s final bucket was the lone Mustang field goal of the final quarter. The Mustangs went 6 of 8 from the free throw line, though, to ice it.

Monmouth really started to assert itself in the second quarter. Audrey Fletcher’s short jumper as time expired in the first period was an omen that more was likely coming for the home team. Day scored 12 of her game-high 15 points in the second quarter, as Monmouth began to find the shooting touch which had eluded it early on.

A Lauren Hay (nine points) free throw for Madison tied the game with 3:57 left until halftime, but that’s when Day took over. She made a pair of deep 3-pointers as part of a 16-5 run for the Mustangs to close out the first half — a run that continued with Monmouth scoring 11 of the first 13 points in the third period.

“We always preach to keep playing hard and we’ll eventually wear teams down,” Wing said. “Once we started hitting some shots, things were a little more in our control.”

When Butterfield hit the first of her two key 3-pointers, Madison coach Al Veneziano recognized that something needed to change. With Hay unable to find good looks inside, the Bulldogs went to a more intense full-court defense to try and generate easy buckets off turnovers.

“They take you out of a lot,” Veneziano said of Monmouth. “They’re always moving and doing some good things, even off the ball. You have to play well with them and make sure you’re working hard and running your offense, moving the ball and moving the people. We needed to do that.

“I don’t know if we could do that (press) for a full 32 minutes, but we’ve got some things to work on. I’ve got some good stuff to think about for the next time we play them.”

Sydney LeBlanc led Madison with 13 points, 10 of which came in the first half. The Bulldogs pulled to within nine points with just over six minutes remaining on Hay’s bucket off the glass, but it was as close as they would get.

“It’s hard for the guards to see us in the post when they’re being overplayed, because everyone is all up in their face,” Butterfield said. “We just have to keep working to get open so that they can see us and get us the ball.”

When that happened, it forced Madison to foul late and send the Mustangs to the line.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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