WALES — A sleepy start between the Madison and Oak Hill boys basketball teams turned into a furious finish.

Jacob Meader scored 24 points, then saw Joshua Linkletter and Vern Worthen make clutch plays in overtime after he fouled out to lift Madison to a 53-48 victory over Oak Hill in Mountain Valley Conference action in Wales.

Madison improved to 5-2 with the victory, while the Raiders fell to 3-4.

“That was a test of will really, I think,” Madison coach Jason Furbush said. “We were in foul trouble the whole game. My big guy, Thomas (Dean) was in foul trouble, Meader was in foul trouble, (Eric) Wescott was in foul trouble. We had some combinations on the floor that aren’t used to playing together very much. It was an adventure at times, but they stuck it out.”

Oak Hill got 17 points, 10 rebounds and four steals from Gavin Rawstron and 12 points and 11 rebounds from Gabe Samson, but couldn’t put the game away despite taking its first lead at 45-43 with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.

“They’re getting it,” said coach Tom Smith, whose team has no seniors and started four sophomores and freshmen. “The positives do outweigh the negatives. With such a young team, they have to learn how to win the close games. This is a true test for them.”

Wescott added 11 points and Caden Franzose had 10 for the Bulldogs, who were tied at 48 but without Meader in overtime when the ball went to Linkletter with 57 seconds left. He knocked down a jumper from the corner, his first basket of the game, to put Madison ahead by two, and Worthen then made a free throw and got a steal, forcing Madison to foul and send Wescott to the line with 12.5 seconds left. The senior hit both shots to all but seal the game.

“It was basically a must-win,” said Furbush, whose team had dropped two straight after a 4-0 start. “We’ve got Spruce Mountain and Winthrop coming up. We’ve got a tough two games, so this was a must-win. And we made it, somehow.”

Madison led by as many as 12 in a low-scoring first half, but saw its chances at a victory slipping away when Samson had a layup and then, after stealing the inbounds pass, a putback to put the Raiders ahead for the first time, 45-43, with 10 seconds remaining.

Madison had an answer, however, as Franzose drew a foul and knocked down both pressure-packed free throws to tie the game at 45 and force overtime. Oak Hill took the first lead of the extra period on a pair of Rawstron free throws, but Wescott hit a pair of free throws to tie the game again, then hit another to put Madison ahead 48-47 with 1:24 left.

Oak Hill got what appeared to be a game-changing break when Meader, dominant all game long, fouled out with 1:19 to play and Alex Fournier (nine points, eight rebounds) hit a game-tying free throw, but the Bulldogs instead went ahead for good when Linkletter picked a perfect time for his first points.

“It really bumped up our confidence quite a bit,” said Meader, who had six rebounds to go with his game-high 24 points. “I was really happy that they all stepped up and we got the win.”

Oak Hill never had an answer for Meader, who scored 10 of Madison’s first 18 points to stake the Bulldogs out to the big lead, then scored their first eight points of the fourth quarter — including a go-ahead basket that made it 43-41 with 48 seconds remaining, one he had to work through a double team to score.

“The biggest thing with Jacob is the energy he brings, not just in games but in practice,” Furbush said. “You can’t teach that. He’s a sparkplug, and sometimes plays a little too aggressive, but I’d rather have that than him laying down.”

The Raiders couldn’t deny Meader on one hand, but they could keep up with him on the other. Oak Hill trailed 39-32 with 2:33 left in regulation when Samson had a putback and then Rawstron had a layup to suddenly make it a one-possession game eight seconds later.

Meader drove to bump the lead back up to five, but Caden Thompson hit a 3-pointer to make it 41-39 with 1:34, and Rawstron hit two free throws to tie the game with 1:06 to go. Meader had his go-ahead basket with 48 seconds left, but Samson had the next two baskets to put Oak Hill in front — if only for a moment.

“I hate to lose, I really do,” Smith said. “But this year it’s been more fun, watching these guys grow. And they’re going to grow. They’re going to win some ballgames.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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