AUGUSTA — The Madison girls basketball team’s Cinderella story has another chapter.

The 13th seed in the Class C South tournament field, the Bulldogs pulled off their second straight playoff victory, beating No. 12 Traip, 50-35, in the quarterfinals at the Augusta Civic Center.

The Bulldogs (7-13), who had to beat No. 4 Hebron Academy in the preliminary round just to reach the Civic Center, advance to the semifinals, where they’ll play No. 1 Boothbay on Thursday.

Madison junior Kathryn Worthen (51) tries to block a shot by Trai’s Molly Sawtelle during a Class C South quarterfinal game Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Coach Al Veneziano said he’s been happy to see the progress his team has made over the second half of the season after it scuffled in the first.

“This team came into this season with no starters back. Lauria LeBlanc was the only starter that we had coming back (and) she missed the first six weeks with an injury to her wrist,” Veneziano said. “We started with none, and we’re starting to develop into a team that is looking to move the basketball and score. I’m very excited about this group.”

LeBlanc and Abi Spaulding had 13 points apiece to lead Madison, which went on a 12-0 run to start the third quarter and turn an 18-16 lead into a 30-16 advantage, while Katie Worthen had 10 and Emily Edgerly had eight.

“It’s really awesome,” LeBlanc said. “Coming in as a 13th seed, they think that we’re not maybe up there like we should be, or not good enough. But I think we really proved ourselves today in this game.”

Addy Hale had 13 points for Traip (8-12), which saw its own underdog run, one that included a prelim victory over No. 5 Hall-Dale, come to an end.

“We started to foul and they started making foul shots, then we started breathing heavily, panicking, trying to rush stuff instead of just relaxing and playing the way we needed to play,” coach Scott Blake said. “I don’t think their pressure was really killing us, I just thought we were trying to do things too fast at times.”

Veneziano said he hasn’t been surprised to see his team turn a corner.

“In January, we got into a little bit of a rut. We were playing pretty good basketball, but we weren’t winning games,” he said. “We got to a point where we could play in the game, but we weren’t getting over the top to win the game. Now today, we made foul shots, we did some good things today.”

It was shaky at first, as Traip used its quickness and perimeter defense — Hale finished with seven steals — to take an 11-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. But Madison countered with a 7-0 run to end the second, with Spaulding scoring six points in the period to help fuel the rally.

“We really just started to work as a team,” Spaulding said. “We started talking, and we switched up our defense and we started actually running a different offense. It started working really well.”

In the third, the Bulldogs seized momentum and control of the game. Spaulding and Worthen had baskets, and after an Edgerly free throw, Worthen grabbed an offensive board and hit a jumper to make it 25-16.

Edgerly then got a steal and fed LeBlanc for a layup, and after Brooke McKenney hit a short shot, LeBlanc hit a free throw to finish off the 12-0 run.

Traip didn’t get on the board in the third until a Mia Perez basket with 2:06 to go.

“We talked about getting by people. … When we held the ball in front of them and tried to crossover in front of them, they took the ball away,” Veneziano said. “We tried to talk to them at halftime about making cuts to the basket, and making long cuts to the basket. Go hard.”

With Traip’s quickness neutralized, Madison’s size became more of an issue. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Rangers 48-27, with Spaulding (13 rebounds), Edgerly and McKenney (seven apiece) leading the effort on the glass.

“In the first quarter, I feel like they had a lot of second (chance) putbacks,” LeBlanc said. “Coach said we needed to stop those, and we needed to rebound. I think we all took that in very (well), and started to hit the boards.”

Drew Bonifant – 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: