MONMOUTH — When Al Veneziano began coaching in 1987, he thought he might coach for a year and be done with it. That wasn’t the case.

Four different Bulldogs hit double figures to lead Madison to a 59-40 win over rival Monmouth in a Mountain Valley Conference girls basketball game Tuesday night.

The victory was the seventh of the season for the Bulldogs (7-4). More notably, it was the 400th coaching win for Veneziano.

“We’re very proud as a team to be able to bring him to his 400th win, that’s for sure,” said Hailey Paquet, who finished with 12 points.

Veneziano was emotional in talking about the milestone.

“I’m very fortunate,” he said. “I’ve been very blessed to have some very good players and a very good support group. When you have good coaches, good players and parents who have been supportive, it makes it a lot easier.”


The victory was drawn up just the way the coach wanted, too.

Madison pressured Monmouth (3-4) up and down the court with a 10-player rotation that warded off foul trouble and forced the Mustangs into turnovers. A close game at halftime turned into a breeze in the third quarter, when the Bulldogs turned to old-fashioned pick and roll plays off the perimeter to open up space inside for Paquet and Grace Linkletter.

It was a different look than Madison showed when limited by injuries and illness in a lopsided loss to Class C South leader Hall-Dale last week at home.

“That’s the level we’d like to get to. Tonight I thought we were effective with it,” Veneziano said. “We’ve had quite a few young kids step up and play in the guard position, so we feel very confident there at this point. Ali (Griffeth), Raegan Cowan and Mackenzie (Robbins) — they’re a good guard combination. All three can handle the ball and they do a good job of it.”

“We like to get in people’s heads. That’s what our goal is,” said Cowan, who finished with 10 points. “High speed is definitely our team’s thing.”

Monmouth’s Abigail Atwood, center, dives on the ball with Madison’s Ghillian Bonito, left, and Ananbel Linkletter during a girls basketball game Tuesday in Monmouth. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Monmouth’s Holly Hunt was a force inside with a double-double, including a game-high 17 points and 10 rebounds.


Hunt simply didn’t have enough to carry the Mustangs the distance, as Paquet and Linkletter (10 points) started finding space in the high post.

The duo collected 13 of their 22 combined points in the third and fourth quarters.

“We definitely found a flow when we got into the corner and started hitting those pick and rolls a lot,” Paquet said. “It made (the game) so much easier.”

Madison took a 31-24 game at the break and opened it up with a 14-1 run that lasted more than a full period’s worth of game clock.

It started with Robbins — who netted a team-high 13 points — making a free throw with 3:32 left in the third and the onslaught didn’t cease until Paquet connected for her final bucket of the night 8:02 later.

That led the Bulldogs starters to the bench for the remainder of the evening.

“We did a good job of (using the post players) in the first half, too, but we just were’t putting it in the basket,” Veneziano said. “In the second half we started getting it in there a little bit more and getting it to the basket. I felt like if we just kept running the offense through, we were going to get good shots.”

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