By STEVE GOLDMAN
MADISON TOWNSHIP —
After some of the Madison girls’ non-starters stood up to the challenge in the second quarter, the Blue Streaks were able to put some space between them and visiting West Geauga. The result was a 61-41 non-conference win Thursday night.
“I told my starters that they’d better thank the bench people, because in the second quarter the bench people held it together while I had four starters sitting next to me with two fouls each,” Madison coach Mike Smith said. “And then in the third quarter, the starters came back and did their job. And so I’m really proud of all of ‘em, really, today.”
Point guard Abbie Trivisonno was the first to sit with two fouls when she did so at the 1:56 mark of the first quarter and the Blue Streaks (9-1, 5-1) holding a 12-6 lead. Taylor Bland (14 points, 5 steals), Melanie Primer (7 rebounds) and Dana Appelfeller all picked up their second foul in the second period.
When Trivisonno sat down, the Wolverines (4-5, 1-2) were three points into a 12-2 spurt which turned a 12-3 deficit into a 15-14 lead, and they held a one-point advantage two more times in the half. But with the help of the other starter, Julie Gavorski (8 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) and bench players Tayler Gustin (15 points, 2 blocks), Danielle Johnson. Julie Bruening and Abbie Thompson, Madison hung tough and eventually ran off the final seven points prior to the break for a 32-26 lead.
Gavorski found Johnson for a 3-pointer, Gustin fed Gavorski for a bucket and Thompson passed to Gustin for a layup to account for those seven points.
“All we talked about at halftime was defense,” Smith said. “We try to hold teams under 10 points (in a quarter), and at halftime they had 26. When we hold them to 10 a quarter, we figure we’re going to win games. They had 26, and I told ‘em they’re on their way to 50, and they know what that means: I’m not going to be a happy camper.”
The girls must have been paying attention, because they held West G to five points in the third quarter while scoring 15 themselves. The Wolverines made just 2-of-16 shots in the period.
Over the final five minutes of the quarter plus about the first minute and a half of the fourth, the Blue Streaks went on a 14-1 run that stretched a 36-30 margin to 50-31. Eventually a 10-0 blitz made it 61-35 before West Geauga ran off the final six points of the game.
“Not (to use this) as an excuse, but we practiced a half hour in the last four days,” West Geauga coach Cheryl Rye said. “And it definitely showed. We made mental mistake after mental mistake. Madison played a good game, but we did not give them our best effort.”
Madison shot at a nice 45.1-percent clip (23 of 51) as compared to 26.3 percent (15 of 57) for the Wolverines.
“Our defense in the third quarter was the way we’re supposed to play defense,” Smith said. “I thought we fought with tenacity and the intensity that we need, and that gets us into it offensively. So I’m real proud of the way they came out after halftime. It’s tough over the holidays to stay focused. They’re on a different schedule — that routine of school and practice.”
Nicole Leonette and Marley Praprost paced West G with eight points each. Brianne Goodrich led it in rebounds with seven, but Madison held the upper hand in that department by 10 (43-33).
Goodrich and Leonette each struggled with fouls, with Goodrich fouling out with more than four minutes remaining. Rye mentioned foul trouble as one of the contributing factors to the defeat.
“I thought we started quick, but then we got content,” Smith said. “And I know that Cheryl-coached teams are going to keep playing and playing and playing.”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.