By VINCE PELUSO — email@example.com
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
Madison coach Pat Moran described his team as a pack of wounded dogs coming into a game at Edgewood, the home opener for the Warriors.
Whatever the Blue Streaks were, they were fast and effective.
Playing at a break-neck pace that Edgewood couldn’t quite match for the first eight minutes of play, Madison raced out to 27-8 lead and never looked back, winning their first game of the season, 82-63.
With the game tied at 4, the Blue Streaks (1-1) closed the quarter out on a 23-4 run led by Stephan Ortiz (31 points) and Brett Monty (25 points) who each scored 7 in the opening frame.
“We came back from our game against Mayfield, where we had a tough loss and we told them before the game, ‘a wounded animal is most dangerous,’” Moran said. “We were ready for this one, we wanted to get out and get the first one (win) out of the way and get ready for South on Friday.”
Edgewood didn’t lie down after the opening run. The Warriors actually tied Madison 55-55 over the final three quarters, but the first quarter deficit was too much.
Second-year Edgewood coach John Bowler said he expected his team to come out of the gates a little sluggish in its opening game of the season, but not quite down 19 points.
“I expected to come out slow, I didn’t expect to come out 27-8 slow,” he said. “I’ll tell you what, they have some real good athletes. They push the ball up and down the court.
“We’ve got to get in a little better shape.”
Bowler attributed some of that sluggish start to the Warriors playoff run in football as six of his eight rotation players played football.
Still, despite trailing by 18 at the half (48-30), Edgewood came out on a 6-0 run capped by an Andrew Konczal trey to cut the deficit to 12.
But a Moran timeout quickly reset the Blue Streaks as Monty responded with a 3 of his own and Madison quickly responded with a 9-2 run to push the lead up to 19.
“I actually told the assistants if they go 6-0 we’re going to burn a timeout,” Moran said. “It’s a cliché, but we talk about the first three minutes of a quarter, that’s when we thought we should’ve put a nail in the coffin.
“They (Edgewood) fought, they scrapped. I think by the end of the year they’re going to be pretty good. We caught them at the beginning of the year which was fortunate for us, I think they have some nice players.”
Edgewood had no answer for the duo of Ortiz and Monty who were seemingly all over the court, combining for 56 of the Blue Streaks 82 points, including nine makes from beyond the arc.
“We were guarding them,” Bowler said. “They’re just very good shooters. The Ortiz kid is a very good shooter, he’s got such a quick release it’s hard to guard.”
Moran said the unselfish play of his main two players, in addition to the rest of his team, was the reason why the Blue Streaks were so successful Tuesday.
“They face guarded them (Ortiz and Monty) so we got them in some situations where they had to pick their poison,” he said. “It was more of a reversal, we went with Steph quite a bit in the first half (20 first-half points) then Monty (9 second-half points) more in the second half. That’s what happens when you have unselfish players, they come in and they wanna see their teammates succeed, it’s something that I think we were lacking last year.
“I think it’s the maturity of the kids that really shows. They’re really for one and another, I’m sure most of them don’t know who scored what. They’re like that.”
For Bowler, who’s team was led in scoring by Konczal with 14 points, the game gave him a gauge on where his squad is one game into the season.
“This game is a game that gives me a feel of where we’re at,” he said. “I’d rather play right off the bat, a real good team like Madison, then I can say, ‘OK, I know where we gotta be, where we gotta get to.’ Hopefully, we’ll be there.
“Our schedule is set up to play better teams like we play in the tournament so hopefully, we’re ready for the tournament.”