By VINCE PELUSO — firstname.lastname@example.org
MADISON TOWNSHIP —
In many ways, Madison’s start against South on Friday night mirrored the way the Blue Streaks season has started — fast.
Madison got out on a 7-0 run that proved pivotal as they never trailed the Rebels and hung on for a Premier Athletic Conference win, 52-57.
“We’ll take that one, anytime you get a PAC win, you take those,” Blue Streaks coach Pat Moran said.
After taking the early lead, Madison remained in control throughout, but South picked away at the lead and a Kareem Hunt follow of his own miss tied the game at 45 with 5 minutes to play.
The Blue Streaks answered back as Stephon Ortiz connected on his only 3 of the night with 3:02 remaining to make the score 48-45.
Ortiz sealed the game in the closing seconds with a steal and hitting 3-of-4 free throws, scoring 6 of his 14 points in the final 3:02.
It was a strong finish to an otherwise-quiet night for Ortiz, who had Hunt (11 points, game-high 16 rebounds) hounding him defensively throughout.
“It’s a tough matchup for him (Ortiz),” Moran said. “You’re talking about an All-Ohio football player (Hunt) who is without a doubt the best athlete in our conference, regardless of sport. He’s big, strong... I mean, he can make him uncomfortable.
“He (Ortiz) didn’t have a particularly good shooting night, he was in foul trouble. If you’re not shooting well and you’re in foul trouble and you get 14, there’s a lot of high school players who would love to get 14 points in a game.”
Madison point guard Brett Monty picked up any scoring slack that was left, recording a game-high 21 points.
South coach Roy Infalvi Jr. said it took the Rebels a few too many quarters to figure out how to stop Monty, who scored all 21 of his points in the first three quarters of play.
“We tried a couple different matchups, early on he was getting some looks and shots against our defense, but he also had some open looks because some of our guys helped off of him,” he said. “We kind of changed it up and made sure we didn’t help off of him and we changed up some personnel a little bit and tried to help out that way. It worked, I wish it would’ve worked that way earlier.”
Monty capped that opening 7-0 run with one of his three triples on the night.
Moran said the start of the game was exactly what he was hoping for coming into the game.
“I thought our start was how we wanted,” he said. “In fact, one of our first baskets was our 5 man (John Daulhausen, 7 points) (sprinting) the floor and, of course, we want that.”
Infalvi said it was the defense of the Blue Streaks early on that gave his team problems.
“Madison came out and played great,” he said. “Defensively, they were aggressive, intense and up in our face a little bit and they did a good job getting out early. We fought back a little bit, but some of those shots didn’t fall at the end and some of that’s due to their defense.”
Neither team lit it up from the floor as the Rebels shot 19 of 69 (27.5 percent) from the field while Madison 17 of 62 (27.4 percent).
Regardless of statistics, Moran is happy to have kicked off conference play with a victory.
“It’s huge, especially against such a quality program,” he said. “That’s a team that went over to NDCL, they had a lead on them late in the game. They beat Mayfield, a team we lost to. We knew it was going to be a drag ’em out kinda game. We always battled with them and it’s a great rivalry and it’s just fun basketball.”