By ROB DiPOFI
For the Star Beacon
It might be only four games into the regular season, but after watching the Madison Blue Streaks on Tuesday night, it would appear the team is rounding into mid-season form after an 86-46 dismantling of the Geneva Eagles.
The Blue Streaks (3-1, 2-0) got comfortable early in this Premier Athletic Conference contest, with senior Stephon Ortiz (35 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) leading the way. Ortiz came out firing from long range and then got inside several times against the Geneva 2-3 zone, netting him 27 points by the halftime buzzer.
Madison coach Pat Moran marveled at the performance.
“We thought going into the season, he was one of the premier scorers in the PAC and seemed to be somewhat under the radar, but now, after going for over thirty two games in a row, he’s not going to sneak up on anyone any longer,” he said.
Madison didn’t sneak up on Geneva (0-4, 0-2) in this game. The visitors dialed up some intense defensive pressure on the host Eagles after about four minutes of play. Up 6-2, the Blue Streaks began their blitz, scoring the next dozen points, to go up by 16.
Geneva’s David Smalley (8 points) nailed a 3-pointer to stop that run, only to see Madison get the last bucket of the quarter to take a 20-5 lead.
The game was essentially over at that point, something that was on the mind of Geneva coach Scott Torok.
“That was a good ole fashion butt kickin’,” he said. “There were no surprises about what they would do and that was not Xs and Os, it simply came down to us not playing with intensity and pride. We didn’t show up ready to play.”
Madison clearly did. The Streaks built on the fifteen point bulge after the first quarter and the lead would swell to 27 by halftime at 41-14.
The lead was fostered by a number of slick passes and unselfish plays by the boys in blue (21 assists), something that Moran, again, was pleased with.
“I am very happy with our team chemistry,” he said. “These guys are a joy to coach. I am really happy with for Ortiz and (senior guard Brett) Monty (17 points).
“These two kids have worked really hard and are now reaping the benefits. They have been stomping the grapes for three years, so to speak, and now it’s time for them to taste the wine.”
After halftime, Madison did not relent and tasted victory in this contest between neighborhood rivals. It again utilized strong half-court trapping to push the lead to as many as 40 in the third quarter.
“We knew there would be a contrast in styles playing Geneva,” Moran said. “We wanted to get things uptempo and really get after them and force them into mistakes.”
The Blue Streaks reached their coach’s goal.
Madison forced a number of turnovers (25 for the game for Geneva) to get into its transition game early and often and pushing the lead out to 70-30 heading into the final quarter of play.
With both teams making a number of substitutions and the game’s outcome already secure, the fourth quarter saw some back-and-forth action, with the lead not shrinking below 30 points at any time.
From start to finish it was something that Moran was looking for as his team continues to build momentum and move forward in PAC play.
“We know North and University School are solid but these boys have big hearts and I think they feel underappreciated,” Moran said. “Their goal is like anyone at the beginning of the season, to win the league and we have a shot at doing that.”
DiPofi is a freelance writer from Geneva.