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    Madison gets defensive

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    Madison heads into the 2021-2022 season with a defensive-minded approach to winning basketball games.

    The Blue Streaks return four starters and four others with varsity experience from last year’s team that finished 5-9 overall and 1-5 in the Western Reserve Conference.

    “We have the chance to be a very good team if we defend like we are capable of defending,” said third-year head coach Tedd Wagner. “We need to make defense lead to offense. We have a veteran team with lots of experience. They are very accustomed to our system, so there is less teaching and more refining and more playing. We are capable of getting hot and scoring in bunches. We are small but quick so we will use that to our advantage. We are also a very intelligent team. Four of our rotational players have been in calculus and the entire team is honor students.”

    Madison will play to its strengths while trying to minimize the height disadvantage the Blue Streaks will face in many games this season.

    “We will have to compensate with quickness and pressure and great team play,” Wagner said.

    Senior Riley Montagner returns to the starting lineup after averaging 17.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game last season. The 5-foot-7 shooting guard earned honorable mention All-Ohio and all-district honors.

    “Riley loves basketball and has worked hard in four years to improve her game and improve her strength and conditioning,” Wagner said.

    Seniors Chloe Bancroft and Elizabeth Bottar also are returning starters.

    Bancroft is a 5-foot-7 shooting guard who averaged five points and three rebounds per game last season while Bottar is a 5-foot-4 point guard. She average 6.5 points, three rebounds, and 2.5 assists per contest as a junior.

    “Chloe is a pure shooter. If she has the ball she has a green light,” Wagner said. “(Bottar) is always ready to play. She is our director and a very capable scorer.”

    Junior Kearsten Woleben and senior Riley Elliott round out the projected starting lineup.

    Woleben, a 5-foot-5 point guard, was a part-time starter last season who averaged five points and three assists per game. Elliott is a 5-foot-7 wing.

    “Kearsten has the ability to take over a game on offense and on defense. She needs to have that mindset every game,” Wagner said. “Riley is the glue on our team. She will do whatever it takes to win.”

    Seniors Payton Lewanski and Riley Wilber and sophomore Claire Wakim will provide the Blue Streaks with quality depth.

    Lewanski is a 5-foot-11 post who averaged five points and five rebounds per game last season. Wilber is a 5-foot-5 wing and Wakim is a 5-foot-10 wing.

    “Payton is a presence in the post. She works hard on her game,” Wagner said. “Riley is a tough competitor off of the bench. Claire can dominate any game in any way.”

    Madison opens the season at Perry on Friday. The Blue Streaks will be tested early and often as they seek to win the WRC title.

    “Our conference is very tough and many teams are capable,” Wagner said. “We want to be playing games that matter at the end of the year.”

    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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