MADISON—Led by Riley Montagner, who scored a game-high 19 points, Madison had five players reach double figures in a 75-40 win over visiting Austintown Fitch in a Division I sectional semifinal on Saturday.
The Blue Streaks, who improved to 4-7 with their first win since returning from a COVID-related pause on Thursday, jumped out to an 18-6 first-quarter lead and never looked back.
“I challenged the girls today, I’m a track guy, so I said ‘We need to have a PR,’” said Madison coach Tedd Wagner. “We’ve kind of been struggling here and there but let’s have a PR, and in track, that means a personal record.”
Madison scored a season-best 75 points and allowed just 40, their second-least amount of points allowed this winter.
“After the game, (Chloe) Bancroft goes, ‘Coach, I think that was a PR.’ So, I think, for sure, that was the best game we’ve played over 32 minutes,” Wagner said. “We got a little sloppy in the third quarter and that happens when you’re winning, but I think it was, start to finish. We have struggled at times to score this year so that was very nice to see the ball movement and the transition and everything.”
Madison started the season on Jan. 11 and played just nine games before being shut down on Jan. 30.
A lack of gym time has prevented the Blue Streaks from reaching their potential on the offensive end but they compensated for that shortcoming by playing aggressively on defense.
“We made a commitment that we were going to press, whether we were up 30 or down 30, we were going to press the whole game and we’ve been working on that,” Wagner said. “That was kind of our goal. If you’re struggling shooting, you can always get the hustle baskets. You can get a steal, you can get a layup or an offensive rebound. (North standout) Destiny Leo averaged 28 a game but she got at least 12 points every game on putbacks and steals. When you’re struggling to score sometimes that’s a way to get easy baskets. We do focus on that a lot.”
The Blue Streaks forced nearly 30 turnovers in the game, including 10 in the first quarter alone, and that led to those transition scoring opportunities Wagner hoped would follow.
Bancroft contributed to the win with 13 points, Elizabeth Bottar and Alyssa Lavdis both pitched in with 12, and Claire Wakim added 10. Kirsten Woleben nearly reached the double-figure mark as well, as she scored eight points.
Madison will play a tuneup on Monday against Riverside before it travels to Archbishop Hoban on Thursday for a sectional championship game.
“Hoban has a ton of talent,” Wagner said. “From what I’ve read, they had some new girls and had some chemistry issues early in the year but now they’re really on a roll. But you know we have a chance to play and it’s a great opportunity. If you want to be the best, you need to play that level to see what it’s like, so we’re excited. It’s an opportunity to play one of the best teams in the state and take a shot.”