MADISON—A 23-7 third-quarter run helped Madison earn its biggest win of the season by beating visiting Chardon, 67-51.
The Blue Streaks, who improved to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the Western Reserve Conference, struggled early this season to find their footing against a challenging schedule that included regional tournament participants Perry and North and a district finalist in West Geauga.
“I told the girls, Perry, West G, North, that is a brutal start,” said Madison coach Tedd Wagner. “In the second half against Perry, it was a two-point game; the first half against West G, we were beating them, and in the middle two quarters against North, it was a two-point game, but unfortunately, it’s a four-quarter game. I told the team this needed to be a 32-minute track meet and I think we turned it into that.”
Madison’s defense set the tone early as the Blue Streaks pressured the Hilltoppers and forced turnovers and other uncharacteristic errors that led to transition baskets.
The Blue Streaks led 15-9 after the first quarter and 30-24 at halftime.
Riley Montagner, who tied teammate Alyssa Lavdis with a game-high 22 points, scored 14 of Madison’s 30 first-half points. Lavdis took the baton in the second half and scored 15 of her points in the final 16 minutes of play.
As they did in the first half, the Blue Streaks attacked the basketball on the defensive end to create scoring opportunities on the other side.
“We have spent a ton of time on conditioning,” Wagner said. “Coach (Heather) Reho has spent a ton of time in the weight room. That is the style we’ve been trying to play, fast and aggressive. We’ll give up buckets but if we give up a bucket we’re going to fly down the court ad get one right back. We’ve been stressing that all year. We kind of had trouble getting going against some of those teams we played but we had a lot of energy and excitement. Our press wasn’t perfect, I’ll look at the film and see mistakes, but we were busting our butt all over the place and that’s the tempo we want to play at.”
Payton Lewanski contributed to the win with nine points and Elizabeth Bottar finished with seven.
Chardon had controlled the tempo in most of its games this season but on Saturday, the Hilltoppers struggled to break the Madison press and even when they did, they weren’t hitting shots at their normal rate.
They also ran into early foul trouble, which presented other challenges.
Chardon closed out the game with 23 fouls to Madison’s 18.
“The officials called it both ways, it’s not like we had 30 fouls and they had six,” said Chardon coach Cullen Harris. “We were in the double bonus too. Madison figured it out and showed their hands and contested up high and we kept diving with our hands. You’ve got to learn as basketball players and hopefully we’ll take this opportunity to learn and grow from it so it’s not a wasted experience.”
Sam Liechty led Chardon with 14 points while Jo Janda finished with nine and Kayla Noerr finished with six.
Chardon typically has three or four players in double figures and several others with strong stat lines.
“I think sometimes when we get in that fast pace our shots aren’t falling because of the tendency to rush even more,” Harris said. “In reality, when you’re not getting those shots to go in a fast-paced game, the best thing to do is take a deep breath and execute and run some offense. We tried to keep putting the pedal to the metal and didn’t get things to fall and didn’t get it done on the defensive end. That’s basketball.”
Madison travels to Lakeside on Monday while Chardon hosts North on Wednesday.