AIR TIME: Madison’s Ryan Thurston splits South Ripley defenders Jacob Mullins (25) and Trey Sparks (20) en route to the basket during Tuesday’s game in Versailles. Thurston scored 16 points as the Cubs won 61-49, their first game at South Ripley since 1978. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
AIR TIME: Madison’s Ryan Thurston splits South Ripley defenders Jacob Mullins (25) and Trey Sparks (20) en route to the basket during Tuesday’s game in Versailles. Thurston scored 16 points as the Cubs won 61-49, their first game at South Ripley since 1978. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
VERSAILLES - Madison scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter to seize control of Tuesday's game and pull away for a 61-49 basketball win at South Ripley.

The Cubs trailed 4-0 early then led the rest of the way but couldn't put Ripley away until late. The quick burst in the fourth - fueled by six Landon Perry points off turnovers - proved to be the difference.

"I'm just so proud of the kids," Madison coach Pat King said. "I didn't feel good about this one. It was senior night, a Tuesday night and in games like these, every once in a while you're a no-show. Before the game the guys were antsy and I didn't know if it was because they didn't care or they were ready to play. As it turned out, they were ready to play."

Madison (10-9) clawed back over the .500 mark and reached double-digits in wins for the first time since 2009, Jim Matthews' last year as coach. The Cubs can win 11 games for the first time since 2007 with a victory at home against Switzerland County on Friday.

South Ripley (14-6) got baskets from Trey Sparks and Austin Halcomb early in what was a very deliberate first quarter by both teams.

Matt Woolard got the Cubs on the board with a short jumper and Madison closed the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 10-6 lead into the second.

The key for Madison defensively was to negate Ripley's big size advantage. Six-foot-seven Cody Federmann, as well as 6-foot-4 juniors Logan Linkmeyer and Halcomb towered over nearly every player the Cubs put on the floor.

Madison combated that size by doubling down in the post and making the Raiders beat them outside. It was a ploy that worked to perfection as Federmann scored only three points and Ripley knocked down only two 3-pointers as a team.

"We knew that their two big guys were a matchup problem for us and we wanted to make them shoot threes," King said. "Neither one of their big guys have a lot of assists so when they get the ball in there, it was usually going to go up. I'm sure they are just used to volleying it up there and getting it back for second and third chances and we weren't going to let them do that."

Ryan Thurston, who closed the first quarter with a 3-pointer, hit another trey in the second and added a third long-distance shot that was just inside the arc to carry the Cubs to an 11-point halftime lead.

Landon Perry also had two 3-pointers in the second quarter and 6-foot-6 Tyler Manaugh came off the bench to score four points.

But South Ripley wasn't ready to go away. The Raiders' Joe Dicken opened the third with a 3-pointer and Ripley clawed back into the game with big shots by Dicken, Trey Sparks and Jacob Mullins. A Sparks three-point play with 1:12 left in the quarter pulled the Raiders to within three at 38-35.

But every time South Ripley made a run, Madison was there to answer. Just moments after Sparks' basket and free throw, Macon put the ball on the floor and drove to the rim for an easy two.

Halcomb closed the quarter with a basket to keep the Raiders within three but the fourth quarter belonged to Madison. Perry got the big run started with a pair of free throws and Carson Wattenbarger followed a foul shot of his own to push the lead to six.

The Cubs then put the squeeze on Ripley's passing lanes, leading to several steals and run-outs over the next few minutes. Perry finished one and got two free throws on another. Wattenbarger's open drive to the basket capped the 11-0 run to give Madison its largest lead of the night, 51-37.

Wattenbarger was hit with a curious technical foul on the lay-up - officials told King the junior let out a yell after he hit the shot - and Ripley took advantage of the momentum swing to score seven-quick points and pull within seven (51-44) with 3:27 to play.

But the Cubs kept their cool and Wattenbarger never let up, drilling a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to push the lead back to 10 and essentially put the game out of reach.

"Every time Ripley made a run we answered and that shows the maturity that this team is getting," King said. "They understand situations and they're not letting things bother them as much."

Perry, playing just his third game back from a knee injury, scored 17 points to lead Madison while Thurston added 16 and Wattenbarger had 13. The Cubs made only seven turnovers as a team on the night.

"I didn't take it easy on Landon tonight. I played him like he hadn't been injured and he really responded," King said. "He is still adjusting. There are some things that he can't do. But he's a smart kid and he's figuring them out."

Macon scored only seven points but was arguably Madison's best player on the floor. The sophomore point guard had five assists and three steals to go with at least 10 deflections in the game while playing a role in nearly every single scoring play.

"Nick had a great floor game and no turnovers and that's a heck of a compliment for a sophomore," King said. "He just keeps getting better and better."

Sparks led all scorers with 19 points and Halcomb scored 13. The Raiders stayed in the game by making an impressive 17-of-20 at the free throw line and turning the ball over only 12 times.

Madison closes out the regular season Friday against Switzerland County, a team very similar in make-up to South Ripley. King knows his team will have its hands full.

"They're at least equal (to South Ripley)," King said. "It would be nice if we can get a large crowd for our last home game. The kids are playing great. We've got to 10 wins and this is the first time any of these guys have had that many. That's a compliment to them."

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TUESDAY'S BOYS GAME

at Versailles

MADISON 61, SOUTH RIPLEY 49



MADISON 10 19 11 21 - 61

SOUTH RIPLEY 6 12 19 12 - 49



MADISON (10-9) - (g)Perry 17, (f)Thurston 16, (f)Wattenbarger 13, (g)Macon 7, Manaugh 4, (c)Woolard 2, Vaughn 2, King 0, Sauley 0.



SOUTH RIPLEY (14-6) - (g)Sparks 19, (f)Halcomb 13, (f)Mullins 8, (g)Dicken 6, (c)Federmann 3, Grider 0, Linkmeyer 0, Gabbard 0.



3-Point Goals - Madison 7 (Perry 3, Thurston 2, Wattenbarger 2), South Ripley 2 (Dicken 11, Mullins 1). Turnovers - Madison 7, South Ripley 12. Total Fouls - Madison 20, South Ripley 16. Free Throws - Madison 14-19 (74%), South Ripley 17-20 (85%). Fouled Out - None. Technical Fouls - Madison: Wattenbarger. Next Game - Madison hosts Switzerland Co. Friday. South Ripley visits Jac-Cen-Del Friday.