FLOOR GAMES: Madison’s Raven Lee (above, right) hits the floor while trying to take a charge against New Albany’s Brittany Knight during Thursday’s game. Lee did not score but her tight defense on Knight in the second half helped lead the Cubs to victory. Madison senior Macky Hecox (below) goes to the basket over the Bulldogs’ Aaliyah Bell. Hecox scored a game-high 11 points in the 39-33 win. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
FLOOR GAMES: Madison’s Raven Lee (above, right) hits the floor while trying to take a charge against New Albany’s Brittany Knight during Thursday’s game. Lee did not score but her tight defense on Knight in the second half helped lead the Cubs to victory. Madison senior Macky Hecox (below) goes to the basket over the Bulldogs’ Aaliyah Bell. Hecox scored a game-high 11 points in the 39-33 win. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
NEW ALBANY - Madison shook off the rust from nearly a three-week layoff to gut out a 39-33 win at New Albany on Thursday.

The Lady Cubs, ranked eighth in Class 3A, struggled all night against New Albany's zone defense and trailed by as many as seven late in the second quarter.

But like the Cubs' win at Floyd Central early last month, Madison battled back. Delany Liter's 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter gave the Lady Cubs the lead for good and Madison held New Albany to just two points over the final quarter to pull out the win.

"It was an ugly first half. Real ugly," Madison coach Willie Humes said. "I knew with this long layoff that it was going to be a struggle at times. I'm just happy we got a win, especially in this conference on the road."

Madison (8-1, 4-1 Hoosier Hills) hadn't played since suffering its first loss of the season on Dec. 21 at Class 4A No. 1 Bedford North Lawrence. Starting center Olivia Crozier had been off even longer than that after spraining her ankle two days earlier against Jennings County.

Both Crozier and the team were back on the court on Thursday and the Cubs blitzed out to a 10-0 lead in the game's first four and a half minutes to give every indication that the game might be a blowout.

But the blowout never happened. Packing into a 2-3 zone, New Albany (3-9, 0-3 HHC) effectively took Crozier out of the game offensively and attacked the Cubs defensively in the second quarter, outscoring Madison 16-4 in the frame to take a 23-18 halftime lead.

Madison midway deficit would have been even more had Macky Hecox not banked in a basket at the buzzer on an off-balance shot from the free-throw line.

For Humes, Madison's biggest problem came on the defensive end. New Albany just got too many easy shots in the second quarter, something he wanted to change in the second half.

"(New Albany) really hustled. I thought in the first half they really out-hustled us," Humes said. "I think in the second half we got back at it and were able to get the lead."

Madison chipped three points off the lead in the third quarter and then dominated the fourth. Needing some outside shooting to counteract the Bulldog zone, Humes turned to sophomores Liter and Katie Hartman in the fourth and the pair responded just as intended.

Liter's 3-pointer 45 seconds into the quarter gave Madison a 32-31 lead. Neither team scored for the next three minutes before Hartman drilled a three with 4:45 left to put the Cubs ahead 35-31.

"I know they can play and I know they can shoot and I have the confidence that when I put them in they will hit it," Humes said. "I have no worries there."

Brittany Knight came right back with a bucket for New Albany to close the gap to two, but that proved to be the Bulldogs' only points of the quarter. Hecox muscled her way to a basket with 1:50 left and Crozier scored on a fast-break with 39 seconds left to ice the win.

New Albany attempted just two free throws in the game and missed both. The Bulldogs were unable to get off a good shot against Madison's defense in the second half.

Much of the credit for the Cubs' clamp-down on defense was credited to junior Raven Lee. Before fouling out late in the game, Lee pestered the Bulldogs' Knight from one end of the floor to the other with a smothering one-on-one defense that took New Albany out of its offense.

"I put Raven in and told her that (Knight) was all her job was. Just stay with her. Don't switch, don't do anything," Humes said. "She did a really good job. She came in and gave us a defensive surge."

Hecox led all scorers with 11 points and was the only player in double figures on either side of the low-scoring game. Alex Thurnall and Whitney Wynn scored seven points each for the Cubs and Knight led New Albany with nine.

Crozier finished with four points and attempted just five shots while battling the New Albany zone. The 6-foot-2 junior did have 12 rebounds, three steals and two assists and erased any doubts about whether her ankle is sufficiently healed.

"I think she's going to be all right. I took her out a couple of times to rest her and to make sure," said Humes, who waited until just before game-time to decide whether Crozier would start. "She said she felt good so I think she's going to be all right."

Madison has a short turnaround before playing again Saturday when the Cubs host Austin - 60-31 winners over Southwestern on Thursday. The Eagles handed Madison one of only four regular-season losses a year ago and Humes knows his team will be ready.

"We're looking forward to it. I haven't let the girls forget about last year's game," Humes said with a smile. "They promised me that they would shoot better this time."

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THURSDAY's GIRLS GAME

at New Albany

CLADSS 3A No. 8 MADISON 39,

NEW ALBANY 33



MADISON 14 4 11 10 - 39

NEW ALBANY 7 16 8 2 - 33



MADISON (8-1, 4-1 HHC) - (f)Hecox 11, (g)Thurnall 7, (f)Wynn 7, (g)Jones 4, (c)Crozier 4, Hartman 3, Liter 3, Lee 0, Falconberry 0.

NEW ALBANY (3-9, 0-3 HHC) - B. Knight 9, (f)Nixon 6, (g)Jones 5, Shine 5, (f)Camm 4, (g)J. Knight 2, Lyninger 2, (f)Bell 0, Hirsch 0.



3-Point Goals - Madison 5 (Wynn 2, Thurnall 1, Hartman 1, Liter 1), New Albany 3 (Shine 1, Jones 1, B. Knight 1). Rebounds - Madison 24 (Crozier 12), New Albany 33 (Nixon 7, Bell 7). Assists - Madison 13 (Wynn 3, Hecox 3), New Albany 12 (Camm 5). Turnovers - Madison 14, New Albany 19. Total Fouls - Madison 10, New Albany 9. Free Throws - Madison 4-6, New Albany 0-2. Fouled Out - Madison: Lee. Next Game - Madison hosts Austin Saturday. New Albany visits Floyd Central Saturday.