END OF ROAD: Madison seniors (above, from left) Delanie Jones, Whitney Wynn, Ireland Falconberry, Macky Hecox and Alex Thurnall watch the closing seconds of the Cubs’ 54-45 loss to Mater Dei in the regional championship Saturday at Jasper. The group graduates with 67 wins, the most by a class in school history. Madison junior Olivia Crozier (below) guards Mater Dei center Tori Schickel. Schickel scored 20 points and Indiana-bound Maura Muensterman scored 25 for the bulk of the Wildcats’ points. Crozier had 34 points and 20 rebounds in the two regional games. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
END OF ROAD: Madison seniors (above, from left) Delanie Jones, Whitney Wynn, Ireland Falconberry, Macky Hecox and Alex Thurnall watch the closing seconds of the Cubs’ 54-45 loss to Mater Dei in the regional championship Saturday at Jasper. The group graduates with 67 wins, the most by a class in school history. Madison junior Olivia Crozier (below) guards Mater Dei center Tori Schickel. Schickel scored 20 points and Indiana-bound Maura Muensterman scored 25 for the bulk of the Wildcats’ points. Crozier had 34 points and 20 rebounds in the two regional games. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
JASPER - For a few fleeting moments, Madison had everything going its way. The Lady Cubs held a seven-point lead, they had the momentum and a regional title close enough to taste.

But in a blink of an eye, it was all gone. Mater Dei, the odds-on tourney favorite, flexed its muscles and took control with a 23-0 run and the second-ranked Wildcats pulled away for the 54-45 win in the Class 3A Regional Championship game Saturday night in Jasper.

It was a disappointing result to be sure for Madison and while there were tears, nearly every Lady Cub walked off the floor believing they did everything they could against the powerhouse from Evansville.

"Once you get in the tourney, whether you're up 20 or you're up one, you cannot slow down. You have to stay at the same intensity that got you the lead," said junior Olivia Crozier, who had a huge two-game tournament. "If they change, you have to change with them and if you don't do that, that's what happens."

Seventh-ranked Madison (17-3) pulled away for an easy 66-51 win over Southridge in the morning semifinal and seemed to be ready for the matchup with Mater Dei at night.

Employing a box-and-one on Mater Dei superstar Maura Muensterman, the Cubs' active defense kept Madison in the game even while the offense was busy shooting itself in the foot.

Madison turned the ball over on seven of its first eight possessions but led 12-11 after the first quarter and was tied 24-24 at the half. The reason was defense, particularly that of seniors Macky Hecox and Ireland Falconberry who took turns shadowing Muensterman everywhere she went.

That defensive intensity allowed the Cubs to get the break they needed in the third quarter. Whitney Wynn picked off a Mater Dei pass and was fouled on her drive to the basket. But the senior sank both free throws to put Madison up 26-24.

A possession later Wynn ripped down a rebound and sprinted down the floor for an easy lay-up. Delanie Jones then picked off a steal and found Alex Thurnall in transition for a 3-pointer on the left side.

The quick 7-0 run staked the Cubs to a 31-24 lead with 4:51 left in the third quarter and Mater Dei quickly called timeout to make adjustments.

The one adjustment Mater Dei made was going to a full-court press. The Wildcats speeded up the tempo and took Madison out of its half-court game plan of pounding the ball inside to Crozier.

Despite the defensive switch Madison still had a chance to extend its lead. The Wildcats turned the ball over on the first possession out of the timeout but Jones missed an open 3-pointer that would have pushed the lead to 10. Crozier blocked a shot on Mater Dei's next possession but the Cubs turned the ball right back over.

Mater Dei (25-1) finally broke the Madison run when 6-foot-2 Tori Schickel stuck in a putback of a Muensterman miss to cut the lead to five but Crozier answered with a basket of her own to push the lead back to seven with 2:55 left in the third.

However, the rest of the quarter - and essentially the game - belonged to Mater Dei. Schickel scored on a lay-up to cut the lead to five and, after a Madison turnover, Muensterman hit two free throws to pull the Wildcats to within three. Another Cub turnover led to a Mater Dei run-out that Muensterman finished with a lay-up to give the Wildcats a 34-33 lead at the end of the third quarter.

"We had them on the ropes but we just couldn't get that other basket to put us over the hump," Madison coach Willie Humes said. "I thought we had them."

The quarter break didn't give Madison much of a respite. Another Madison turnover led to another Muensterman lay-up and the Wildcats pulled away from there. By the time the 23-0 run was done with 2:57 left in the game, Mater Dei had turned a seven-point deficit into a 16-point lead.

The Wildcats went into a delay after that but Madison had a brief charge left. Wynn powered her way to the basket and connected on a four-point play to cut the margin to 10 with 1:39 left. But the Cubs missed three more shots over the next 30 seconds that would have cut the deficit to under 10 before Crozier hit a pair of free throws to pull Madison to within nine with 1:03 left.

Muensterman hit two free throws with 53 seconds left and added a lay-up with 38 seconds to push the margin back to 13. Wynn hit a basket with 22 seconds left and Raven Lee scored as time expired for the final margin.

Crozier finished with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting and 10 rebounds to lead Madison while Wynn had 16 points and four rebounds.

Nearly all of Mater Dei's scoring came from Muensterman and Schickel. Muensterman, a 6-foot senior who is headed to Indiana University, scored 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting while Schickel had 20 points and six rebounds.

"I thought we did a good job on Muensterman. The problem was if I switched out to go get her, that didn't leave any size on Schickel inside," Crozier said. "They're both really good and they've probably been playing together since they were little. They screen off of each other really well."

Mater Dei, which won the last two state championships in Class 2A before getting moved up thanks to the IHSAA's new success factor rule, advances to the semistate where it will face Indianapolis Bishop Chatard on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Madison faces its first true offseason of change in nearly four years after seniors Falconberry, Hecox, Jones, Kaitlin Rice, Thurnall and Wynn graduate. The six have been a large part of the Cubs' success the past four years and leave with a school-record 67 wins, three sectional championships, a regional title and a regional runner-up on their resumes.

"That's a special class that is going through, not only in basketball but in all the other sports." Crozier said. "They've been playing together since they were little and when they get on the floor, they have a sync that we all just fit in well with. We're definitely going to miss them."

Humes is already making plans for next season. He will have Crozier, an All-Star candidate who is headed to Southeast Missouri State, to build around and a cast of talented but unproven players. But the coach admits that he would have loved to have had his seniors for two more games.

"I hate it for the seniors. I really wanted to win this game for them," Humes said. "They have meant so much to the program and have worked so hard. They're a special group."

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GIRLS CLASS 3A REGIONAL

Championship

at Jasper

No. 2 MATER DEI 54, No. 7 MADISON 45



MADISON 12 12 9 12 - 45

MATER DEI 11 13 10 20 - 54



MADISON (17-3) - (c)Crozier 17, (f)Wynn 16, (g)Thurnall 6, (f)Hecox 4, Lee 2, (g)Jones 0, Rice 0, Hartman 0, Falconberry 0, Liter 0, Sproles 0.

MATER DEI (25-1) - (g)Muensterman 25, (c)Schickel 20, Daunhauer 7, (g)Ali Spahn 2, (g)Bueltel 0, (f)Ubelhor 0, As. Spahn 0, Kelley 0.



3-Point Goals - Madison 3 (Thurnall 2, Wynn 1), Mater Dei 1 (Muensterman 1). Rebounds - Madison 25 (Crozier 10), Mater Dei 21 (Schickel 6). Assists - Madison 7 (Thurnall 3), Mater Dei 10 (Daunhauer 3). Turnovers - Madison 21, Mater Dei 14. Total Fouls - Madison 15, Mater Dei 10. Free Throws - Madison 8-9, Mater Dei 9-11. Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Madison's season ends. Mater Dei faces Chatard in the semistate at Bedford Saturday.