Madison’s Hannah Cain gets emotional (below) after fouling out late in Saturday’s sectional championship loss at Rushville. Cain scored 18 points in her final high school game and nearly brought the Cubs back in the fourth quarter. The Cubs’ Macky Hecox (above, on floor) and Rushville’s Mikayla Dougherty (22) scramble for a loose ball. Rushville held off a Madison comeback to win the very physical game, 63-56. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Madison’s Hannah Cain gets emotional (below) after fouling out late in Saturday’s sectional championship loss at Rushville. Cain scored 18 points in her final high school game and nearly brought the Cubs back in the fourth quarter. The Cubs’ Macky Hecox (above, on floor) and Rushville’s Mikayla Dougherty (22) scramble for a loose ball. Rushville held off a Madison comeback to win the very physical game, 63-56. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
RUSHVILLE - Madison had overcome nearly every conceivable obstacle during its stellar 2013 season. But the Lady Cubs were unprepared for what they faced Saturday in the sectional championship.

Rushville's physical-style of play coupled with a loud home-court advantage was too much for Madison to overcome as the Lady Cubs fell 63-56 to end their two-year run as sectional champions.

Leading scorer Olivia Crozier was held without a point and the Lady Lions had a 20-rebound edge on the glass while building a 14-point fourth-quarter lead.

Madison rallied to cut the lead to three with less than two minutes to play but couldn't get the crucial basket when it needed to. The Lions hit 5-of-8 from the free-throw line down the stretch to win their state-record 28th sectional crown.

"I think we got intimidated," Madison coach Willie Humes said. "It was loud, they were physical and pushed us around and I think we got intimidated."

Intimidation appeared to be Rushville's plan from the beginning. The large pro-Lion crowd filled the 2,600-seat gymnasium to capacity and Rushville upped the ante by having the student section on one end of the floor and the band on the other.

On the floor, the seventh-ranked Lions went to work with their bruising style of play that paid dividends almost immediately. Crozier, who entered the game averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds per game, was repeatedly bounced around and took an elbow to the face just two minutes into the contest.

Crozier picked up her second foul with 3:42 left in the first quarter and then battled foul trouble all game. When the sophomore was on the floor she was effective, but she still went only 0-of-2 from the floor and had just four rebounds.

"Liv took that shot early and I think it really got to her," Humes said. "They were very physical with us and I don't think we were prepared for that. I think it got to Liv."

With Crozier off the floor, Rushville's strong front line went to work controlling the board. The Lions had 23 offensive rebounds in the game and on one memorable sequence in the fourth quarter got six second chances on one play before a scramble on the floor resulted in a time-out.

Despite having its leading scorer saddled with fouls, Madison stayed in the game thanks to the efforts of seniors Hannah Cain and Cadie Povaleri and junior Whitney Wynn.

The trio used their athleticism to score the only way the Cubs could, with slicing drives to the basket that either produced field goals or led to free throws. Cain in particular was effective, going to the line 16 times while hitting 11.

Madison (18-5) led only once, on a Povaleri 3-pointer just over a minute into the game, but Rushville answered that with nine-straight points. The Lions led 15-8 after a quarter and 32-23 at halftime.

Rushville (20-3) took control in the third quarter. After the Cubs had cut the lead to seven, the Lions scored six-straight points to push the margin to 13 and Rushville still held a double-digit lead at the end of the quarter, 48-36.

The Lions appeared to put the game away in the fourth. Mackenzie Campbell, who struggled to a 4-of-24 shooting performance on the night, finally found her shot and hit a 3-pointer early in the frame to push the lead to 51-38.

Baskets by Keragan Niehoff and Sarah Cook, sandwiched around a Macky Hecox jumper for Madison, gave the Lions their biggest lead of the night at 55-41 with 5:35 to play.

Cain jump-started Madison's late rally by driving to the basket and drawing fouls on back-to-back possessions and hitting three free throws to pull the Cubs to within 11. Cook answered with a free throw on the other end to push the lead back to 12.

But Cain was just getting started. She drilled a 3-pointer on Madison's next possession and, after a roubound by Crozier, Cain again went to the basket, drew a foul and hit both free throws to make it a seven-point game at 56-49.

Campbell answered with a basket in transition to get Rushville back on the board but once again Cain drew a foul and hit a free throw to close the margin to eight.

A quick Lion shot resulted in a Madison rebound and Povaleri knocked down a 3-pointer to make it a five-point game. The Cubs then forced a turnover on a five-second call and Cain converted that into a basket to cut the lead to three (58-55) with 1:47 left in the game.

Madison had all of the momentum and the Cub fanbase was in a frenzy but it didn't last long. Cain was whistled for her fifth foul just seconds later sending her to the bench. She finished with a game-high 18 points - 11 in the fourth quarter while leading the Madison comeback.

Niehoff hit a free throw for Rushville to push the lead back to four - ending the Madison run and taking with it the Cubs' momentum. The Cubs turned the ball over on their end, then lost a golden opportunity when they were awarded a jump-ball only to have another official overrule the play and give a time-out to Rushville.

Seconds later, Povaleri was hit with her fifth foul to send a second Madison starter to the bench.

"It was a rough game and it was Rushville's style. It didn't seem to be called the same way on both ends," Humes said. "We lost two players - two important players - to fouls and they didn't lose any."

The Cubs still had a chance. Cook hit one free throw to push the lead back to five but Wynn was fouled on a 3-point attempt on the other end with just 41 seconds left. Wynn made only one of the three free throws to cut the lead to four.

Madison never scored again. The Cubs missed three shots in the final 30 seconds while the Lions hit three free throws to pull away.

"We made a nice comeback and I think if we could have gotten it down to two it would have been a different game," Humes said. "But the girls played their hearts out. I hate it for them."

The Cubs shot a much-higher percentage from the floor than Rushville, 45 percent to the Lions' 36 percent. But Rushville took 14 more shots than Madison thanks to their 46-26 rebounding edge.

"They got a lot of second chances and we just were not able to block out and keep them off the boards," Humes said. "It was the difference."

Wynn finished with 14 points and Povaleri had 13 for the Cubs but only three other players scored. Campbell had 17 for Rushville, Cook scored 15 and Niehoff had 14 points and 15 rebounds.

Rushville's win was just part of a trend statewide on Saturday. Home teams went 27-7 in sectional championships over all four classes and Humes believes there was definitely a home-court advantage for the Lions.

"I think so. I think it played a big part in this game," Humes said. "It was loud, it was hostile and our girls were nervous. They came out tight and I think they were intimidated."

Rushville advances to the regional at Brownstown Central this weekend where the Lions will face Jasper in the opening round. Evansville Bosse will take on Corydon Central in the other game.

Awaiting Madison is an off-season to ponder a season that ended far earlier than the Cubs had planned and preparing for the season to come. The Cubs lose three seniors, Cain, Povaleri and Hannah Bickers, who combined to win 59 games in their four years, the third-most in school history.

But even as Madison says good-bye to one of the best groups it has ever had, Humes knows that the group coming back could be even better. The current juniors - Wynn, Hecox, Alex Thurnall, Delanie Jones and Ireland Falconberry - already have 50 wins and the school-record of 66 is in sight.

"This is a great group of seniors and you really want to see them go out on top. This group has worked its tail off and I hate to see them go," Humes said. "At the same time we have a lot coming back and these girls know what's ahead of them. I just told them what they can accomplish next season if they work hard in the offseason. I think they will and we will back."



at Rushville


No. 7 RUSHVILLE 63, No. 14 MADISON 56

RUSHVILLE 15 17 16 15 - 63

MADISON 8 15 13 20 - 56

RUSHVILLE (20-3) - (g)Campbell 17, (f)Cook 15, (f)K. Niehoff 14, (c)Ash 7, Yager 4, Herbert 3, (g)Dougherty 3, B. Niehoff 0.

MADISON (18-5) - (g)Cain 18, Wynn 14, (f)Povaleri 13, (f)Hecox 6, Thurnall 3, (g)Jones 2, (c)Crozier 0, Hartman 0, Bickers 0, Holland 0.

3-Point Goals - Rushville 2 (Campbell 2), Madison 4 (Povaleri 2, Thurnall 1, Cain 1). Rebounds - Rushville 46 (Niehoff 15), Madison 26 (Cain 6). Assists - Rushville 9 (Cook 3), Madison 13 (Povaleri 3, Jones 3, Cain 3). Turnovers - Rushville 11, Madison 17. Total Fouls - Rushville 20, Madison 22. Free Throws - Rushville 19-29, Madison 16-28. Fouled Out - Madison: Cain, Povaleri. Next Game - Rushville faces Jasper in the Class 3A Regional at Brownstown Saturday. Madison's season ends.