HAVING FUN: Madison’s Matt Woolard (left) and Carson Wattenbarger celebrate late in the Cubs’ 62-52 sectional win over Rushville Friday in Greensburg. Madison used a 15-0 run late to pull away for its first post-season win since 2009. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
HAVING FUN: Madison’s Matt Woolard (left) and Carson Wattenbarger celebrate late in the Cubs’ 62-52 sectional win over Rushville Friday in Greensburg. Madison used a 15-0 run late to pull away for its first post-season win since 2009. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
GREENSBURG - With its back against the wall and its season on the line, Madison responded with one of its best stretches of basketball all season to stave off elimination.

The Cubs had led Rushville by as many as 15 points in the pair's Class 3A sectional semifinal at Greensburg on Friday. But the Lions rallied with a 20-7 run to seize the first lead and the momentum with less than four minutes to play.

But rather than panic the Cubs did what their coach instructed, cranked up the tempo and reeled off a 15-0 run to pull away for a 62-52 win and a shot at the sectional championship.

"He told us to not to give up, pull it together and do everything right," said sophomore Nick Macon. "Play like we had practiced all week."

According to Madison coach Pat King, it was the first time all season that his young team had blown a big lead yet recovered to pick up the win.

"I was thrilled to death with that last three minutes," King said. "Credit the boys. They dug down. We talked in the timeout about how to ignore everything bad that happened. We couldn't fix it. But we could take care of the rest of it. And they did."

Madison's reward for winning its first postseason game since 2009 is a date with No. 2 Greensburg in the championship game tonight. The host Pirates (21-1) beat archrival Batesville 77-65 in the second semifinal on Friday.

Madison (11-10) started off slowly but seized control of the game late in the first quarter with seven-straight points to go ahead 18-8 after one. That run eventually increased to 12-straight points through the start of the second, and the Cubs built their biggest lead of the game (15) at 23-8.

Madison held a 15-point lead on two other occasions in the second quarter but Rushville got a big 3-pointer by Nate Hoeing at the end of the half to cut the lead to 10 (33-23).

Rushville (10-12), which is led by former Switzerland County coach Brian Bowen, used that momentum to get back in game in the third.

Landon Perry swished a 3-pointer for Madison to keep the lead at 10 but the rest of the period belonged to the Lions, who closed the frame on an 11-4 run to cut the margin to three (44-41).

For King, it has been the same old story for the Cubs who have struggled in the third quarter all season long.

"I wish I knew what was going on in the third," King said. "It's killed us all year."

Rushville kept up the attack and got its first lead of the game when Mitch Laird hit a 3-pointer to put the Lions ahead 48-47 with 4:34 to play. After a missed Madison shot, Rushville got two more points by Hunter Orme, capping a 20-7 run to give the Lions their biggest lead of the night.

It was at that point that King called timeout and rallied his troops. Carson Wattenbarger fouled out on Orme's basket and King sent sophomore guard Willie Huffman into the game. He had only two directives for his team.

"I told them that we needed to speed them up. We had had success speeding it up all night," King said. "And I told them to stop taking threes. We were shooting way too many jumpers."

Madison listened to their coach and then some. Macon tied the score with a conventional three-point play then forced a turnover on the inbounds that Perry converted into a basket to give the lead back to the Cubs.

A Macon steal of a Rushville pass led to a Ryan Thurston runout and a quick 7-0 run.

A Rushville timeout did nothing to stop the momentum. Madison eventually scored 15-straight points over the next three-plus minutes, culminating in a pair of Macon free throws that pushed the lead to 12 (62-50) with 9.7 seconds left.

Rushville's John Riddell hit a jumper at the buzzer for the final margin.

Two of the keys to the game for Madison were the Cubs' free-throw shooting and its defense. Madison went 17-for-21 from the line overall, including 12-for-15 in the fourth quarter.

On defense the Cubs forced 21 turnovers, 14 by steal. Macon had eight of those steals by himself and had his hands on at least a half dozen more deflections in the game.

"We thought we could have some success in the passing lanes," King said. "They were tired and passing it to the same people and we sat on those people. We were trying to get them to make a bad pass or throw it to somebody else."

Perry finished with 20 points to lead all scorers in just his fifth game back from missing a month with a knee injury. Macon had 18 points and four assists while Wattenbarger scored 12 points and had five rebounds.

Cameron Cox had 12 points and Hoeing scored 10 for Rushville which shot 55.3 percent (21-for-38) from the floor but couldn't overcome the turnovers.

The victory was Madison's 11th of the season and clinched the program's first non-losing season since 2007 when the Cubs reached the regional finals.

But more importantly it moves Madison into the sectional finals, a place it hasn't been since 2008.

"The biggest thing was that these seniors won their first sectional game which means none of them had ever won one," King said. "And you never know what will happen tomorrow. All you can ask is that you give yourself a chance to play for the sectional championship and we have done that."

"We want to win it for the seniors, that has been our thing all season," Macon said. "That's how we're looking at it tomorrow."



at Greensburg



MADISON 18 15 11 18 - 62

RUSHVILLE 8 15 18 11 - 52

MADISON (11-10) - (g)Perry 20, (g)Macon 18, (f)Wattenbarger 12, (c)Woolard 6, (f)Thurston 6, Sauley 0, Huffman 0, Manaugh 0, Tucker 0, King 0, Vaughn 0, White 0.

RUSHVILLE (10-12) - (c)Cox 12, (g)Hoeing 10, (g)Laird 8, Yurack 7, (f)Riddell 6, Niehoff 5, (f)Orme 4, Dye 0.

3-Point Goals - Madison 5 (Perry 2, Wattenbarger 2, Macon 1), Rushville 4 (Laird 2, Hoeing 1, Yurack 1). Rebounds - Madison 14 (Wattenbarger 5), Rushville 20 (Hoeing 5). Assists - Madison 10 (Macon 4, Woolard 4), Rushville 11 (Cox 4). Turnovers - Madison 10, Rushville 21. Total Fouls - Madison 10, Rushville 16. Free Throws - Madison 17-21, Rushville 6-8. Fouled Out - Madison: Wattenbarger. Next Game - Madison plays Greensburg in the sectional championship tonight. Rushville's season ends.