FALLING SHORT: Madison’s Nick Macon gazes at the scoreboard after fouling out of the Cubs’ 73-70 loss at North Harrison Saturday night as coach Pat King looks for a substitute. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
FALLING SHORT: Madison’s Nick Macon gazes at the scoreboard after fouling out of the Cubs’ 73-70 loss at North Harrison Saturday night as coach Pat King looks for a substitute. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
RAMSEY - Madison came up a couple of plays short for the second consecutive night as the Cubs followed Friday's 61-54 loss to Silver Creek with a 73-70 setback at North Harrison that came down to the last play of the game on the Cougars' homecoming.

Like Friday's home loss to the Dragons, Madison did enough right earlier in the game to carry a lead into the latter stages of the contest only to see its opponent rally as the Cubs failed to close the deal.

"I'm frustrated. I thought we'd win two this weekend. I thought we we're good enough to win two and I thought we played well enough tonight to win," Madison coach Pat King said Saturday.

"It was a good game. We shot the ball well. The kids did what they were supposed to do. North Harrison is going to make some shots, but we knew that," King added. "Our biggest challenge right now is to be able to handle a fourth quarter lead. The last two nights we've lost leads in the fourth quarter that we had established at the end of three and that just takes some more discipline and work on all of our parts."

In a game that was tied 10 times and featured 22 lead changes, the Cubs took the largest lead of the night at the close of the third quarter when senior forward Ryan Thurston heaved in a baseball throw from beyond center court for a 58-53 Madison cushion.

The two teams continued to trade leads the rest of the way - there were three lead changes and one tie in the fourth - but North Harrison got the clutch scores when the Cougars needed them to complete the comeback and close out the win.

Madison took its final lead change of the night on a 3-pointer by Thurston with 6:04 left that made it 63-61 Cubs. Madison scored off a steal by Nick Macon a minute later to go up 65-62 but North Harrison turned the game around over the next 30 seconds.

The Cougars took the lead for good with 4:22 in the game when Macon was whistled for his fourth foul and Tyler Bement missed the front end of a bonus only to see the ball rebounded by North's Gage Arnold and end up in the hands of Cory Smith for a 3-pointer that made it 67-65 North Harrison.

"They did a good job of going to the boards in the second half and we had some problems keeping them off the glass but that's just because they were so aggressive," King said. "They're so aggressive offensively that they just chase after it."

Madison managed to tie the game once more  - at 67-67 on a pair of free throws by Macon with 2:39 left - but a Cougar steal put North up 69-67 and Dalton Fessel scored inside to make it 71-68 with 1:43 left.

Still, Madison had its chances in the final seconds. Macon scored on a baseline drive with 1:00 left to trail 71-70 and the Cubs got the ball back and used two timeouts while running off clock and trying to set up a game-winning play in the final 30 seconds.

But in the end, a Madison turnover gave the ball back to the Cougars with 4.2 seconds left - a play that also cost Macon his fifth foul - and John Martin hit both free throws to make it 73-70 North Harrison.

The Cubs and Cougars used their remaining timeouts to set, and reset for a final Madison play to try to tie the game. The inbounds pass came into Huffman in the backcourt but his pass intended for Thurston was picked off to end the game as Madison went its final two possessions without getting a shot off.

"They are the toughest play to execute," King said of inbounding the ball late with the length of the court between the team and a game-tying 3-pointer. "You're just one bad pass away or one deflection away from the end of the game. And we had Nick on the bench. Everything we do goes through Nick and he's sitting over there with me. Now we've got other people trying to do what he does so well.

"We told Willie you've got one dribble to get rid of it and still give us a chance to get a catch and a chance to shoot. He had to really come down deeper for the ball than I wanted him too and they picked off the pass.

"It was supposed to go to Thurston out there on the wing - he'd had a really good second half so I thought he was the first person we should try to go to - and we had it set up to where if he could have hit it we could have tied the game and go from there," King said. "... we did all that right and were just one pass away from having a chance to get a shot off to tie."

Thurston was indeed to go-to guy Saturday. The senior jump-shooter had scored 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Macon, Madison's sophomore guard, led the Cubs with 22 points but he was already fouled out by then. Senior forward Matt Woolard added 11 points and junior forward Carson Wattenbarger just missed a double-double with nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Smith, who also drained five 3-pointers, led all scorers with 25 points for North Harrison (11-4) while Martin added 18 and Bement scored 13.

Madison out-rebounded the Cougars 29-22 but the Cubs' 16 turnovers were double that of North Harrison. And while Madison out-scored North 12-5 at the foul line, the Cougars held a 17-2 advantage in points off turnovers and 20-7 in points off the bench.

"They got a few steals and we had a lot of turnovers," King said. "We had 16 turnovers and that's double what we've been having so they forced us into some mistakes."

King conceded that Madison's inability to close out games after working hard to build second half leads could be a problem of attrition - especially with starting guard Landon Perry still out with an injury. The Cubs played eight Saturday night but the bulk of the court time went to the five starters and reserve Tanner Sauley.

"Landon's sitting on the bench and that's another scorer for us. You figure he's averaging 15 a game and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that even if he gets 10, we win," King said. "The people coming off the bench are giving us good contributions but they know what their roles are and they are not scorers."

After two non-conference games, Madison (7-8) will step back into the Hoosier Hills Conference Friday when the Cubs host Seymour (1-14).

"The frustrating part this weekend is that we lost two leads but hopefully that's something we can fix during the month of February," King said.



at Ramsey


MADISON 18 20 20 12 - 70

NORTH HARRISON 19 18 16 20 - 73

MADISON (7-8) - (g)Macon 22, (f)Thurston 16, (c)Woolard 12, (f)Wattenbarger 9, Sauley 7, (f)Huffman 4, King 0, Vaughn 0.

NORTH HARRISON (11-4) - (g)Smith 25, Martin 18, (g)Bement 13, (g)Hinton 9, (f)Fessel 4, (f)Nolot 2, Arnold 2, Dones 0, Cockerham.

3-Point Goals - Madison 10 (Thurston 5, Macon 2, Woolard 1, Wattenbarger 1, Sauley 1), North Harrison 8 (Smith 5, Martin 2, Hinton 1). Free Throws - Madison 12-15 (80%), North Harrison 5-10 (50%). Total Fouls - Madison 13, North Harrison 11. Fouled Out - Madison: Macon, North Harrison: None. Rebounds - Madison 29 (Wattenbarger 11), North Harrison 22 (Fessel 6). Assists - Madison 13 (Macon 4, Huffman 4), North Harrison 14 (Hinton 6). Steals - Madison 5, North Harrison 9. Turnovers - Madison 16, North Harrison 8. Next Game - Madison hosts Seymour Friday. North Harrison visits Crawford Co. Friday.