Madison senior Harper Watson watches the closing moments of the Cubs' sectional loss. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison senior Harper Watson watches the closing moments of the Cubs' sectional loss. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
CHARLESTOWN — Madison had everything going its way. Two minutes into the second half, the Cubs were riding a wave of momentum and led No. 5 Silver Creek by 10 in the semifinals of the Class 3A Sectional at Charlestown on Friday.
But the momentum shift was swift and stunning. The Dragons closed the third quarter on a 14-3 run to seize the lead then pulled away in the fourth quarter to end Madison’s season, 62-46.
The Cubs shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half and outrebounded Silver Creek 26-21 for the game, but Madison simply couldn’t hold the Dragons back forever.
“That’s just such a good team. We knew what type of defense they were going to have, we prepared for it all week, practiced against the boys, and we held off that tide for as long as we possibly could,” Madison coach Sonja Bowyer said. “We just ran out of magic at the end.”
Madison played arguably its worst game of the season in a 77-50 loss at Silver Creek last month and the Cubs were determined not to make the same mistake in the tournament.
After a ragged start, Madison’s defense clamped down and the offense went to work. The Cubs trailed 11-9 after the first quarter but locked down the Dragons on the second, taking a nine-point lead late in the quarter while getting Creek into serious foul trouble.
Madison led just 26-21 at the half but quickly pushed the lead to 10 early in the third on baskets by Jade Nutley, Lundun Perry and Jessie Dyer and a 3-pointer by Perry. With 5:50 to go in the quarter, the Cubs were in the driver’s seat.
Madison’s lead was still at nine (37-28) after a Nutley layup with 3:54 left in the third when Silver Creek started taking control. A 3-pointer by Jaclyn Emly kick-started the Dragon comeback, and Alana Striverson followed with four free throws and a layup to tie the game at 37-37 with 1:53 to go. An Emly basket right before the buzzer put Silver Creek on top.
Madison managed just eight points in the fourth quarter but the Cubs still had a chance to pull off the upset. Silver Creek went ahead by eight (46-38) early in the fourth, but a Nutley basket with 2:41 to play pulled the Cubs back to within four. A Creek miss on a free throw led to a Nutley rebound and Madison had a chance to pull within one possession, but the Cubs promptly turned the ball over. Another turnover on Madison’s next possession led to two more Dragon points.
Silver Creek then scored 12 points over the final minute and a half to blow open the game.
“I feel like Silver Creek’s defense was finally pushing us up to the halfcourt line and instead of looking toward the basket, we just kept looking back and forth and really never got that momentum shifited back our way,” Bowyer said. “Once that happened, it was hard to overcome.”
Nutley finished the game with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting with 11 rebounds and three blocks. Senior Harper Watson, who came off the bench to spur Madison’s big second quarter, scored four points and Taylor Lynch had seven points and four rebounds.
Junior Alana Striverson, who went over 1,000 career points last week, led Silver Creek with 26 points while Emly hit 4-of-6 on 3-pointers and scored 18 points. As a team, the Dragons shot 57 percent (12-for-21) from the floor in the second half and 46 percent (19-for-41) for the game.
Silver Creek improves to 21-3 on the season and will take on No. 1 Salem (21-3) in the sectional championship game on Saturday night. The Lions held off a late charge from host Charlestown to win 42-34.
Madison ends the season with a 14-9 record and says goodbye to seniors Jessie Dyer, Morgan Cahall, Meghan Eades, Watson and Paige Young that helped lead the Cubs to their most wins in a season and first winning season since the 2014-15 campaign. But the Cubs return three of their five starters and have a talented young group ready to come in.
“Talking with (the seniors), it stinks to lose sectionals but I tried to remind them what they accomplished this year,” Bowyer said. “This is the best record we’ve had in a couple of years and the first winning season in a couple of years. I know it’s hard to end on a note like that, but we need to make sure that we’re celebrating the season we had.”
at Charlestown

MADISON 9 17 12 8 — 46
SILVER CREEK 11 10 18 23 — 62

MADISON (14-9) — Nutley 17, Watson 7, Lynch 7, Dyer 6, Perry 5, Young 4, Jay 0, Cahall 0, Ferguson 0, Eades 0.
SILVER CREEK (21-3) — A. Striverson 26, Emly 18, K. Striverson 6, Kirchgessner 6, Rooney 4, Sierota 2, Grimm 0, Phillips 0.

3-Point Goals — Madison 1 (Perry 1), Silver Creek 6 (Emly 4, A. Striverson 2). Rebounds — Madison 26 (Nutley 11), Silver Creek 21 (K. Striverson 7). Assists — Madison 10 (Lynch 3), Silver Creek 12 (A. Striverson 3, K. Striverson 3). Turnovers — Madison 20, Silver Creek 11. Total Fouls — Madison 17, Silver Creek 17. Free Throws — Madison 9-14, Silver Creek 18-21. Fouled Out — Silver Creek: K. Striverson.