WINDOW CLEANING: Madison’s Tyler Manaugh rips a rebound out of the air (above) over teammate Matt Woolard and Rock Creek’s Will Brown during Thursday’s game. Sophomore Nick Macon celebrates after the final horn (below). The Cubs survived for the 46-43 win. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
WINDOW CLEANING: Madison’s Tyler Manaugh rips a rebound out of the air (above) over teammate Matt Woolard and Rock Creek’s Will Brown during Thursday’s game. Sophomore Nick Macon celebrates after the final horn (below). The Cubs survived for the 46-43 win. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
SELLERSBURG - Landon Perry hit two crucial layups down the stretch and Matt Woolard provided a game-clinching block to allow Madison to escape Rock Creek Academy 46-43 in boys basketball Thursday in Sellersburg.

The Cubs, who climbed back over the .500 mark with the win, led by as many as 11 in the second quarter but still needed late-game heroics to score the win.

Perry, seeing his first action since early January after injuring his knee, scored both of his layups in transition. The first came after Nick Macon rebounded a Will Brown miss and fired a baseball pass to the streaking Perry to put the Cubs on top 44-42 with 1:15 left in the game.

Devin Burt hit one free throw to pull Rock Creek to within one but Perry pushed the margin back to three after teammate Carson Wattenbarger was pinned on the sideline but still managed to flip the ball to Ryan Thurston who hit a streaking Perry for the easy bucket with 31 seconds left.

Rock Creek still had a chance to tie but opted to go for two instead. Burt worked his way to the basket but Woolard rejected the attempt with nine seconds showing. Thurston grabbed the rebound and alertly threw a rainbow pass downcourt and the Cubs ran out the clock to escape with the win.

"I felt like that this was going to be a classic trap game and it was," Madison coach Pat King said. "You're playing a 1A school in essentially a church gym and it's hard to get up for the game. We got trapped but I thought we responded when we needed to."

Madison (9-8) showed no signs of overlooking the Lions early. After trailing 5-4, the Cubs dominated the rest of a fast-paced first quarter to lead 18-8 after one. Madison pushed its lead to 11 (21-12) early in the second on a Macon 3-pointer.

But Rock Creek's size and athleticism brought the Lions back, led by 6-foot-7 Gedeon Nzombi and 6-foot-6 Ronald Karenzi, both sophomores.

The Lions (7-12) held a 21-12 rebounding edge in the first half including 11 offensive boards. That advantage allowed Rock Creek to outscore Madison 12-2 on second-chance points in the first two quarters and trail only 30-28 at halfime.

"They were so darn tall that they would just keep slapping the ball to themselves. It was like Columbus North all over again," King said. "We kept telling the guys to box out and they were like, 'coach, we are boxing out.' It just didn't do any good."

Madison slowed down the pace in the second half and while King did not intend for his team to score just 16 points in the final two quarters, he did want to take away Rock Creek's biggest strength: its size.

For the most part the plan worked. The Lions got just two offensive rebounds in the second half and only two more second-chance points. Madison, meanwhile, kept the ball away from Rock Creek's scorers.

Still, the Lions weren't ready to go away. Isaiah Pearson hit a 3-pointer to put Rock Creek back on top 31-30 with 4:56 left in the third. Madison was in the midst of a long scoring drought and it wasn't until Woolard hit a jumper with 2:42 left in the frame that the Cubs got back on the board.

Madison took a 38-33 lead into the fourth but Rock Creek tied the game 40-40 on Nzombi's basket with 4:31 to play. Woolard reclaimed the lead for Madison with a jumper but Burt answered with a dunk to set up the final moments.

The 6-foot-2 Woolard finished the game with 13 points but only one rebound while battling the taller Lions. Teammate Tyler Manaugh, at 6-foot-6 Madison's tallest player, had just two points but had seven rebounds.

King was extremely pleased with his two post players, especially considering the tall task they faced.

"I thought Matt played pretty well. We told him to stay on the baseline because of their size and he did a good job," King said. "And we wanted Tyler to get in there and post up but at 150 pounds, he's not going to move a lot of guys around. But I thought he made some huge plays and really came up big."

Macon continued his recent strong play with a game-high 16 points and four assists. Perry scored six points, all in the fourth quarter, as he played only 15 minutes in his first game back.

"Landon had six points, all in the fourth quarter, and they were huge baskets," King said. "It shows how important it is to have him out there."

Brown and Nzombi scored 12 points each to lead Rock Creek, which shot just 36 percent (17-of-47) for the game. Karenzi had 10 rebounds and four blocks.

Madison was 20-of-44 (45.5 percent) for the game but struggled from the 3-point line (3-of-14) and went to the free-throw line only four times, none in the second half.

Madison returns to action next Friday when it hosts Columbus East in the Cubs' final Hoosier Hills Conference game of the season. The Cubs then travel to South Ripley and close the season at home against Switzerland County.

"We're going to give the guys tomorrow off so they can go to the girls sectional game which means they are going to get a three-day weekend," King said. "But starting on Monday, we're in sectional mode. We play Friday, Tuesday, Friday and then it's the tournament. Everything we do from now on will be geared toward the sectional."

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THURSDAY'S BOYS GAME

at Sellersburg

MADISON 46, ROCK CREEK 43



MADISON 18 12 8 8 - 46

ROCK CREEK 8 20 5 10 - 43



MADISON (9-8) - (g)Macon 16, (f)Woolard 13, Perry 6, (f)Thurston 5, Wattenbarger 4, (c)Manaugh 2, (g)Huffman 0, King 0, Sauley 0.

ROCK CREEK (7-12) - (g)Brown 12, Nzombi 12, (f)Burt 7, Joseph 5, (f)Pearson 5, (c)Karenzi 2, (g)Logsdon 0, Gerth 0.



3-Point Goals - Madison 3 (Macon 2, Thurston 1), Rock Creek 3 (Brown 2, Pearson 1). Rebounds - Madison 24 (Manaugh 7), Rock Creel 32 (Karenzi 10). Assists - Madison 12 (Macon 4), Rock Creek 8 (Joseph 3). Turnovers - Madison 11, Rock Creek 13. Total Fouls - Madison 12, Rock Creek 7. Free Throws - Madison 3-4 (75%), Rock Creek 6-9 (67%). Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Madison hosts Columbus East Feb. 15. Rock Creek visits Providence Tuesday.