Dejection shows on the faces of Madison players (above, from left) Alex Weaver, Willie Huffman, Tanner Sauley and Scott King in the closing minutes of the Cubs’ 55-51 loss to Silver Creek in the opening round of the IHSAA Class 3A Sectional at North Harrison on Wednesday. Madison’s Landon Perry (below, with ball) goes to the basket over Creek’s Nick Tinsley. Perry scored a team-high 13 points and fell one shy of 1,000 for his career. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Dejection shows on the faces of Madison players (above, from left) Alex Weaver, Willie Huffman, Tanner Sauley and Scott King in the closing minutes of the Cubs’ 55-51 loss to Silver Creek in the opening round of the IHSAA Class 3A Sectional at North Harrison on Wednesday. Madison’s Landon Perry (below, with ball) goes to the basket over Creek’s Nick Tinsley. Perry scored a team-high 13 points and fell one shy of 1,000 for his career. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
RAMSEY - Madison began its Class 3A sectional basketball tournament opener hotter than a firecracker, scoring the first eight points and rushing out to a 13-2 lead after the first quarter.

But things were never as easy again for the Cubs, who struggled the rest of the game and saw their hopes for a long tournament run dashed after just one game, 55-51 by Silver Creek Wednesday at North Harrison High School.

It was the second loss this season by Madison to Silver Creek and like the earlier loss in late January, this one had the feeling of a missed opportunity.

"All of a sudden there was a lid on it," Madison coach Pat King said. "They were 5-of-20-something in the first half. We should have run off and hid. In actuality, they scored more than we did in the second quarter. They closed the gap. That might have been the difference in the game.

"When we had them 13-2 in the second and didn't run off and hide, that was our fault," King added. "We should have been able to take care of that."

Madison's game plan coming in was to speed up Creek and use its full-court ability to run away from the Dragons. The ploy almost worked.

Carson Wattenbarger opened the game with a 3-pointer, Landon Perry drove to the hoop for two and later converted a three-point play for the early 8-0 lead.

Creek's Zach Davidson hit a pair of free throws to end the run but Madison got another free throw from Wattenbarger, a Willie Huffman jumper and a Nick Macon drive to the basket to lead 13-2 after one.

Silver Creek, meanwhile, struggled to find the hoop in the first half, going just 5-of-22 from the floor. But as King said, the Dragons began to chip into Madison's lead after the Cubs went ice-cold in the second quarter.

Madison (14-6) went just 4-of-14 from the floor in the second quarter and while Creek was 4-of-12, the Dragons made up for it by going 5-for-7 from the free-throw line to cut the lead to 22-15 by halftime.

Wattenbarger hit a short jumper to open the third quarter and put Madison ahead by nine but the rest of the quarter belonged to the Dragons. After struggling from the floor in the first half, Silver Creek found its rhythm in the third and began knocking down shots.

The Dragons (13-8) cut the lead to two points on five different occasions in the third before finally going ahead in a Shae Durham three-point play with 41 seconds left in the period. Creek took a 35-34 lead into the fourth.

The teams played back and forth for much of the fourth quarter before Creek finally took control. Madison held its last lead of the game with 4:04 left on a Kyle Tucker jumper but the Dragons answered with an 8-0 run to take their largest lead of the game, 47-40, with 1:58 remaining.

Madison battled back but never seriously threatened to re-take the lead. Trailing by five with 53 seconds left, Perry stole the inbounds pass and quickly hit a short jumper to close the gap to three. But Silver Creek answered with free throws to eventually push the margin back to six (51-45) with 21 seconds left.

A Tucker three-point play with 13 seconds left closed the margin to three but the Dragons' Jake Steele answered with two free throws to push the lead back to five. Perry then hit a 3-pointer with less than two seconds to go to pull Madison back to within three at 54-51.

But Creek's Nick Tinsley hit one free throw on the other end to set the final margin at four and end the Cubs' hopes. Perry's last-second 3-pointer clanged off the rim.

Silver Creek made up for its first-half shooting woes big-time, hitting 12-of-16 (75 percent) in the second half, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. The Dragons were also 13-of-17 from the free-throw line, part of a dominating 18-of-24 (75 percent) performance from the foul stripe.

Madison hit half of its shots in the second half (12-of-24) but that was not nearly enough in the face of the Dragons' torrid pace. The Cubs also went to the free-throw line only eight times, hitting four.

"We tried to make adjustments, we just didn't follow through with them," King said. "We knew (Gabe) Bauer was going to shoot it in the second half and we kept saying 'find him, find him, find him.' We finally ended up going man-to-man but I knew we could not match up with them man-to-man unless we went full-court. They had five-straight possessions in the fourth where they scored when we went man-to-man because we couldn't match up with them."

Perry's last-second 3-point attempt would not have had any bearing on the final result, but it would have pushed the senior over 1,000 career points. Perry finished the game with a team-high 13 points and ended his stellar career with 999 career points, agonizingly close to become the 15th player in school history to join the 1,000-point club.

Wattenbarger finished his career with 10 points and eight rebounds while Tucker had 10 points. Macon scored nine points and had seven assists.

Bauer scored all of his game-high 15 points in the second half to lead Silver Creek. Davidson scored 12 and Christian Reed had 11.

Silver Creek advances to the sectional semifinals on Friday where it will face No. 6 Corydon Central, a 64-43 winner over North Harrison in the first game. Seventh-ranked Brownstown Central and Charlestown will meet in Friday's first semifinal.

Madison graduates five seniors - Scott King, Tyler Manaugh, Perry, Tanner Sauley and Wattenbarger - and coach King was loathe to see them go.

"The seniors are obviously taking this hard. We had three good seasons together and the tough thing in this business is that you can have a great year, but when you get a tough draw like this, you can be one-and-done," coach King said. "The nice thing about the seniors is that this is just a chapter in their book. All five of those kids are going to go off to college and have successful college careers and do well for themselves. You'd like to see them win a couple of games in the tournament after the season we had but it just didn't happen."

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CLASS 3A SECTIONAL 30

at Ramsey

Wednesday's Quarterfinals

SILVER CREEK 55,

CLASS 3A NO. 13 MADISON 51



SILVER CREEK 2 13 20 20 - 55

MADISON 13 9 12 17 - 51



SILVER CREEK (13-8) - (g)Bauer 15, (f)Davidson 12, (c)Reed 11, Howell 5, (g)Tinsley 4, Durham 3, Garr 3, (f)Steele 2.

MADISON (14-6) - (g)Perry 13, Tucker 10, (f)Wattenbarger 10, (g)Macon 9, (g)Huffman 5, King 2, (c)Manaugh 2, Weaver 0, Sauley 0.



3-Point Goals - Silver Creek 3 (Bauer 2, Howell 1), Madison 5 (Perry 2, Tucker 1, Huffman 1, Wattenbarger 1). Rebounds - Silver Creek 31 (Bauer 8), Madison 27 (Wattenbarger 8). Assists - Silver Creek 6 (Howell 3), Madison 10 (Macon 7). Turnovers - Silver Creek 11, Madison 9. Total Fouls - Silver Creek 14, Madison 23. Free Throws - Silver Creek 18-24, Madison 4-8. Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Silver Creek plays Corydon Central in the sectional semifinals Friday. Madison's season ends.