For eight minutes, Madison’s quest to win a boys Hoosier Hills Conference basketball championship were going just fine. Despite constant pressure from the Jeffersonville defense, the Cubs had jumped out to an 8-2 lead and held a 13-11 advantage after the first quarter.
But that Red Devil pressure proved to be too much for Madison to handle in the long run and over the next 24 minutes, Jeffersonville took control and crushed the Cubs’ conference hopes at the same time.
It was Jeffersonville, not Madison, that clinched a share of the HHC title on Tuesday, pulling away for a 72-49 win Tuesday at Salm Gym in Madison. At 5-2, the Red Devils and New Albany are atop the league standings and Jennings County and Floyd Central also have two losses but a game to play.
It was a disappointing end to a journey that had seen the Cubs dream about winning their first conference title since 1998, if only briefly. Now 3-3 in league play, Madison will try to wrap up its final league campaign above .500 with a win over Jennings County on Friday.
It was Jeffersonville’s defense that proved to be the difference. Despite that nice start by the Cubs, the Red Devils made it clear that they were going to control the paint, blocking three of Madison’s first four attempts. And that was only the beginning.
As the game wore on, the Cubs wore down and Jeffersonville took control. After that 13-11 start by Madison, the Devils won the second quarter 21-6 and never looked back, building a 32-19 lead at halftime and a 26-point lead midway through the fourth quarter before putting the game on cruise-control.
“I thought their aggression and their speed was really difficult to deal with. They took us out of everything we wanted to do on the offensive end,” Madison coach Sherron Wilkerson said. “As a player, the first time I ever saw pressure like that was my freshman year at IU playing against Kentucky. Man, it rattles you and I thought we got rattled tonight.”
That pressure defense by Jeffersonville harassed Madison into an 8-for-23 shooting performance in the first half and while the Cubs were much better percentage-wise in the second, they still only managed 45 attempts for the game, hitting 19 (42%).
Jeffersonville (11-6, 5-2 HHC), meanwhile, couldn’t miss. After the first quarter, nearly everything the Devils took was at the rim and it showed, hitting 31-of-46 (67%) for the game and outscoring the Cubs 26-14 in the paint.
The only Cub who could do anything offensively was senior Luke Ommen, who tied his career-high with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting while adding 10 rebounds for the double-double. But the rest of Ommen’s teammates combined to score 24 points with leading scorer Luke Miller held to six points or 13 under his average.
Brandon Rayzer-Moore scored 29 points to lead Jeffersonville, which had four players in double figures. Jaylen Fairman had 14 points, Brenton Moore scored 13 and Will Lovings-Watts had 10 points including a pair of dunks.
Madison, now 13-8 on the season, returns to action today when it hosts Switzerland County then wraps up the regular season on Friday at home against Jennings County.