MADISON BOYS BASKETBALL

Madison’s Jackson Lynch (34) fires a 3-pointer during the Cubs’ loss at Scottsburg on Friday.

SCOTTSBURG — Not too many coaches can smile after watching their team drop a contest on the road against a bitter rival. But considering what the Cubs nearly overcame Friday, Madison head coach Adam Stotts felt like he had reason to be happy.

Madison was outscored 18-2 at the free-throw line and didn’t get a single point from its leading scorer until the fourth quarter but still battled Scottsburg down to the wire before falling 58-54 on Friday.

Sure, it wasn’t a win, but all things considered, Stotts was pleased with the outcome.

“I came in a locker room smiling and it was weird because my guys are beating themselves up. This is the second time in two weeks that we’ve played Scottsburg and we have proven that they’re not 20 points better than us,” Stotts said. “I thought we could have won if we used all of our stuff, but we wanted to save some stuff for sectionals. So we really didn’t throw everything out that we had and then for us to come here and show that we can compete and not only compete but come back, I’m excited. We shot two free throws and now here we are in a four-point game against one of the best teams in the area.”

Madison, which had beaten Scottsburg in double-overtime at home during the Jefferson County Invitational Tournament, led 17-15 after the first quarter of Friday’s game but trailed most of the night. Scottsburg built a 15-point lead (46-31) early in the fourth quarter and appeared to be ready to cruise to the win when the Cubs righted themselves and closed the contest on a tear.

Junior Kaden Oliver, who came into the game averaging over 22 points per game, was held scoreless through three quarters as Scottsburg concentrated all of its defensive effort on stopping him. Jackson Lynch and Jackson Falconberry made up for the lack of points over the first three quarters, but Oliver took it upon himself in the fourth to bring the Cubs back.

It was Oliver’s short jumper with a hand in his face early in the fourth that started the comeback. Over the final 6:30 of the game, Madison outscored the Warriors 23-12 and may very well have won the game had it been able to get to the free-throw line.

Madison averages nearly 20 free throw attempts per game but didn’t go to the line until Falconberry hit a pair of free throws with four seconds left to close the gap to four.

Scottsburg, meanwhile, didn’t have such worries. The Warriors went to the line 24 times — hitting 18 — and made the most of those opportunities, hitting 10-of-12 in the fourth quarter to keep the Cubs at bay.

Despite the tilted advantage in free throws, Stotts wasn’t going to pin the loss on the refs.

“I really respect those refs. They heard me all night and they talked to me. A lot of refs won’t do that. But it is hard to win when you’re shooting only two free throws,” Stotts said. “But we have to play through it. That’s going to happen on the road and you have to expect it.”

Lynch finished with a career-high 17 points to lead Madison, which shot 10% higher from the field than Scottsburg — 49% to 39% — led by Falconberry’s double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds while Oliver scored nine and Henry Grote had eight.

Things went much more smoothly for Madison on Saturday, which jumped out a big lead early and never looked back in a 67-46 win over Charlestown at home.

The Cubs led 19-15 after the first quarter and stretched that out to 37-26 by halftime. Madison ended up winning every quarter to pull away for the win.

Oliver scored 23 points while Falconberry had 11 points and Grote and Quincy Reynolds each scored eight.

Madison, now 5-7 on the season, hosts Lawrenceburg on Friday in its only game this week.