In their final regular season home contest against the Monroe Central Golden Bears, the Madison-Grant Argylls gave themselves a chance to walk away with a victory.
The game was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than seven, and each time one team looked to pull away, the other had a response.
After falling behind by seven early in the fourth quarter, the Argylls came roaring back, tying the game with 1:17 to go on seven straight points from shooting guard Kaden Howell, but a crucial defensive lapse in the final seconds, and several missed opportunities throughout the evening, proved costly, as the Argylls were defeated by the Golden Bears 67-63 last Tuesday evening.
In the first half, the Argylls held the Golden Bears to just 10-of-26 shooting from the field. In the final two quarters, Monroe Central shot 14-of-28 (50 percent) from the field, with many of their makes coming off second chance opportunities.
“They shoot a lot of threes, so there are a lot of long rebounds,” Madison-Grant Head Coach Brian Trout said. “Those are things we talked about in practice yesterday to get ready for them. We just didn’t do it well enough tonight.”
Far too many times, after a great defensive series, the Argylls would either fail to box out or struggle to come away with rebounds, and Monroe Central took advantage throughout the game.
“We just couldn’t get stops when we had to,” Trout said. “They scored on a majority of their second chances. That was the difference. We would force a tough shot, we [wouldn’t get] the board, and they would either get a kick out for a three or they’d get a putback. That was the difference.”
“We played well enough to win, but not quite well enough.”
The Argylls got off to a strong start, building a 15-9 advantage in the first 6:39 of the first quarter, but the Golden Bears ended the quarter on a 7-0 run, taking a 16-15 lead after the first eight minutes of play.
Five straight points to start the second quarter put the Golden Bears up six, but the Argylls quickly righted the ship. Four straight points from Lance Wilson, together with triples from Grant Brown and Howell, cut the Golden Bears’ lead to one at 26-25 with 3:06 remaining in the opening half. Later, Jackson Manwell joined the scoring party, collecting four straight points of his own to put Madison-Grant up three. However, a triple from Monroe Central star Jackson Ullom tied the contest at 29-29 at the halftime break.
The third quarter continued to be tight in its early stages, but the Golden Bears, behind their strong shooting and excellent play on the glass, built their lead back to six on two straight threes from Will Jones. Howell and Manwell each scored to help cut Monroe Central’s lead back to one, but a 6-2 run for the Golden Bears in the final 2:16 of the period put them up by five heading into the final frame.
Monroe Central opened the fourth with a field goal, giving them a game-high seven point lead. But the Argylls proved they would not go away quietly. Each time the Golden Bears looked to put the game
With 1:17 on the clock after Howell’s scoring flurry late in the period, the Golden Bears came down the floor, looking to hold the ball for as long as possible. For most of the possession, the Argylls played excellent defense, keeping the ball in front of them and not allowing any open looks. But with 2.7 seconds left, they lost containment on the back end, and an easy layup inside put the Golden Bears back in front for good and handed the Argylls a gut-wrenching defeat.
“It was a little bit of a loose ball there,” Trout said. “[But] they got it picked up and found the open guy. The game doesn’t come down to one possession. It seems like it in a game like this, but it really doesn’t. There were a lot of things throughout the game that we could have done differently or done better to have a different result.”
Despite the defeat, four Argylls finished in double figures. Wilson led the way with 17 points, while Howell and Manwell each collected 15. Brown rounded out M-G’s double digit scorers with 12.
Ullom led the Golden Bears, and all scorers, with 21 points, 15 of which came in the first half.
Madison-Grant will close out their regular season on Friday night on the road against Taylor.
“We’ve got to stay focused,” Trout said. “We can’t look ahead. We have to take care of business on Friday night to finish out the regular season.”