Despite a new head coach and a new system to learn and master, the Madison-Grant Argylls diligently put in the work during the offseason and preseason, readying themselves for the upcoming campaign.
And in their home opener against Wabash, it paid off, as Kevin Cherry’s first game at the helm of the Madison-Grant boys basketball program was a rousing success.
Kaden Howell and Grant Brown shined on the offensive side of the floor, and the Argylls’ defense held the Wabash offense in check in a 65-31 triumph on Saturday night in Fairmount.
“I loved the way we competed,” Cherry said. “Wabash has a program [whose] DNA is strong and physical. They make things tough on you. I’m really proud of the way the kids executed. I’ve seen them work so hard every day since July, and they just keep coming in, and they do exactly what we ask them to do. Tonight, I think they saw the fruits of their labor.”
Howell found his shooting stroke early and continued to shoot the ball well throughout the evening, leading the Argylls with 18 points. Brown finished with 16 points to go along with eight rebounds and six assists.
“We have some pieces,” Cherry said. “Grant Brown is a load to get in front of, and if you’re a shooter like Kaden, [it opens everything up.] Those two compliment each other really well.”
Additionally, Madison-Grant’s defense, an area of weakness at times last year, was excellent. After giving up 11 points in the first quarter of play, the Argylls gave up just 20 points the rest of the way. For the game, Madison-Grant held Wabash to just 12-of-60 (20 percent) from the field and a woeful two-of-22 (nine percent) from beyond the arc.
After Justin Moore opened the scoring with a strong look in the post, Howell knocked down his first three of the night off a high-post screen. The basket seemed to settle the Argylls down into their offensive rhythm, and from that moment, they controlled the contest. Howell finished the quarter with 11 points, including three triples, as the Argylls took a 22-11 lead.
“He made his first shot, and then it just snowballed from there,” Cherry said. “Everybody else fed off of that energy, and we did shoot it really well tonight.”
In the second quarter, it was the Argylls’ defense that made the difference. Madison-Grant held the Apaches to zero-of-eight shooting from the floor, giving up just two points on a pair of free throws.
“We have put a tremendous amount of emphasis on defensively being great since I got here in July,” Cherry said. “There isn’t a practice or workout that doesn’t go by where we don’t spend time trying to be great defensively. To accomplish the goals that we want to accomplish, we are going to have to be great defensively. Defensively, our effort was really good. We really locked in on them.”
Brown scored his first six points on a pair of threes late in the second quarter, while Howell and Jackson Manwell also hit triples to increase the Argylls’ lead to 34-13 at the halftime break.
Armed with a double-digit advantage, Madison-Grant kept the pedal down in the second half. They shot 50 percent in the final two quarters, while holding Wabash to just seven more field goals. Brown led the Argylls in the second half, scoring 10 points to help Madison-Grant put the game away.
As a team, Madison-Grant shot 24-of-59 (41 percent) from the field and 10-of-23 (43 percent) from beyond the arc. Moore was the third Argyll to finish in double figures with 10, while Manwell added eight points in Madison-Grant’s victory.
“It was a good win,” Cherry said. “We executed, but we told the guys that that’s our standard. We are on a steady, upward climb, and we want to be peaking at the end of the season and not right now. But it was a good first win. I’m proud of the kids for the way they played.”
For the Apaches, Joseph Leland finished with nine points, while David Ford collected seven points.
Madison-Grant will be back in action this coming Friday night against the Wes-Del Warriors