Playing the second game of a back-to-back is always difficult, regardless if it is at the high school, collegiate, or NBA level.
It is even more difficult to play the second game of a back-to-back coming off an exciting, but draining win.
Coming off their thrilling victory over the Blackford Bruins, Madison-Grant Head Coach Brian Trout was looking for his team to come into Saturday’s contest against Northfield with the same amount of energy and passion.
And they did just that.
The Argylls came out firing from the start, knocking down 59 percent of their shots and playing well enough defensively to come away with a 78-57 victory over the Norsemen.
With the win, Madison-Grant has won four of their last five contests, with their lone loss coming to Mississinewa in the Grant Four Championship game.
“We did what we needed to do,” Madison-Grant Head Coach Brian Trout said. “We took control of the game early. We didn’t play our best, but we did what we needed to do. It was a tough game after [Friday] night. You go from playing in front of a full gym to playing in front of a not very crowded gym, so you’ve got to bring your own energy…and we did that right from the start. I was pleased – we could have played better – but I was pleased.”
The Argylls took a 20-14 lead after the first quarter of play, but really put the contest out of reach in the second, outscoring the Norseman 18-7 to take a double-digit lead into halftime.
While their defensive play was not as stellar in the second half, Madison-Grant led by double digits the rest of the way, cruising to a 21-point victory.
“We only gave up 21 points in the first half, so [we played] really, really good defense in the first half,” Trout said. “We just couldn’t maintain it in the second half. They hit some shots in the second half that they weren’t hitting in the first half, which is expected. We were up 20, 22, 24 pretty much the whole second half, and it’s tough for high school kids to play with the same kind of intensity when they have a big lead.”
Four Argylls finished in double figures. Isaac Cooper was perfect, scoring 19 points on nine-for-nine shooting from the field, while Jackson Manwell scored 18. Kaden Howell, who knocked down the game-winning free throws against Blackford, finished with 16 on four-for eight shooting, while Grant Brown came away with 10 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.
Together, Cooper, Manwell, Howell, and Brown shot a combined 64 percent.
“It’s always important,” Trout said of balanced scoring. “Anytime you can spread it around, it makes it difficult for a team to defend. If they try to take one guy away, we can go somewhere else, so that always make it nice. We spread the ball around well.”
The Argylls played great basketball over the weekend, but will face a tough test next Friday night, as they travel to Frankton, and the raucous Eagles Nest, for a huge conference matchup.
“Our focus has got to be on making better decisions with the basketball,” Trout said. “We’ve got to take care of the basketball, and we have to handle the environment next week. We didn’t handle it very well at Mississinewa the first time, so we’ve got to do a better job of that. We’re on the road, a big CIC game, so we’ve to be able to handle that and play with confidence.”