Constant improvement characterizes the Madison-Grant Argylls’ 2019-2020 season.
Record aside, they have played some of their best basketball over this past month, and on Thursday night, Madison-Grant capped off the regular season with their best performance to date.
Four players finished in double figures, which included a career-high 14-point performance from Daya Greene, as the Argylls head in sectional play with some momentum with a 51-43 triumph over the Alexandria Tigers.
Along with scoring 14 points, Greene, one of the smaller players on the court, played like she was one of the biggest, collecting nine rebounds. Zoey Barnett recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, five on the offensive glass, while Azmae Turner also scored 12 points. Gracey Fox capped off Madison-Grant’s double-digit scoring with 10 points, eight of which came after halftime.
“We set the tone early defensively,” Madison-Grant Head Coach Brandon Bradley said. “And then, we figured out how to score in the third quarter.”
While it took some time for the Argylls’ offense to find their rhythm, their defense made life difficult for Alexandria. In the first eight minutes, Madison-Grant forced six Tiger turnovers, and a pair of buckets from Barnett and Greene at the end of the quarter gave the Argylls a 12-7 lead.
Alexandria pushed back in the second stanza, cutting Madison-Grant’s advantage to two points on three separate occasions, but each time, the Argylls had an answer.
After the Tigers made it 12-10 on a Reece VanBlair field goal, Turner responded with a layup on the other end to put the Argylls’ advantage back to four. Barnett followed shortly after with a pair of free throws, and Greene, after the Tigers cut the Argylls’ lead down to two for a third time, knocked down her second field goal to give the Argylls an 18-14 edge.
Each team ended the quarter with a free throw, as Madison-Grant headed into the halftime break leading 19-15.
Madison-Grant held the Tigers to just five-of-18 shooting from the field in the first two quarters, and despite Alexandria coming close on a number of occasions, they never gave up the lead.
“In the first few minutes, we were sped up,” Bradley said. “We were making quick decisions, quick passes, and quick shots without any rhythm. [But] then as the game matured, [the girls] slowed down.”
While their defense allowed them to stay in front, their offense began to knock down some shots in the third quarter, creating some much-needed separation.
Over the first 3:13 of the period, the Argylls used a 12-4 run to take a game-high 11 point lead. And while the Tigers answered with a 12-6 surge to end the frame, Madison-Grant still led 36-31 heading into the final quarter.
After only turning the ball over six times in the first three quarters, the Argylls proceeded to have trouble with turnovers in the final frame, giving it up on five of their first seven possessions. This allowed the Tigers to make their final push, once again cutting the Argylls’ advantage down to two points.
But in the guts of the game, Madison-Grant knocked down the shots they needed to.
Clinging to a two-point advantage, Greene acted as the closer, knocking down two crucial free throws to make it a four-point game at 44-40. Fox followed with a field goal, and Greene hit two more free throws to give the Argylls a 48-40 advantage they would not relinquish.
At the free throw line in the fourth, the Argylls finished 10-of-12, with Greene making six of her eight opportunities.
“I’m just really proud of them bouncing back from Saturday to play like this tonight,” Bradley said. “I’m super proud of them.
While Madison-Grant only shot 17-of-50 for the game, they kept the Alexandria offense in check all evening, allowing just 15 field goals in 41 chances and forcing 17 Tiger turnovers. VanBlair led the Tigers with 18 points, while Jada Stansberry scored 10 points, all in the second half.
The Argylls’ attention now turns to Sectional 39, where they will take on host and Grant County rival Eastbrook in the opening round.