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Madison pulls away from Conneaut

Jan. 10—CONNEAUT — The Madison Blue Streaks trailed after the first quarter to the Conneaut Spartans, but quickly settled in during the second quarter making adjustments to pull away for a 79-43 win Tuesday night in Chagrin Valley Conference play.

Conneaut trailed most of the first quarter but tied the game at 16 when senior guard Chance Loomis hit a 3-pointer with 2:10 remaining in the period.

The Spartans took a 21-18 lead with 42 seconds left in the first quarter. But Madison scored the first seven points to begin the second quarter to take a 25-21 lead and never trailed again.

The Blue Streaks' defense held the Spartans to just five points in the second quarter to provide a 41-26 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.

Madison pulled away early in the third quarter and held Conneaut to just six points to lead 69-32 to start the fourth quarter.

Madison coach Nick Gustin said his team talked at halftime about stopping the Spartans from getting easy baskets and establishing a strong defensive presence.

"I thought we did a really good job that first minute of the third quarter with a 9-0 run," Gustin said. "So it was an important difference in the second half."

Gustin said Madison's slow start was partly because his team was too hyped and needed to slow down.

"Basketball is a controlled intensity. We were just kind of running around there and over pursuing and out of position," Gustin said of his team's play in the first quarter. "Really midway through the second half we started to get it and it was nice to see. It was a really nice defensive job on these guys."

Senior J.P. Dragas led all scorers with 26 points for the Blue Streaks and junior guard Dom Magda had 11 points for Madison, which had nine players score. Senior Noah Crites and junior Ryan Radkoski each added eight points.

Dragas, who averages 26 points, said he was slightly surprised the Spartans came out in a zone defense. That's because most teams play a box-and-one defense to try to slow him down.

"After the first quarter things settled in for us and we trust each other," Dragas said. "When they came out in a zone it was a little surprising, but we have a lot of shooters this year and they are confident, and they know what their job is so it makes it a lot easier.

Madison improved to 8-3 on the season and 4-1 in CVC play. Conneaut dropped to 3-7 and 0-5 in conference games.

The Blue Streaks shot 33-for-61 (54.09%) from the field while holding the Spartans to 14-for-45 (31.11%) shooting.

Conneaut was led by Loomis with 17 points and senior J.R. Hutchison had nine. Juniors Jordan Kulko and Noah Hamm each added seven.

Spartans coach Rich Marshall said the Blue Streaks are well-coached and the experience of the Madison players showed as they played with poise.

"They executed their system consistently for 32 minutes. Conversely, recently we play in spurts and tonight we played in spurts," Marshall said. "We had a couple of bad spurts to start the game, just mistakes where we don't have carryover from things in practice to the game."

Marshall said rebounding continues to be a challenge for the Spartans.

"Rebounding has been an issue, probably our No. 1 defensive issue," he said. "We've stopped the initial shot a significant number of times, but teams have just consistently hammered us on the glass."

Madison plays at Edgewood on Friday, while Conneaut plays at Lakeside on Friday