Madison vs. Berkshire boys basketball: Blue Streaks' second-half surge stifles Badgers, 70-58

Feb. 13—Madison was behind the 8-ball early as Berkshire ran out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter of a cross CVC contest Feb. 13. But the Blue Streaks responded with a run of their own in the second to get back into the contest.

They carried that momentum into the third with another run to the lead. Madison took the win, 70-58, and won its third of its last four.

The Blue Streaks improved to 13-6, while the Badgers fell to 9-10.

Berkshire came out of the gate strong and took a 9-2 lead midway through the first. Madison had some good looks early but couldn't get the ball to bounce its way and trailed seven to end the first.

The second quarter had a better Blue Streak performance, which included a 10-0 run that got the deficit within two, but Berkshire kept the halftime advantage with a Luke Stute 3 at the buzzer. Coach Nick Gustin had some choice words for his players at the half.

"It was terrible, and I give all the credit to Berkshire," Gustin said. "They were ready to play and we weren't. We were able to crawl our way back and get to the line more in the second quarter. But they took us out of what we normally do defensively. We couldn't trap, we couldn't press, you have to give a lot of credit to Joe (Montanaro) and his team. They did a good job in that first half to have us on our heels."

The Blue Streaks' halftime break was fruitful, as they came out on a 16-6 run fueled by three 3-pointers from Seth Negin in the frame. JP Dragas also put up 20 of his game-high 28 points in the second half.

Berkshire's press prevented Madison from playing at the speed it wanted, too, and Dragas knew they needed to be able to break it.

Once the Blue Streaks did that, then they could focus on their own defensive sets.

"We just weren't defending well," Dragas said. "We were able to knock down shots and got some good looks, but we were rushing. It wasn't our type of basketball, and we were selfish in the first half. We came out focused on defense, got some run out buckets and the steals and quick outlets fueled our offense to get our offense moving."

Dragas was joined in double figures by Noah Crites, who had 11 points off the bench. Madison had several other players hit big shots when it mattered.

Negin had his 3s, while players such as Bryant Perkins and Noah Barnes worked the paint.

Dragas knows while teams tend to zero in on him in contests, there are plenty of other options for the Blue Streaks.

"They're all capable," Dragas said. "If we play our brand of basketball, all the guys can make shots. It really shows when we're playing at our best, we can push the ball and get guys on their heels, the floor is open for three. It comes down to the work on defense and turning it to offense to get those looks."

Another focal point for the Blue Streaks was to improve on the boards in the second half, after being outrebounded in the first. A cavalcade of Blue Streaks went to work on the glass.

Perkins led the way with nine rebounds with Barnes adding six and Mac Steele adding five. Gustin has seen the team take their work on the boards to another level at times but need to fin it as consistently as they did against the Badgers.

"He's been one of our best rebounders all year even though he's 5-foot-6," Gustin said. "He knows how to use his body and create space. The last few games, he's been around that mark. Noah is always there, too, but you then add in guys like Noah, Mac, JP gets in there, too, we've made an emphasis of that the past few weeks because that has been a challenge for us all year but tonight we had some of the best we've had all season."

Berkshire was led by Jack Hastings with 20 points and Cameron Beam who had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The Badgers step out of conference when they host Lakeview on Feb. 16. Madison continues its cross CVC play with a trip to Kirtland on the same date.


Madison 70, Berkshire 58