Madison County made sure no late three-pointer would save Cedar Shoals this time.
After being beaten in the final seconds by the Jaguars last month, Madison County (8-17) throttled the Cedar Shoals 60-39 Tuesday in the play-in game of the 8-AAAA boys’ tournament at Apalachee.
“It all goes back to practice,” Raider coach Steve Crouse said. “We had a great practice Monday.”
Cedar Shoals downed Madison County 54-51 back on Jan. 27 with a three-pointer with 17 seconds left. But this time, the no. 5 seed Raiders outscored Cedar Shoals 34-15 in the second half to slam the door on a 10-game losing streak.
The Jaguars, seeded fourth, were coming off a 72-45 victory over Apalachee.
Bradley Raines scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the effort.
Patrick McCrary added 13 and collected 18 boards, and Reterrium Davis also reached double figures with 15 points.
The win pits Madison County against no. 1 seed Rockdale County (17-7) Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Winder-Barrow High School.
An upset victory propels Madison County to the state tournament for the first time since 1997.
The Raiders lost to the Bulldogs 86-77 earlier this year in Danielsville.
Rockdale County lost just one subregion game in the regular season and went 12-2 in region play.
“They’re no. 1 on their side of the subregion for a reason,” Crouse said.
But the Raiders carry a renewed sense of confidence after having won for the first time since Jan. 6.
Madison County executed its game plan efficiently Tuesday night, Crouse said, keeping the ball out of the hands of Jaguar star Casey Arnold and limiting Cedar Shoals’ three-point opportunities. Crouse also noted that his team was able to contest rebounds and contest shots.
It all added up to Madison County’s most impressive performance of the season.
“It was nice to finally put together 32 minutes of good basketball,” he said.
The Raiders led 26-24 at the half and took control of the contest in the third quarter, outscoring Cedar Shoals 17-9.
“When things are going well, the basket gets bigger,” Crouse said.
The Raiders outscored the Jaguars 17-6 in the final period.
Madison County, which committed just 10 turnovers, had 19 assists to Cedar Shoals’ five.
“I think that’s the key stat of the game right there,” Crouse said.
Not only did the victory snap a 10-game losing streak, it broke a long-standing drought against Cedar Shoals, one of Madison County’s closest geographic foes.
Crouse said no one can remember the Raiders’ last victory over the Jaguars.
“That’s huge for our program,” he said.
And huge for the team’s psyche. Madison County had lost four games in the past three weeks by three points or less.
But that collective grief had dissipated by the end of Tuesday night. “They were pretty happy,” Crouse said of his players. “And I was happy for them.”
Weekend in Review
Gladiators glide to easy win in rematch
ATHENS — Madison County headed into the region tournament on the heels of a 75-51 loss to Clarke Central Friday, the team’s 10th-straight setback.
Madison County trailed 38-24 at the half and 59-40 at the end of the third quarter after Clarke Central went on a 9-0 run.
Bradley Raines led the Raiders with 17 points and was joined in double figures by Patrick McCrary (14 points) and Reterrium Davis (11 points).
Madison County came out set on avenging its 62-61 loss to Clarke Central back on Jan. 20. Spurred by a pair of Davis three-pointers, Madison County led 13-9 late in the first quarter.
But Clarke Central was in command by halftime, ending the second quarter with a 16-3 run