Madison County got its first road win of the season Tuesday, downing an athletic Elbert County squad 55-51 in Elberton.
“Any time you can win in the Inferno, that’s big,” said Madison County head coach Steve Crouse, whose squad improved to 2-3. “It was a huge night for us.”
Crouse knew it wouldn’t be easy. Elbert County has the ability to push the ball up the court and pressure opposing ball handlers, while forcing an up-tempo game.
The pace did get frenetic at times, with both teams struggling with turnovers. Madison County turned the ball over 21 times, compared to 24 for Elbert County.
Elbert County carried a 30-25 lead into the locker room at the half, aided by 14 offensive boards in the half.
“They were able to penetrate in the first half and we tightened up our zone, because they didn’t shoot that well in the first half,” said Crouse, whose team did a better job keeping Elbert off the offensive boards in the second half.
Tuesday’s win stopped a three-game skid for the Red Raiders.
Madison County opened its season with a win over Oglethorpe County, then dropped three straight to Blessed Trinity 53-15 Nov. 21, Douglas 49-35 Nov. 22 and Gainesville 80-55 Nov. 23.
“We didn’t play well against Blessed Trinity; it was just a bad night,” said Crouse. “We rebounded the next night and played pretty well against Douglas, a big and athletic team. Then we went and played Gainesville. And they were really solid. And we just didn’t value the basketball. We had 22 turnovers in the game. And we just can’t turn the ball over like that and expect to have an opportunity to win.”
The coach noted that Terrell McCrary, who leads the team with 7.5 boards a game, had a big night in the paint for Madison County against Douglas, grabbing 11 rebounds.
Crouse entered Tuesday’s game displeased with how his squad practiced this past week after the losses.
“We didn’t practice well,” said the coach. “We didn’t have focus and discipline. And so to come in and have the guys respond and play well (against Elbert) was good, but we’ve got some things we need to work on and fix.”
Madison County was led Tuesday by Trey Carruth —who entered the night with a team-best 11.8 points per game — and T.J. Skelton. Both had 17 points apiece. Trae Burton had 12, while Malik Freeman had five and Andrew Lindsay chipped in four.
The Red Raiders now turn their attention to Cedar Shoals, who will visit Danielsville at 3 p.m. Saturday. The varsity girls will hit the court at 1:30 p.m. The JV girls will play at 10:30 a.m. and the JV boys will play at noon. Game times were moved up so that fans could watch Madison County basketball as well as the SEC football championship game at 4 p.m. between Georgia and top-ranked LSU.
Crouse said the Cedar Shoals team might not have quite the post presence that Elbert has, but he said they’ll be a challenge.
“Cedar Shoals will be athletic, just like Elbert County,” said Crouse.