One Madison County player offered an interesting point in the locker room as the Raiders (1-1) savored a 20-point win over Duluth Saturday night.
“I said, ‘Guys, we need to act like we’ve been here before,’” coach Steve Crouse said. “And one of them spoke up and he said, ‘Well, coach, I don’t know if we’ve ever beaten a Class AAAAA team before.’”
Now they have, in resounding fashion.
Led by three scorers in double figures — Bradley Raines (15 points), Patrick McCrary (14) and Seth Fleming (13) — Madison County hammered Class AAAAA Duluth, 70-50, at home to open the annual Northeast Georgia Invitational.
Madison County led 34-32 at halftime before blowing the game open in the second half.
The Raiders outscored Duluth 24-9 in the fourth quarter as all players, save for one freshman, got into the game.
“They players were hungry,” Crouse said. “They stayed hungry all week long,” Crouse said.
The victory followed a season-opening loss Brookwood to Nov. 15 where free throws weighed heavily.
But Madison County acquitted itself at the charity stripe Saturday, draining 21-of-28 attempts.
“We more than doubled our trips to the line and we took advantage of it,” Crouse said.
Though the Raiders shot 40 percent overall from the floor, they hit 20-of-39 shots from two-point range, led by McCrary who hit 6-of-10 shots.
Madison County, which led 46-41 heading into the final period, also stepped up its defensive performance from its first game.
Crouse said a scouting report revealed that Duluth possessed good perimeter players, so the Raiders knew going-in which players they’d have to defend well.
“We had an advantage … Coach (Ben) Baker went and saw them play and kind of gave us kind of a good scouting report on who their shooters were,” Crouse said.
Madison County held Duluth’s leading scorer to just nine points and improved in a variety of defensive areas.
“We won the rebounding war and we did some really good things, defensively, boxing out, contesting the shots, cutting off penetration,” Crouse said.
The coach also credited preparation for the win.
Madison County started the week with a good practice on Monday, Crouse said, and built on that as the week progressed.
“It continued to get better Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday … Our focus was there,” Crouse said. “Thursday was a particularly good practice.”
And Crouse didn’t let his players leave that victorious locker room Saturday night without a reminder about practice.
“I said, ‘enjoy it,’ but remember, come Monday, we go to work again,” he said.
Madison Co. 70, Duluth 50
DHS 16 16 9 9 — 50
MCHS 16 18 12 24 — 70
Scorers: Raines 15, McCrary 14, Fleming 13, Smith 7, McGuire 5, Griffeth 4, Davis 4, Morris 3, Thomas 3, Butler 2