Madison County might have scored plenty of points Monday night, but the Raider defense was the real catalyst in a 71-36 thumping of Stephens County in Hart County High School’s holiday tournament.
“We came out and played great defense and we challenged our guys after not playing defense Saturday night against Hart County,” head coach Steve Crouse said.
The victory snapped a five-game Raider losing skid and evened Madison County’s record at 6-6 on the year.
“We had a lot of intensity, a lot of energy on defense,” Crouse said of his team’s first win since Dec. 6.
The Raiders played their final game of the tournament Tuesday against Elbert County, but results weren’t available at press time due to early holiday deadlines.
Offensively, Patrick McCrary sparked the victory over Stephens County, leading Madison County with 16 points, eight rebounds, six blocks and four assists.
“Pat had a great game,” Crouse said.
However, he benefited from a Raider team that shared the ball well Monday night. The most impressive offensive statistic — 23 assists.
Crouse said his team set out to work the ball down low to McCrary.
“That’s what we wanted to try and do — set the tone with Pat on the inside and then just play great defense … and the result was the scoreboard.”
The victory was the reverse of a loss to Hart County two days earlier in which Madison County lacked energy and passion, Crouse said. The Raiders fell to the tournament hosts, 71-62, in their first game since Dec. 16.
“We got outworked,” Crouse said. “That’s what I told the guys and I can’t live with that.”
But the Raiders responded with suffocating defense Monday.
After taking a 34-23 halftime lead, Madison County allowed just 13 points in the second half as it the game turned into a rout.
Madison County still turned the ball over and surrendered too many offensive rebounds, Crouse said, but the Raider defense made the difference.
“Our defense was keeping them from getting open looks at the basketball and our defense was keeping them from getting easy shot opportunities,” Crouse said.
Meanwhile, the offense flourished.
Bradley Raines added 13 points and nine rebounds. Reterrium Davis finished 11 points and seven boards.
“We were very unselfish,” Crouse said. “We found the open guys at the right times for the right shots.”
Jeremy Smith also threw in nine points and six assists.
“He came off the bench and gave us a great game,” Crouse said.