The Raiders’ Tuesday loss to Cedar Shoals very much looked like a repeat of last week’s devastating loss to Clarke Central.
Or, as coach Steve Crouse put it, “a repeat of every game that’s close.”
The frustration is mounting for Madison County (7-14, 1-6) with seven straight losses in the books after falling to the Jaguars 54-51.
Three of the last four have been handed down in final-second fashion.
“It’s a very frustrating experience because our kids worked so hard,” Crouse said.
Madison County must move on to face subregion leader Winder-Barrow Friday at home and Apalachee on the road Tuesday. The team closes the regular season Feb. 6 at Clarke Central.
After missing out on another upset, Crouse must again rally his troops for the final stretch of the regular season.
“It’s hard to find the right words to express to them that you have to keep working hard to get yourself back into this situation and eventually you’ll pull one out,” Crouse said. “But the challenge is that they’re high school kids and they’re tired of hearing that.”
Patrick McCrary, who scored 15 points, hit a pair of free throws to give Madison County a short-lived 51-50 lead over Cedar Shoals with 24 seconds left.
But the Jaguars’ Jeffrey Burton drilled a three with 17 seconds left to dash another Madison County upset bid.
Madison County, which led 27-25 at the half, had a chance to tie the game, but turned the ball over and then fouled with five seconds left.
The Raiders, again, put forth a gusty effort, rallying from nine points down with five and a half minutes left in the game to give themselves a chance to win.
But instead of a galvanizing victory, Madison County endured its fifth loss this year by six or less points, three of which have come in subregion play.
Crouse again had to balance pride regarding the effort with frustration over the final score.
“Our kids did not quit,” Crouse said. “They played hard. They really played hard. I’m proud of them for that. But I’m frustrated that we didn’t take care of business.”
Weekend in review
Raiders struggle against struggling Habersham
Desperately needing its second subregion win, Madison County instead endured more headaches.
The Raiders’ losing streak grew to six Friday as they fell 73-60 to struggling Habersham Central, a team with a 4-13 overall record.
Madison County had beaten Habersham Central by 13 points earlier this year, but the Mt. Airy school returned the favor, outscoring the Red Raiders 28-17 in the fourth quarter to split the season series.
Bradley Raines led Madison County with 23 points, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Raiders’ skid.
The Raiders’ top offensive player, Patrick McCrary, plagued by foul trouble, finished with a quiet 11 points. T.J. McGuire came off the bench and scored 10 points.
Madison County led 7-2 early after Raines threw down a first quarter dunk.
But the highlights ended there.
Habersham Central embarked on a 10-2 run to end the quarter.
Madison County trailed by eight at the half, but narrowed the gap to just two points, 45-43, at the end of three quarters.
However, as with the rest of the evening, Habersham Central answered every Red Raider spurt, building a double-digit lead late in the game.