Taking it one step at a time, the Madison-Plains boys basketball team is starting to see on-the-court progress.
The Golden Eagles rallied from a double-digit deficit to knock off Horizon Science Academy 70-61 in a game played Tuesday at Plains.
Madison-Plains High School (MPHS) trailed 28-12 in the first quarter and could have easily packed it up and quit. But coach Joe B. Stewart’s young bunch showed plenty of heart and desire infighting back to earn the victory. The win was the team’s second straight and fourth of the season (4-8, 3-8 in Ohio Heritage Conference South Division).
The Eagles got back in the game by handling the Horizon Science full-court pressure and solving its zone defense. They outscored the opposition 19-2 in the second quarter and took a 31-30 halftime lead on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by sophomore Matt Johnson. The shot was set up by an assist by senior Jacob Toops.
“The unselfishness and execution by our guys in the second quarter was exceptional,” Stewart said. “Getting through their press then into halfcourt sets and finding good shots with extra passes was just a terrific job by our team.
“Scoring at the buzzer really sent us in with momentum and followed that with more sound play out of the locker room in the third quarter.”
Senior guard Jeffrey Wittman really got things going offensively in the third quarter as he scored 10 of his career-high 33 points.
The Eagles lead ballooned to 62-48 in the fourth quarter but the visiting Hawks, fueled by their defense, went on a 10-0 run to close to within four points (62-58) with just two minutes to play. MPHS however made its free throws down the stretch and secured the win.
For the game Plains shot 57 percent from the floor and 72 percent from the line.
“Our high percentage can be traced directly to the unselfishness. Jeffrey Wittman obviously had an exceptional night, but maybe not as obvious but important was great floor games by our perimeter players. Jacob Toops, Matt Johnson and Jarrett Vallery who did a great job against the press.”
In addition to Wittman’s 33, Anthony Holbrook scored 12 and Toops added 11. Ian Richards led Plains in rebounds with 10, Holbrook and Toops had six apiece.
The Eagles return to action Friday, Feb. 2 when they travel to play at Cedarville, starting at 7:30 p.m. MPHS won the earlier season match-up between the two 75-67.
Worthington Christian 60,
West Jefferson 48
The Roughriders (11-6) came up short in a non-conference game with the visiting Warriors Tuesday night.
Joe Thompson led West Jeff in scoring with 12 points. Ben Casey scored 11, while Jared Vermillion (nine) and Lance Lambert (seven) had solid scoring nights.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.