Madison girls barely hold off Bethel for sectional victory

Madison guard Ally King shoots over Bethel center Becky Schwieterman during their Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Ally King shoots over Bethel center Becky Schwieterman during their Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

What looked like an easy victory for Madison High School’s girls basketball team turned into a tense struggle for postseason survival.

The Mohawks triumphed in their Division III sectional opener Saturday, but had to withstand a furious Tipp City Bethel rally to win 52-46 at Franklin Monroe.

“That was very interesting,” said Madison freshman guard Kenzi Saunders, who tied her career high with 23 points. “We kind of thought we had it and got big-headed. We got nervous, but I had faith in our team. I thought we would push through it.”

Lily Campbell had 10 points and eight rebounds for the fifth-seeded Mohawks (13-9), and Kelli Bush added nine points and 11 boards.

Madison led 17-2 after one quarter and still held a 49-36 edge in the final two minutes, but the Mohawks committed 10 of their 21 turnovers in the last period and managed to sink just 9 of 23 free throws.

The 12th-seeded Bees (9-14) chopped the margin to 49-45 with 35.2 seconds left, but could get no closer.

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Madison guard Kenzi Saunders charges to the hoop past Bethel guard Emily Crase during Saturday’s Division III sectional contest at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Madison guard Kenzi Saunders charges to the hoop past Bethel guard Emily Crase during Saturday’s Division III sectional contest at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Kenzi Saunders charges to the hoop past Bethel guard Emily Crase during Saturday’s Division III sectional contest at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

“I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been off for a week and a half, but we just could not handle the pressure at the end of the game,” Madison coach Brian McGuire said. “When you get in close games like that, every small thing matters. Those are things we should know by now because we’ve been in a lot of tight games this year.

“Fortunately for us, we were able to survive and advance. There’s going to be a lot of teams that go home and wish they were in our position, so we’ll take the win.”

The Mohawks will return to Franklin Monroe for a 6 p.m. sectional semifinal Wednesday. They’ll face 13th-seeded Dixie (5-17), a two-time loser to Madison during Southwestern Buckeye League play.

McGuire admitted his team caught a huge break down the stretch when it was a 49-45 contest Saturday. The Mohawks misfired on two foul shots with 30.3 seconds left, and the second shot missed the rim and hit the backboard.

Instead of a dead-ball call and the Bees gaining possession, the officials allowed play to continue. That led to a Bethel foul and more free throws for Madison, and Bees coach Corey Steinke was hit with a technical with 17.2 on the clock.

The Mohawks were just 2 of 4 from the line in the immediate aftermath, but Bethel was essentially done.

“I apologized to my girls right away, but they told me it wasn’t my fault. I appreciate them for that,” Steinke said. “The technical should’ve never happened, but you can’t come into a game like that and take it away from the girls, and I felt like something was taken away from us … with respect.

“We played our hearts out. I’m very proud of the girls. They never backed down. If that game’s about a minute longer, I really think we would’ve come out victorious.”

Madison was hampered by the absence of junior guard Lillie Runnells, who didn’t play because of illness. But McGuire said that’s no excuse for his team’s late-game swoon.

“It does give you a helpless feeling when you call a timeout and design a play and it doesn’t get run right,” McGuire said. “But I give Bethel credit. They did a good job of giving themselves a chance to win. I told our girls yesterday that they shouldn’t look at this team’s record. They’re big and play hard and do not quit, and they have nothing to lose. That makes them dangerous. Maybe we’ll learn from a game like this. That’s about all you can do.”

Alaina Hawthorne’s 10 points paced Bethel, which committed 26 turnovers and converted 13 of 30 free throws, and she added six rebounds. Becky Schwieterman (nine points, seven boards), Kayla Grable (eight points, five rebounds), Delaney Hardert (four points, eight boards) and Klaudia Lowery (nine rebounds) were among the Bees’ leaders.

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Madison forward Lauren Dietz eyes the basket as Bethel center Becky Schwieterman defends Saturday during a Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Madison forward Lauren Dietz eyes the basket as Bethel center Becky Schwieterman defends Saturday during a Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison forward Lauren Dietz eyes the basket as Bethel center Becky Schwieterman defends Saturday during a Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Steinke started the season as Bethel’s junior varsity coach, but he was elevated to the head position when Mark Mays stepped down for health reasons. Mays is still helping from time to time and was on the bench Saturday.

“It’s his second time being back on the bench,” said Steinke, who directed the team for the last nine games. “He will not come back as head coach next year, but hopefully he’ll come back as a varsity assistant. He’s a mentor to me.

“We’re losing seven seniors, but we’ve got some strong players who are very young. I think we’re going to do some very good things next year.”

Bethel 2-11-14-19—46

Madison 17-10-11-14—52

TIPP CITY BETHEL (9-14): Kayla Grable 3 1 8, Alaina Hawthorne 3 4 10, Delaney Hardert 2 0 4, Sarah Swisher 1 4 6, Morgan Crase 1 1 3, Becky Schwieterman 4 1 9, Grace Anthony 2 0 4, Makenna Floyd 0 2 2. Totals: 16-13-46

MADISON (13-9): Jackie Kovscek 2 0 5, Ally Hoskins 0 1 1, Lily Campbell 4 0 10, Kenzi Saunders 7 5 23, Lauren Dietz 2 0 4, Kelli Bush 3 3 9. Totals: 18-9-52

3-pointers: B 1 (Grable), M 7 (Saunders 4, Campbell 2, Kovscek)

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Madison guard Jackie Kovscek is covered by Bethel center Alaina Hawthorne on Saturday during a Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Madison guard Jackie Kovscek is covered by Bethel center Alaina Hawthorne on Saturday during a Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Jackie Kovscek is covered by Bethel center Alaina Hawthorne on Saturday during a Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Lily Campbell shoots while being double-teamed by Bethel’s Becky Schwieterman and Delaney Hardert (14) during their Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Madison guard Lily Campbell shoots while being double-teamed by Bethel’s Becky Schwieterman and Delaney Hardert (14) during their Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Lily Campbell shoots while being double-teamed by Bethel’s Becky Schwieterman and Delaney Hardert (14) during their Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison forward Kelli Bush is covered by Bethel’s Alaina Hawthorne (10) and Becky Schwieterman during their Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Madison forward Kelli Bush is covered by Bethel’s Alaina Hawthorne (10) and Becky Schwieterman during their Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison forward Kelli Bush is covered by Bethel’s Alaina Hawthorne (10) and Becky Schwieterman during their Division III sectional game at Franklin Monroe on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison forward Lauren Dietz shoots against Bethel center Becky Schwieterman during their Division III sectional game Saturday at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Madison forward Lauren Dietz shoots against Bethel center Becky Schwieterman during their Division III sectional game Saturday at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison forward Lauren Dietz shoots against Bethel center Becky Schwieterman during their Division III sectional game Saturday at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Ally Hoskins is pursued by Bethel center Alaina Hawthorne on Saturday during Division III sectional play at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Madison guard Ally Hoskins is pursued by Bethel center Alaina Hawthorne on Saturday during Division III sectional play at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Ally Hoskins is pursued by Bethel center Alaina Hawthorne on Saturday during Division III sectional play at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Jackie Kovscek grabs a loose ball in front of Bethel guard Kayla Grable on Saturday during Division III sectional play at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Madison guard Jackie Kovscek grabs a loose ball in front of Bethel guard Kayla Grable on Saturday during Division III sectional play at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Jackie Kovscek grabs a loose ball in front of Bethel guard Kayla Grable on Saturday during Division III sectional play at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Lily Campbell prepares to go up for a basket Saturday during a Division III sectional game against Bethel at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Madison guard Lily Campbell prepares to go up for a basket Saturday during a Division III sectional game against Bethel at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Madison guard Lily Campbell prepares to go up for a basket Saturday during a Division III sectional game against Bethel at Franklin Monroe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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