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“I think we’re ready,” said junior Grant Whisman, who put up 19 points and 11 rebounds against Carlisle. “If we don’t let them speed us up and don’t take bad shots, we’ll do all right. It’ll be packed. It’ll be fun.”
Mohawks coach Jeff Smith said beating Harvest Prep will be a tall order for his crew.
“We’re playing with house money in that game because there aren’t a lot of people in the state of Ohio giving us a chance,” Smith said. “But we’re grateful for this opportunity. We’re going to go up there and see if we can play one really great game. It’s not a seven-game series. We only play once.”
Madison will take an 11-game winning streak to Fairmont after a roller-coaster performance against Carlisle (4-8, 2-6), which was missing four players for disciplinary reasons.
The Mohawks drilled five 3-pointers in the first five minutes and sprinted to a 19-3 lead, then watched the Indians mark the next 10 points to get back in contention.
Madison never trailed, yet needed a game-ending 13-2 spurt to secure the victory.
Carlisle lost to the Mohawks 71-45 on Dec. 14 when Madison’s Levi McMonigle and Whisman were both sidelined by injuries.
“They battled us really tough tonight,” Smith said. “We told the kids right before we took the floor that a wounded animal is a dangerous thing. We had a chance when we jumped out 19-3 to end it early, and we didn’t. To their credit, they fought back. We had some lulls where we weren’t very good.”
Jake Munafo tallied 10 points and five rebounds for the Mohawks, McMonigle had nine points and nine boards, and Mason Whiteman added nine points and six caroms.
Nolan Burney’s 13 points and eight rebounds paced the Indians. Joe Gay chipped in eight points.
“With all the adversity that we have faced this week, I was proud of the guys for coming together and playing really, really hard,” Carlisle coach Don Ridinger said. “We have to keep getting better, we have to keep working hard, and we have to keep teaching. They need to learn lessons about basketball and living in the real world.”
Madison only converted one trey over the last three stanzas. The Mohawks fed the post with success down the stretch — big men McMonigle, Whisman and Munafo combined for all 15 of their fourth-quarter points.
“Once they got back within 10, our point guards Tristan (Sipple) and Mason kind of settled us down, got us back into the offense and got us shots,” Whisman said. “We knew it was going to be a tougher game here because they always play better in their gym, but I wasn’t really worried. I know the kids we’ve got and I know the kids they’ve got, and in the end, our group is older and more experienced. I figured we’d come out with the win.”
Said Smith, “Hitting all those 3s early, sometimes that’s good and bad. It was good, but then we started missing them, and sometimes we forget we’ve got size in there.”
Matt Gomia had seven points and six rebounds for Madison. Teammate Ryan Duritsch saw limited action after missing the last four games with an ankle injury.
“It’s kind of getting back to normal because people are getting healthy,” Whisman said. “If we stay healthy and play like we know how to play, we’re going to be a hard team to beat.”
“I like this team,” Smith said. “We’re pretty well-rounded, and scoring can come from different places. I wish we were a little bit better defensively. We’ve taken a couple steps back defensively.”
The Mohawks are in control of the Buckeye race, especially after Northridge (8-6, 4-3) hammered second-place Waynesville (10-4, 5-2) by a 73-45 margin Friday. Madison will resume league play at home against Milton-Union next Friday.
“Give Jeff and his team credit. They’re really good,” Ridinger said. “They’re big, strong, great rebounders, and they’ve got finishers.”
Carlisle hosts Franklin on Tuesday.
MADISON (13-1, 8-0 SWBL Buckeye): Matt Gomia 3 0 7; Tristan Sipple 1 0 2; Mason Whiteman 3 0 9; Grant Whisman 8 1 19; Levi McMonigle 4 1 9; Jake Munafo 4 2 10; Ryan Duritsch 0 2 2. Totals: 23-6-58
CARLISLE (4-8, 2-6 SWBL Buckeye): Joe Gay 3 2 8; Dane Flatter 2 0 4; Logan Gross 2 0 4; Cash Ridinger 2 0 6; Nolan Burney 5 0 13; Zach Jewell 1 0 2; Micah Gross 1 0 2. Totals: 16-2-39
3-pointers: M 6 (Whiteman 3, Whisman 2, Gomia), C 5 (Burney 3, Ridinger 2)