MONROE — The message at halftime from Madison High School boys basketball coach Jeff Smith was simple.
Smith had watched his squad struggle in the first half against a rugged Monroe team Tuesday night, and he gave his team an ultimatum.
“I said, ‘First three minutes, boys. You can let them back in this game or you can bury them,’ ” Smith said. “I said, ‘Let’s put our foot on their throat and end this thing.’ And we did.”
TUESDAY NIGHT BASKETBALL COVERAGE
The current Southwestern Buckeye League juggernauts did indeed bury the Hornets in the third quarter, outscoring the hosts 27-9 in a 68-51 victory.
Madison boosted its record to 10-1 and, according to Smith, still hasn’t played its best basketball.
“We are getting healthier,” he said. “We have had injuries and played a lot of kids. It has made us deeper, and we are not afraid to play a lot of kids now.”
Levi McMonigle led all scorers with 16 points, and the 6-foot-7 senior pulled down 11 boards. Matt Gomia had 13 points and Grant Whisman chipped in 11 as the Mohawks put 10 guys in the scoring column.
Much to Monroe’s chagrin, the Mohawks hit their first four 3-pointers to grab a 16-10 lead after one quarter.
“Every year they do that to us,” Hornets coach Kenny Molz said. “Every year we look at them and think they are an average 3-point shooting team, and they come out and nail a bunch. “
Monroe (4-5) kept the game close at half, trailing 26-17, but a 16-2 run by Madison to open the third period doomed the hosts.
“They went on a run,” Molz said. “They hit shots, and we missed some shots that were good shots. They just didn’t fall.”
It was a physical game, and Molz was hit with a technical foul in the third quarter. He said the Mohawks’ strength inside was an issue all night.
“I got a little bit frustrated with the officiating,” Molz said. “We were being physical, they were being physical. Madison is senior heavy, and the biggest difference I saw was their physicality.”
Nick Alfrey had all of his team-high 13 points in the final quarter for Monroe, which saw a two-game win streak snapped. Bobby Borneman added 10 points for the Hornets.
“When my team plays hard, it is hard for me to not go in there and talk about the positives,” Molz said. “When you are winning, especially with young kids, we have to understand we have to work harder. You can’t be content. You have to keep working hard, and my team worked hard tonight.”
While Monroe keeps working on improvement, Smith said the Mohawks have their eyes on winning another SWBL Buckeye Division title and making some noise in the Division III tournament. The veteran coach said the opposition in the SWBL won’t make it easy, but he likes his balance of strong inside play with talented guard play.
“Our size is our strength, but we can also shoot it,” Smith said. “It makes us hard to guard. I know a lot of good coaches in this league will make it tough. We have talked about having a target on us. We were 19-3 a year ago. Everyone in this league wants a piece of us. But man, when we focus, we are good.”
Both teams will be on the road Friday, Madison at Preble Shawnee and Monroe at Oakwood.
MADISON (10-1): Matt Gomia 4 2 13; Jake Munafo 1 3 5; Tristan Sipple 2 2 7; Mason Whiteman 0 1 1; Grant Whisman 2 6 11; Turner Campbell 3 2 9; Jake Edwards 1 0 2; Jake Phelps 0 2 2; Jesse Allmon 0 2 2; Levi McMonigle 6 4 16. Totals: 19-24-68
MONROE (4-5): Will DeBord 0 2 2; Bobby Borneman 4 2 10; Nick Osterman 3 0 7; Colin Deaton 2 1 5;: Jack Taylor 0 2 2; Nick Alfrey 5 2 13: Adam Ploeger 3 2 10: Caimanne Turner 0 2 2. Totals: 17-13-51
3-pointers: MA 6 (Gomia 3, Sipple, Whisman, Campbell), MO 4 (Ploeger 2, Osterman, Alfrey)
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