Madison East stymies Madison Memorial in boys basketball
The Madison East boys basketball team takes pride in its pressure man-to-man defense.
But the Purgolders were wounded by what they considered a subpar defensive effort during their first loss of the season last Friday against Madison West.
Madison East entered Thursday night’s Big Eight Conference game against Madison Memorial focused on one point: improved defensive play.
The conference-leading Purgolders used tenacious defense and a late surge to grind out a 56-50 victory, outscoring the host Spartans 32-26 in the second half.
“This one was very important — to show the Big Eight who were really are and how we can bounce back not just from an `L’ but from an upset,” Purgolders junior wing Keonte Jones said. “So, it’s real big.”
East bounced back after giving up 53 points in the second half and suffering a 96-80 loss against hot-shooting Madison West.
“We let West do what they wanted — wide-open shots,” Jones said. “We were lazy. We thought we would come out and blow them out. We realized after that that we have to bring it every game, on defense especially. The 14 games in, it was the defense. … Defense was our key.”
Said East senior guard Damontae Thompson: “That’s what we preached all practice was defense because the way we came out against West was lackadaisical. We knew we had to come out with a chip on our shoulder. And just bring that intensity on `D.’ ”
Sophomore forward Jevan Boyton led the Purgolders (15-1, 11-1 Big Eight Conference), third in Division 1 in The Associated Press rankings, with 16 points. Junior wing Anthony Washington scored 12 points, Thompson had 10 and Jones had nine for East, which remained one game ahead of second-place and ninth-ranked Madison La Follette.
Senior forward Nick Caropreso had a game-high 21 points and senior guard Cade Ellingson scored 12 points for 10th-ranked Memorial (9-4, 8-4), which dropped three games behind East. The Spartans lost their third consecutive game during a difficult stretch of their schedule.
Boyton and junior guard David McKinley made consecutive 3-pointers during a 6-0 second-half run, boosting the Purgolders’ lead to 36-28.
“We anticipated that matchup 2-3 (zone),” East coach Matt Miota said. “We said guys are going to have to shoot it with confidence. We talked about that at halftime, as well: `If you get an open shot, you have to knock it down.’ ”
But Caropreso rallied the Spartans, dominating the backboards and scoring all nine points during a 9-0 run that turned a seven-point deficit into a 41-39 lead with 5 minutes, 34 seconds remaining.
“I was thinking that things were going well at that point,” said Memorial coach Steve Collins, who thought his team dictated the pace of play. “Nick played very well. We didn’t shoot the ball very well today. When you don’t shoot the ball everything else gets multiplied. That had a lot to do with East and how they defended us.”
East then responded with nine unanswered points, taking a 48-41 lead with 2:37 remaining.
“It’s a game of runs and whoever has the longest or the last one will be on top at the end,” Collins said.
Jones started the comeback, scoring on a drive; Jones assisted on a basket by Boyton; Boyton made a 3-point shot from the right corner; and Jones threw down an emphatic dunk off an assist from Washington, following a Purgolders’ steal.
“The intensity rose up on our side and we just kept fighting,” the 6-foot-3 Jones said. “We just kept the energy up. The energy came on defense. That’s how it should be. That’s how it always will be.”
The Purgolders defeated the Spartans for the second time this season and made last week’s loss to West a memory.
“We put it in the rear-view mirror and focused on `What’s next?’ ” Miota said.
Madison East 24 32—56
Madison Memorial 24 26—50
MADISON EAST — Jones 4 0-0 9, Walsvick 0 0-0 0, Washington 5 2-4 12, McKinley 1 0-0 3, Thompson 4 2-2 10, McIntosh 0 0-0 0, Boyton 6 2-2 16, Justice 2 2-3 6. Totals 22 8-11 56.
MADISON MEMORIAL — Lewis 0 1-2 1, Bates 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 2-2 2, Ellingson 4 2-4 12, Younk 1 0-0 2, Jackson 1 0-0 2, Caropreso 8 4-5 21, Schaefer 2 0-0 4, Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Yu 2 2-2 6, Collins 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 11-15 50.
3-point goals — ME 4 (Boyton 2, Jones 1, McKinley 1); MM 3 (Ellingson 2, Caropreso 1). Total fouls — ME 14; MM 11.