Top-ranked Madison East holds off La Follette 66-64 to remain unbeaten
Madison East junior wing Keonte Jones is well-regarded for his defensive skills and shot-blocking ability.
But the 6-foot-3 Jones said he loves to be a determining factor on offense when the game is on the line.
Jones made a 3-pointer from the right wing with 14 seconds left for the go-ahead basket, and the host Madison East boys basketball team held off rival Madison La Follette 66-64 before a packed house Friday night. It was East’s only successful 3-pointer.
“We were running our play — a double screen up top,” Jones said. “Then I was the pop man. I came around the corner and stepped back for the 3. I was wide open. I had to take the shot. And make big plays. … I was wide open and Anthony Washington put the ball in my hands and I took the shot. A lot of trust. I love (being in) that position.”
The game was in doubt until La Follette junior guard Ben Probst’s 3-pointer from the left wing hit the front of the rim and missed just before time expired.
“I thought it was in,” Purgolders coach Matt Miota said. “He’s a solid shooter. Sometimes, you get a break.”
Washington, a junior wing, had a game-high 19 points for the Purgolders (12-0 overall, 8-0 Big Eight Conference), ranked No. 1 in Division 1 in the WisSports.net coaches’ poll.
Purgolders sophomore forward Jevan Boyton had 16 points and senior guard Damontae Thompson 15 as East maintained its grip on the Big Eight lead, one game ahead of seventh-ranked Madison Memorial.
Jones had nine points — his 3-pointer giving East a 65-63 lead. The Purgolders ran a weave out front and the first option was to get 6-4 forward Marcus Justice the ball down low.
“Give East credit. Jones hit a big shot,” La Follette coach Curtrel Robinson said. “That 3 was major. He stepped back from the paint to the 3-point line and made a 3 with a lot of confidence. What can you do? They made one more shot than we did.”
Probst and senior guard Donneil Gray led La Follette (7-3, 6-2) with 13 points apiece, while senior guard Troy Reeves had 12 points.
After Jones made his 3, Probst was fouled while shooting. The 6-1 Probst converted the second of two free throws, cutting the Lancers’ deficit to 65-64 with 7.2 seconds remaining. Purgolders junior Jadyn Walsvick made the second of two free throws with 6.4 seconds left, boosting East’s lead to 66-64.
Reeves raced down the left side of the court toward the corner and passed to a trailing Probst, whose 3-pointer just missed. The East student section then flooded the floor, joining the celebration.
“It was electric,” Miota said. “This is what high school basketball should look like. … It was a playoff environment.”
Free throw shooting played a huge part in the outcome. The Purgolders made 19 of 25 from the line, while the Lancers were 9-for-19. East, which led 33-32 at halftime, was 11-for-15 and La Follette 6-for-14 from the foul line in the first half.
Robinson said a team can game plan as much as it wants, but “the one thing you can’t control is the ball going in. I think us shooting 9-for-19 on free throws and we missed lots of bunnies early on, that right there really had us struggling offensively. Even if we go 12-for-19, it’s a different ballgame.”
Foul trouble caused the Purgolders to switch from their regular man-to-man defense to a 1-3-1 to start the second half.
“Man, we were scraping the whole second half,” Miota said. “We never seemed to have a lead until the last shot Keonte hit. … I give La Follette credit. They really played tough.”
East had to rally from a 57-52 deficit with 4 minutes, 30 seconds left.
“If you get concerned, you lose your momentum and you get behind by more,” Jones said. “You have to keep fighting. That’s what we did as a team. That’s why we are No. 1 in the state.”
Madison La Follette 32 32 — 64
Madison East 33 33 — 66
MADISON LA FOLLETTE — Do. Gray 5 1-3 13, Da. Gray 3 1-2 8, Smith 1 0-0 2, Probst 6 1-4 13, Reeves 3 5-6 12, Stewart 4 0-0 8, De. Gray 1 0-0 2, Kunkel 2 1-4 6. Totals 25 9-19 64.
MADISON EAST — Jones 3 2-2 9, Walsvick 1 3-4 5, Washington 8 3-5 19, Thompson 5 5-7 15, Boyton 5 6-8 16, Justice 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 19-25 66.
3-point goals — MLF 5 (Do. Gray 2, Da. Gray 1, Reeves 1, Kunkel 1), ME 1 (Jones). Total fouls — MLF 25, ME 18. Fouled out — McKinley (ME).