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Boys basketball: Madison clinches No. 1 seed with win over Hillcrest

Madison players react as Madison High School takes on Hillcrest High School on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. Madison defeated Hillcrest 63-53 and became the No.1 seed in this year’s  5A District 5-6 tournament. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

By LUKE O’ROARK | Post Register
Loroark@postregister.com

REXBURG — With about a minute to go, first-year Madison coach Travis Schwab called across the court to Madison’s well established student section, the Madison Maniacs.

“Come on!” Schwab animated to the student section, swinging his arms up and causing the Maniacs to cheer and erupt in a stereotypical, “I believe we’re going to win” chant.

Schwab and Madison has plenty to cheer about after beating Hillcrest 63-53 Wednesday night in Rexburg. Behind Mason McWhorter’s 17 points and six rebounds, the Bobcats are now the No. 1 seed in this year’s 5A District 5-6 tournament.

Madison’s Jordan Porter presses down court as Madison High School takes on Hillcrest High School on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. Madison defeated Hillcrest 63-53 and became the No.1 seed in this year’s 5A District 5-6 tournament. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

McWhorter’s noteworthy performance came off the bench, as the Bobcats outscored the Knights 15-5 in the third quarter to split this year’s regular season series between the Knights.

“Last time we played them, I didn’t really do much and they weren’t expecting much from me, so I came out with a spark,” McWhorter said. “And proved them I’m not a mediocre player.”

Down 31-30 at halftime, Madison buckled down defensively — preventing Hillcrest from driving the ball into the paint and kicking out to perimeter shooters, McWhorter and Schwab said — to shut down Hillcrest after an intense, back-and-forth first half.

Madison’s depth, improved weak side help and forced turnovers in the second half halted the athletic, 3-point shooting Knights. The Knights shot just 39 percent from the field, as Madison recorded seven steals (four of which came from guard Jordan Porter). McWhorter scored eight of his 17 in during the second half.

“For us, and I’ve told you this before, we’re all about defense,” Schwab said. “And defense gets us going. And after the first half, when we gave up 31 points, I challenged them at half and said, ‘Hey, our goal is 50 points for these guys’ … Honestly, they just got after it defensively.”

After a difficult third quarter for Hillcrest, the Knights got as close as seven after a Parker Stevens 3-pointer from the right wing made it 53-46 with 2:21 left in regulation.

But Hillcrest never got closer, as Madison finished the game out at the free throw line (Madison was 17-for-26). Stevens led all Knights with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Jaxon Weatherly added 13 points including a late 3-pointer with about 15 seconds to play.

The loss places Hillcrest as the No. 2 seed in this year’s 5A tournament.

After the loss and a struggling second half, Hillcrest coach Dave Austin called on his team to refocus for their future games. Hillcrest (16-4, 6-2 5A) finishes out its regular season Friday at Twin Falls.

Hillcrest’s Trey Johnson moves passed Madison’s Bohlder Murray as Madison High School takes on Hillcrest High School on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. Madison defeated Hillcrest 63-53 and became the No.1 seed in this year’s 5A District 5-6 tournament. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

“You gotta give them credit. They brought a lot of energy tonight,” Austin said. “Not our finest game. We got lost defensively, quite a bit, and missed a lot of easy shots … You hate to come up here and lose and everything, but just like we told the kids, we’ll take care of business when it really counts.”

During the first half Wednesday, Hillcrest’ athleticism and motion offense worked. Five of its nine 3-pointers happened in the first half alone. The Knights led 14-13 after the first.

But Madison adjusted and, behind McWhorter’s spark off the bench, remain the creme of the crop in local 5A.

Madison (16-3, 7-1 5A) will play Friday at Blackfoot.

“Dude, how about Mason McWhorter,” Schwab said enthusiastically. “Mason is like our energizer bunny and every time he comes into the game, the energy just shoots up. And he works his tail off.”

MADISON 63, HILLCREST 53

Hillcrest 14 17 5 17 — 53

Madison 13 17 15 18 — 63

HILLCREST (53) — Parker Stevens 15, Jaxon Weatherly 13, Parker Boyle 10, Derek Marlowe 4, Trey Johnson 7, Kyle Austin 4. FG: 17. FT: 11-17. 3-pointers: 8 (Stevens 3, Boyle 2, Marlowe 1, Johnson 1, Weatherly 1). Total fouls: 23. Fouled out: none.

MADISON (63) — Mason McWhorter 17, Jaden Schwab 4, Brigham Williams 10, Cameron Webster 9, Jordan Porter 5, Joe Dougherty 7, Bohlder Murray 1, Kyle Jackson 2, Spencer Hathaway 8. FG: 21. FT: 17-26. 3-pointers: 4 (McWhorter 2, Porter 1, Webster 1). Total fouls: 16. Fouled out: none.

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