BY MIKE RILEY
You are coming off an impressive 20-plus-point road win. Your opponent is ranked 10th in Class 3A and is coming off an upset over the No. 1 ranked team in 3A, also on the road.
So we have all the makings for a classic Indiana high school match up Friday, which is how it turned out as Silver Creek turned back Madison 61-54.
Silver Creek (8-4) led for most of the way, but never by more than the final margin. The Dragons were up 53-46 following two Christian Reed free throws with 2:19 left.
Madison (8-3) got back in the game quickly as Kyle Tucker hit 2-of-2 at the free-throw line. Madison’s Nick Macon then buried a 3-pointer following a Silver Creek turnover and the Cubs were right back in it trailing just 53-51. They had a chance to cut it closer, but with 1:20 left Landon Perry missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Free throws were a big part of the Dragons’ arsenal on Friday as they converted 24-of-31 for the game, including 14-of-16 in the fourth quarter.
Another obvious stat for the victorious Dragons was rebounding. Silver Creek won the boards by a 41-24 advantage, led by Reed with 13 rebounds to go along with a game-high 17 points.
“We’re starting to expect that from him every night out,” said Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman. “During the last month, he’s been an animal. And the guys did a good job getting him the ball tonight.”
And as it would be obvious by the free-throw attempts, the Dragons had the Cubs in serious foul trouble from the get-go. Both Carson Wattenbarger and Alex Weaver had three fouls at the half for Madison. Shortly into the third quarter, Wattenbarger picked up his fourth, while teammate Tyler Manaugh picked up his third.
“We’re a grind-it-out team that hangs our hat on defensive rebounding,” Hoffman said. “Sometimes when the offense isn’t going, that helps us maintain things.
“Our main focus on defense tonight were their two guards — Macon and Perry. They’re both unbelievable players. We wanted them to make the other three guys beat us.”
Nick Tinsley added 11 points for Silver Creek, while teammate Zach Davidson had 10.
Perry finished with 16 points. Macon added 14 and Tucker had 13 for the Cubs, who were fresh off an upset win on the road at Greensburg, then ranked No. 1 in Class 3A.
Hoffman, meanwhile, looks back to a game three weeks ago as a turning point for his team.
“We really played a bad game against Borden [on Jan. 11],” he said. “I’m proud of the way the kids have reacted and dedicated themselves to not playing that style.”
Silver Creek will start a crucial stretch in its Mid-Southern Conference schedule next Friday when it visits Salem (2-9, 0-3 MSC). The game against the Lions will begin a sequence of five consecutive road conference contests.
“We play five straight conference road games,” Hoffman said. “But we’re looking at it as an opportunity rather than a challenge.”
SILVER CREEK 61, MADISON 54
Madison 15 17 5 17—54
Silver Creek 19 14 8 20—61
Madison (8-3): Kyle Tucker 13, Landon Perry 16, Nick Macon 14, Carson Wattenbarger 5, Tyler Manaugh 4, Willie Huffman 2, Alex Weaver 0, Tanner Sauley 0.
Silver Creek (8-4): Nick Tinsley 11, Shae Durham 2, Zach Davidson 10, Gabe Bauer 8, Christian Reed 17, Brooks Howell 3, Jake Steele 8, Sam Garr 2.
3-point field goals: Madison 5 (Perry 3, Macon 2); Silver Creek 3 (Tinsley, Howell, Bauer)
Rebounds: Madison 24 (Perry 6); Silver Creek 41 (Reed 13).
Turnovers: Madison 8, Silver Creek 17.
Free throws: Madison 11-17, Silver Creek 24-31.
Fouled out: Madison — Wattenbarger; Silver Creek — Steele.
JV: Madison 46; Silver Creek 31.