Feb. 28—LYNDHURST — The Madison and Brush boys basketball teams didn't play each other in the regular season. But Blue Streaks head coach Nick Gustin's team still knew what to expect.
That prior knowledge, however, didn't stop the Arcs from beating Madison 74-41 on Saturday night in a Division I sectional final.
The Arcs (15-6) usually have long and athletics kids, and the 2020-21 roster was no different. Brush used their size and quickness early to get offensive rebounds and second chances to help get their offense going in the first quarter. The Arcs won the rebounding battle 49-20, including 26 offensive rebounds.
"Our big men ... we had a lot of faith in them that we could shut 'em down," Madison guard and forward Noah Tweedy said. "But [for the most part], the whole team had to help out down there and get rebounds."
The Blue Streaks (6-8) did what they could to try to keep pace with the Arcs. But they didn't have the firepower to come back from a 41-24 deficit at halftime. The point differential grew in the third quarter after the Arcs outscored Madison 18-6.
Madison may be called the Blue Streaks, but it was Brush's transition offense that was flying up and down the court. With every rebound and turnover, the Arcs looked to push the ball and score quickly and with numbers.
"They're very good at scoring off your mistakes, and we made a few mistakes," Gustin said. "Before we knew it, it was 11 points then 15 points. We come at them a little bit and they go on a run."
Brush's Andrew Jones led all scorers with 23 points and he had six rebounds. Elmore James scored 17 points and grabbed a game-high nine boards while Elias Johnson scored 16 points and had eight rebounds.
John Peter Dragas led the Blue Streaks with 20 points and he grabbed three rebounds. Shane Gibson scored eight points with team highs in rebounds (fout) and assists (two). Tweedy added seven points, three rebounds and a pair of blocks.
The loss brought an end to a chaotic season of the Blue Streaks. They had a 40-day layoff due to COVID-19. It was one of a couple stoppages Madison had to deal with this season.
"It hurt a little bit," Gibson said. "[The senior class has] been playing basketball our whole lives together."
Eight of Madison's 15 players are seniors. According to Tweedy, the players knew there would be some questions heading into the season. After all, the 2020 postseason was shut down before it could finish and the fall sports faced questions themselves.
Tweedy said the team started to look at basketball differently after the first stoppage. And when it happened again, the players started to cherish every time they got a chance to step on the court.
"We were just thankful for every moment — on the floor, off the floor together," Tweedy said. "COVID did screw us over, but we just had to cherish everything. And it was a lot of fun when we were out there."
Gustin called the 2020-21 year "the unfinished season" since no one will ever know how their years would have turned out with a normal schedule.
"I'm really proud of my seniors," Gustin said. "They took it day by day, practice by practice, game by game. They gave us everything they could each day."
Division I Sectional Final
Brush 74, Madison 41
MADISON: Shane Gibson 3 2-2 8, Noah Tweedy 3 0-0 7, Dimitri Dragas 1 0-0 2, Kyle Woleben 0 0-0 0, Jesse Martin 0 0-0 0, Landon Martin 0 0-0 0, John Peter Dragas 7 3-3 20, Eli Klimko 0 0-0 0, Michael O'Brien 2 0-0 4, Brandon Kosanovich 0 0-0 0, Sam Cost 0 0-0 0, Will Eaton 0 0-0 0. Totals 16-48 (33.3) 5-5 41.
BRUSH: Germainn Marshall 0 0-0 0, Andrew Jones 9 0-0 23, Andre Wheeler 1 0-0 2, Trace Bishko 3 0-0 6, Elmore James 7 3-4 17, Julius Woolfolk 4 0-0 8, Elias Johnson 7 1-1 16. Totals 31-75 (41.3) 6-7 74.
3-POINTERS — Madison 4 (J. Dragas 3, Gibson); Brush 11 (Taylor 6, Lawrence 2, Williams 2, Gonzalez). REBOUNDS — Madison 20 (Gibson 4); Brush 49 (James 9). ASSISTS — Madison 5 (Gibson 2); Brush 11 (Bishko 5).
Records: Madison 6-8; Brush 15-6.
Next Games: Madison season complete; Brush at Massillon Jackson, Wednesday, (7), Division I district semifinal.