FAIRMOUNT — Josh Hendrixson used less than five of the 10 minutes at halftime to address the Madison-Grant boys basketball team Tuesday night, but the Argylls took their coach’s message to heart.
Trailing Northwestern, 35-12 at intermission, Hendrixson implored the Argylls to do a little soul searching.
“I told them there’s not anything that I can draw on this whiteboard that’s going to change anything,” he shared. “Everything we do schematically is good enough to get us wins. We’ve just got to look inside and see what kind of heart we have.”
Turns out the Argylls are full of grit, toughness and heart.
A bit of an attitude adjustment, more physicality on defense and a more efficient and aggressive offense helped Madison-Grant overcome a 26-point deficit early in the third quarter and earn an improbable, stunning, 48-44 win over the visitors from Howard County.
“When you get into a game like that you try to focus on what you can do to maybe dig out of it a little bit and maybe give yourself a chance in the end,” Hendrixson said, admitting he didn’t realize his team was in a 26-point hole.
“You’re playing one possession at a time and that’s the only way you can play a game like that. There’s no 26-point shot you can draw up. It’s just got to be grind it out, one possession at a time.”
And M-G started its grind immediately after Cayden Greer’s 3-pointer 15 seconds into the third quarter put Northwestern up 38-12.
Madison-Grant started to match the Tigers, who had a distinct size advantage at nearly every position, with aggression and physicality.
And little-by-little, the Argylls started to chip away.
“I kind of challenged them as men and challenged their manhood,” Hendrixson said of his halftime discussion. “I told them I felt like we were getting bullied out there. We were getting bullied out there. We were just standing there taking punches, not literally, but we were taking punches and not punching back.
“We weren’t doing the things that we talk about and we focus on on a daily basis,” he continued. “Physicality, jumping the ball, bumping cutters, not letting the other team have freedom of movement on offense.”
Nearly four minutes passed before the Tigers scored another point after the opening three, yet they still led 39-20 with 3:57 to play in the third quarter.
However, Northwestern’s trouble scoring had only just started. M-G held the Tigers without a point for the next nine-plus minutes.
Madison-Grant cut it’s deficit to 39-28 by the end of the third and trailed just 40-38 when Quentin Yeakel made 1-of-2 free throws with 2:50 to play to end Northwestern’s scoreless drought.
By then all the momentum was wearing old gold and black.
Jase Howell knocked down the Argylls’ second 3-pointer of the game seconds later and suddenly M-G led 41-40.
Koen Berry ended Northwestern’s nearly 14-minute stretch without a field goal with an inside bucket to put his team back on top by one with exactly two minutes to play.
The Argylls got a pair of free throws from Teagan Yeagy with 49 seconds left to go up 43-42, before Yeakel knocked down two free throws with 18 seconds left to put the Tigers back on top.
After an M-G timeout with 14 seconds left, Howell drove towards the lane and drew a pair of Tiger defenders. He flipped a pass to Gavin Kelich in the left corner, who made his only field goal and points in the contest a game-winning 3-pointer.
The Argylls forced Northwestern’s 13th turnover of the half, 19th of the game, on the ensuing inbounds pass and Howell secured the four-point win with a pair of free throws.
Howell finished with 13 points to lead M-G. Clayton Hull added 12 points and six rebounds while Yeagy scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
Antonio Blackwell scored four points and grabbed two boards and Andrew Richards had one point and five rebounds. Most importantly, the two senior forwards were tone setters for the Argylls in the second half.
“They were two guys that could match (Northwestern’s) physicality. Two guys that could make sure we weren’t getting bullied,” Hendrixson said of Blackwell and Richards. “They’re not guys who are dirty players, but they’re tough players.
“They’re not they type of guys that are going to get bullied or back down. I’m not saying my other guys did, but I think we needed those guys out there to set the tone for us. Then the other guys kind of followed.”
Madison-Grant had eight turnovers in the game, six were in the first half and the Argylls didn’t have a miscue over the final 12 minutes.
Berry scored 14 of his 17 points and Greer nine of his 12 in the first half for Northwestern.
“That’s a testament to those kids and they way they really rose to the occasion,” Hendrixson said of the Argylls. “They took to heart what I said at halftime and they came out and performed. I couldn’t be more proud of that group than I am.”
Madison-Grant (1-0) hosts Wabash Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Former Argyll star and Indiana All-Star, Kyle Runyan, along with all the 1,000-point scorers in M-G history will be recognized at halftime.
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