MADISON TOWNSHIP – It’s not the preferred way to win games, but for one night at least, Madison boys basketball coach Tim Mergel was OK with it.
The Madison Rams knocked down 10 3-pointers and pulled away in the second half to beat Ashland 58-42 Friday night in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.
“We’ve done a good job of identifying what a good shot is,” Mergel said. “Billy Buckley had some good looks. It’s not the way I like to live and die. I’d like to get some more kids involved inside, but Ashland did a good job of slowing down our dribble penetration and the kickouts were open tonight. Obviously, we took advantage of those opportunities.”
Madison finished with just nine 2-pointers as it settled for an outside-in approach. Ashland may have slowed down some of that penetration by the Rams, but the Arrows didn’t stop it. Patience was a virtue as Madison worked the ball and probed the lane before taking the long jumpers that were open looks.
“Madison did a great job of moving the ball and getting good looks. We seemed to run out of gas, especially at the defensive end,” Arrows coach Jason Hess said. “We were a step slow on our rotations. We gave up a lot of in-rhythm 3’s to some pretty good shooters and they knocked them down and made us pay.”
The chief recipient of those in-rhythm 3-pointers was Madison’s 6-3 senior Billy Buckley. Back from a two-game suspension, he hit four from beyond the arc and finished with 16 points. Tyrell Ajian and Dion Miller made a pair each, while Jacob Koehler and Austin Hallabrin both made one.
“He really hurt us tonight shooting the ball,” Hess said of Buckley. “(With) the stability he brings to them rebounding and handling the ball a little bit as a secondary ball handlers, they’re going to be a good team.”
At the other end, Ashland (0-2, 0-1) couldn’t take advantage of its size advantage. The Arrows were beaten 28-17 on the boards and made 15 of 35 shots. Mergel felt Buckley was a big reason that was the case, calling him the best defender he’s coached.
“His positioning and instincts to get in the right position before the ball is passed are second to none,” Mergel said. “We kept him on (6-5 Logan) Brewer. He pulls the toughest matchup every night with an inside game.”
Besides Buckley, also playing his first game of the season was Koehler, a 6-5 junior who forces opposing big men to guard him on the perimeter which helps open up lanes. Mergel didn’t think the return of those two changed how the Rams (2-1, 2-0) play, but it changed their mindset and relaxed their teammates.
Ashland 15 6 12 9 – 42
Madison 13 13 1`4 18 – 58
Ashland: John Wolfe 4 6 14, Zach Stoops 4 0 8, Griffin Gerwig 5 3 13, Nich Bernhard 0 1 1, Logan Brewer 2 1 6. Totals: 15-35 11-19 42. 3-pointers: 1 (Brewer). Rebounds: 17 (Wolfe 3). Turnovers: 9.
Madison: Billy Buckley 5 2 16, Tyrell Ajian 4 8 18, Nick Smith 3 0 6, Austin Hallabring 1 0 3, Dion Miller 2 0 6, Cal Rickert 1 0 2, Kyle Jackson 1 0 2, Jacob Koehler 2 0 5. Totals: 19-40 10-10 58. 3-pointers 10 (Buckley 4, Ajian 2, Miller 2, Hallabrin, Koehler). Rebounds: 28 (Koehler 9). Turnovers: 12.