Bulldogs claim region title with 69-52 win over Quarriers
By LARRY LEEDS, Sports Editor
SIOUX FALLS -- The third time was the charm for the Madison Bulldogs on Tuesday at the Elmen Center.
Madison's Trae Vandeberg shoots over Zach White during the Region 3A finals at the Elmen Center in Sioux Falls on Tuesday night.
For the third straight year, the Bulldogs faced Dell Rapids for the Region 3A title and the Bulldogs downed the Quarriers 69-52 to claim the region title and punch their ticket to the State A Tournament.
"This was a dream of mine since watching Brady at the State Tournament," said Madison senior Tyler Wiebe, whose older brothers Brady and Derek are former MHS basketball players.
"What a great feeling it is to get back to the state tournament," said Madison Coach Mike Ricke. "I couldn't be more proud of this group of guys and all the hard work they put in to getting themselves to this point. I think they showed they are a pretty special group."
After Dell Rapids hit a three-pointer to begin the game, the Bulldogs used three-pointers by Mason Sullivan and Trae VandeBerg to grab a 6-3 lead -- a lead that the Bulldogs would never relinquish.
"It is important to make a three-pointer to get the momentum and confidence built up," said VandeBerg.
Madison built a six-point advantage, 11-5, when Jacob Giles drained the Bulldogs' third three-pointer of the quarter.
The Bulldogs doubled the lead to 21-15 by the end of the quarter.
Madison's defense rose to the occasion in the second period as the Bulldogs allowed the Quarriers just seven points and built a 34-22 halftime advantage.
The Bulldogs held a double-digit lead throughout most of the third period. Late in the quarter, Dell Rapids pulled to within seven, 46-39.
A basket by VandeBerg and a steal and basket by Braxton Olson at the buzzer gave the Bulldogs a 50-39 lead heading into the fourth period.
"This sequence was the difference in the game to me," said Ricke. "They had gotten the lead down to seven and were going to hold the ball for the last shot of the quarter. Jesse Brown poked the ball loose and threw it ahead to Trae for a lay-up. Braxton then proceeds to steal the ball and hits another shot at the buzzer. Those were great plays by Jesse, Trae and Braxton, and that was a huge momentum boost for us heading into the final quarter."
Dell Rapids could get no closer than 11 points in the final period as the Bulldogs sealed the win at the charity stripe. In the last two minutes of the game, Madison made 10 of 13 free throws.
"It really seemed that we had an answer for every one of their runs," Ricke said. "Every time we needed a bucket, we got one, and it came from a different guy each time. That balance is what's gotten us to this point and it's what won the game."
Madison made 18 of 44 field goals overall (41 percent). From three-point range, the Bulldogs drained 5-of-14 (36 percent). Madison made 18 of 22 free throws (82 percent).
The Bulldogs held the advantage on the boards 26-25.
VandeBerg finished the game with 19 points. Sullivan added 15 counters while Brown and Giles each chipped in with 10 points. Brown snared eight rebounds while Wiebe and Rush Milne collected five rebounds apiece.
"I thought that Rush played an exceptional game off the bench. He was solid all night on the defensive end and had two huge three-point plays in the second half that really gave us a boost," Ricke said.
Cole Langer had 18 points and nine rebounds to pace the Quarriers. Bryce Koch added 13 points and seven blocks.
"We are there, and we are halfway to our dream," Wiebe said. "Our goal is to win it all."
"Getting to the state tournament was one of the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season," Ricke said. "Now that we've accomplished that, we can focus on our biggest goal of winning a Class A state championship."
"I have never felt anything like this before," Olson said. "We have been working for this since third grade."
Madison (21-2) is the third seed and will face Pine Ridge in the last game next Thursday.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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