Bulldogs claim fifth state title, beat Tea Area 54-49 for championship
By LARRY LEEDS, Sports Editor
RAPID CITY -- The Madison Bulldogs used a second-half comeback to gain the 2012-13 Class "A" State High School Boys' Basketball title on Saturday night at the Civic Center here. The Bulldogs downed Tea Area 54-49 to earn the championship.
This was the fifth state basketball title in school history and the third since 2009 for Madison.
The Bulldogs built an early 10-5 lead with 2:31 left in the opening period after Mason Sullivan hit for two. The Titans ended the first quarter on a 7-4 run and trailed 14-12 after one period.
The Titans outscored the Bulldogs 18-8 in the second period and held a 30-22 halftime lead.
"The kids had a lot of confidence at halftime," said Coach Mike Ricke. "They were not down or hanging their heads."
The only adjustment the Bulldogs were going to make was to put Jacob Giles on Connor Shaull, according to Ricke. Shaull had 12 first-half points for the Titans.
A basket by Sullivan and one by Trae VandeBerg started the second half and the Bulldogs trailed by just four, 30-26, with six minutes left in the period.
Tea scored its only points of the quarter with just under six minutes left when Riley Knutson hit for two.
Baskets by Tyler Wiebe and Jesse Brown pulled the Bulldogs to within two, 32-30, with 5:12 left in the quarter.
Sullivan put the Bulldogs on top 33-32 with 4:37 left when he drained a three-pointer. Madison would never relinquish the lead after that.
"I told Mason, `I need you to be there for us'," Ricke said.
Madison ended the third quarter with a 5-0 spurt and held a 38-32 lead heading into the last eight minutes.
"I tried to provide the leadership all season long, and we just needed to stay calm," Sullivan said.
The Bulldogs opened up an eight-point advantage in the fourth period on three occasions. The last came with 3:20 left in the game when Wiebe hit one of two free throws to put Madison up 47-39.
Tea pulled to within four late in the game, 53-49, when Gunnar Ensz successfully completed a three-point play with 32 seconds on the clock.
Twelve seconds later, Giles hit one free throw for the last point of the game and gave the Bulldogs the five-point, 54-49 win.
"This is a very special championship with my son (Jacob) on the team, and I have known all of the players since they were little kids," Ricke said.
Madison made 18 of 48 field goals, 37 percent, and connected on 15 of 27 free throws, 55 percent. Tea made 19 of 50 field goals, 38 percent, and made 7-of-14 free throws, 50 percent.
Madison outrebounded the Titans 36-35.
Sullivan scored 11 points and had four steals to pace the Bulldogs. Wiebe and Giles each added 10 counters for the winners.
Rounding out the scoring for the Bulldogs were VandeBerg with nine, Brown with six, Preston Nordling five, Rush Milne two and Braxton Olson one.
Brown hauled down a team-high nine rebounds while Wiebe had six rebounds. Giles had three steals.
Shaull had 12 points for the Titans while Knutson added 11 points and seven rebounds.
"Everyone accepted their roles. That made us a stronger team," Ricke said.
Madison finished the season with a 24-2 overall record.
Different opponent, same recipe. Swarming, in-your-face defense and deadly shooting paved the way for the Bulldogs to derail the Mobridge-Pollock Tigers 66-30 in the semifinals of the State A Tournament on Friday night.
"It all starts on the defensive end for us," said Ricke. "We make good teams look worse than they are because of our defense."
Madison jumped out to a 19-3 lead after one period and never looked back.
"The kids played with confidence. We told them that we were a better team, and they played that way," Ricke said.
While the Bulldogs were shooting 41 percent from the field in the first half, the Tigers shot just 22 percent as Madison contested every shot by the Tigers. Madison raced to a 35-16 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs outscored Mobridge-Pollock 31-14 in the second half.
For the second straight game, every Madison player saw action. And, like the opening game, the bench did a terrific job once again.
"Our bench played great," Ricke said.
Madison finished the game hitting 25 of 61 field goals, 41 percent, and 10 of 12 free throws, 70 percent. Mobridge-Pollock made 11 of 47 field shots, 23 percent, and cashed in on 4-of-8 free throws, 50 percent.
The Bulldogs held a huge advantage on the boards 50-26.
VandeBerg tossed in 15 points to lead the winners. Wiebe and Giles each scored 11 points. Wiebe added nine rebounds and four assists.
Nordling and Olson each came off the bench to score six points while Brown and Milne added five counters apiece. Rounding out the scoring for Madison was Eli Roemen with three points and Sullivan and Tayler Anderson each had two points. Brown snared a game-high 10 rebounds.
Jason Hill scored eight points for the Tigers. Pearson Wientjes grabbed six rebounds.