Madison edges Freeburg, 57-54 @ NIT
Trojans advance to consolation bracket title game on Saturday

NASHVILLE - The Madison Trojans are not the same team as has been visioned in past years by fans in Southern Illinois.

While defense used to be just something to do when they didn't have the ball in previous editions of Madison hoops, it is now the main point of emphasis for coach Anthony Smith's club in 2005-06.

Despite shooting just 24-of-63 from the field on Thursday night against Freeburg in the consolation semifinals at the Nashville Invitational, Madison made enough plays on the defensive end to pick up a 57-54 win.

Advancing to the consolation championship game to be played on Saturday, the Trojans got above .500 for the season at 10-9 by making things happen on the defensive end of the court.

"Our goal each night is to hold the other team under 50-points and even though we didn't do that tonight, I am pretty happy with the way things turned out," said Smith. "I have always said that we are going to win with our defense and tonight we came out and decided that we were going to play man-to-man and take our chances. We play a match up zone but everyone has seen us play that so we decided to come up with a different look."

Freeburg wasn't much better from the field (18-of-48 overall) and could never take advantage of the Madison offensive problems.

"I wasn't real happy how we played the second half," said Freeburg coach Norm Toenjes. "I don't feel like we really got into our offense and their (Madison) pressure bothered us. We did make a comeback there at the end and got to the foul line and that was a positive. But we let them back in by giving them some easy looks off of our zone late in the game. It is never all positive and it is never all negative but we didn't do the type of things tonight to get us a win."

Marcus Lewis, Madison's 6-foot-1 junior starter, has had his share of growing pains this season for Coach Smith's club.

But this one came up big in the game against Freeburg with 21-points to lead all scorers.

"He (Lewis) really needed this game because he has really struggled this season," said Smith about the junior guard who showed signs of turning the corner offensively. "Chatt (Cornelius) in the first half, Lewis in the second half tonight for us got the win."

Chatt chipped in 15-points for Madison, most in the first half, and came up with a big steal in the fourth quarter to stop a potential Freeburg rally.

Chatt was one of the few bright spots for the Trojans in the first 16 minutes of the game as they failed miserably from the field.

Connecting on just 7-of-35 first half attempts, including 2-of-16 shot early, Madison watched Freeburg lead 28-20 at the break.

However the lead could have been much bigger for the Midgets but coach Toenjes team didn't capitalize on its opportunity.

Opening the second quarter on a 11-2 run, Freeburg reached its largest lead of the game at 25-14 with 2:18 before the half on a rebound basket by Tyler Howes.

The Trojans kept the game close with Chatt connecting on a 3-pointer while 6-foot-6 senior Brandon Romey got a couple of scores in the paint.

Madison quickly got back into the game in the third quarter, fashioning its comeback around five Freeburg miscues in the frame.

Two Romey rebound baskets, a pair of Lewis scores and drive to the basket by Chatt cut the lead down to 32-31 at the 5:04 mark.

Freeburg's 6-foot-5 sophomore David Ruckman connected on a couple of transitional shots against the Madison press to keep the Midgets in front temporarily.

In fact Freeburg scored four baskets off of fast break opportunities in the third quarter.

Nevertheless, the Trojans got back the lead before the third stop on three consecutive baskets in the final 1:15.

Lamont Gregory and Tony Treadway each scored their only buckets of the night in the run and when Lewis connected on a midrange shot from the left elbow, the Trojans led 42-40 heading into the final quarter.

In a stark contrast from the opening half, the shots fell (8-of-13) for Madison in the third quarter.

Freeburg appeared to be back in business as the fourth quarter opened.
Michael Adamson, who topped the Midgets with 17-points on the night, converted two fast break chances in the first 1:05.

His second bucket turned into a conventional three-point play while being fouled by Sam London.

The Midgets got their final lead of the evening on a 8-2 run which included six straight made free throws by Adamson and a Howes score in the lane to make it 54-53 with 1:36 to play.

But Lewis came up big in the fourth quarter with three key baskets.

His final bucket of the contest was on a drive in the lane with :21 left.

That Lewis basket gave the Trojans a 55-54 lead and came on the heels of yet another missed opportunity by Freeburg.

The Midgets could have made it much tougher on Madison, but Derek Blaha failed to convert a pair of free throws after being fouled by Gregory with :48.3 remaining.

Chatt came up with the defensive gem of the night making a steal from Adamson with :08.3 to go.

Treadway, who was fouled by Adamson after the turnover, converted a pair of free throws to expand the lead to 57-54.

A 3-pointer by Howes from the right wing as time expired was off the mark.
"In these close games, we need to make more positive plays at the end and tonight we didn't do that," added Toenjes. "We guarded them well in the first half but we knew that they (Madison) weren't going to continue to shoot that poorly. We scored 28-points in the first half but I didn't think we executed our offense like we needed to. We had chances down the stretch but we didn't do the things we needed to do to win."

The Trojans got a combined 32-points from Lewis and Chatt while London came up with seven important points.

Freeburg (6-11) had three players in double-digits in scoring with Adamson (17), Howes (15) and Ruckman (13) leading the offense.

Madison held a 31-24 rebounding edge while committing just nine turnovers.

"We just have to take better care of the basketball and tonight we did that," added Smith. "The other night against Mascoutah we didn't do that and committed 25-turnovers, tonight we were under 10 (9). Tonight in the second half, when we turned them (Freeburg) over we converted their mistakes into points. I know this was a good win for our kids and right now it is all about us building toward the postseason. If you look at our nine losses, you can see that we were turning the ball over a lot. When we take care of the ball we have a chance to win and we are a tough team to beat."

The Trojans will take on Breese Central in the consolation final Saturday afternoon.

The Cougars took care of Waterloo Gibault 56-45 in the other semifinal game Thursday night.


Madison (57) - Lewis 9 0 3-5 21, Chatt 3 3 0-0 15, London 3 0 1-2 7, Romey 3 0 0-0 6, Treadway 1 0 2-2 4, Gregory 1 0 0-2 2, Wallace 1 0 0-0 2. 2FG - 21, 3FG - 3, FT- 6-11, PF-20.
Freeburg (54) - Adamson 3 0 11-11 17, Howes 6 0 3-3 15, Ruckman 6 0 1-2 13, Polson 0 1 0-0 3, Stuhlsatz 0 1 0-0 3, Moddrell 1 0 0-1 2, Blaha 0 0 1-5 1. 2FG-16, 3FG-2, FT-16-23, PF-14.
Fouled Out - Romey, Madison.
Technical Fouls - None.