Madill knows all about being resilient.
That’s been this season in a nutshell for the Wildcats, who started a mediocre 7-6 but have reeled off 11 wins in their last 13 games.
Fall behind in the LCC standings? No problem. In its final two games of the regular season, Madill (19-8) knocked Sulphur off its unbeaten perch in conference, then topped Plainview for the LCC title.
Suffer a shock loss to Purcell in district? So what? Facing elimination in regional play, the Wildcats went 3-0 to win the Class 4A regional consolation championship.
Adversity strikes again on Thursday when the Wildcats play Ada in the area tournament.
“I play a lot of kids, and trying to find the right combination, how to play them, takes time,” Madill coach Aaron George said of the Wildcats’ start to the season. “We didn’t play very good in district. We couldn’t make a shot in that game, but since then, we’ve gotten three pretty good games.”
At no time this season did Madill show more fight than in the regional playoffs. After Purcell beat the Wildcats by two points in district, George’s team could have easily slipped and sulked to a one-and-done scenario in regional play.
Instead, Madill beat Pauls Valley and Tuttle to set up a do-or-die rematch against Purcell.
George said Madill learned from its 54-52 loss to the Dragons in district play. The Wildcats rebounded with a 46-30 blowout the second time around.
“We didn’t fulfill what we wanted to do in district; but that might have done more for us to lose there than later on,” George said.
“We dug ourselves a hole and we’re gonna keep trying to dig out of it.”
In addition to learning from mistakes, the Wildcats have received flat-out better play in the last week. Senior guard Ke’ven Davis (12 points) led the way in for Madill in the consolation championship against Purcell, and the Wildcats defense held the Dragons to just 12 second-half points.
Samuel Bond, Shadow Marris and Ivan Flores each had six points or more, highlighting the balance Madill brought to the game in which they locked up an area spot.
“We were mentally more there and played together more as a team,” George said of regionals. “Against Pauls Valley, we shot good. Then the last two games we played soild defense, and played together on offense.
“We’re playing together and that’s harder to defend than when you just have one player.”
The regional tournament was survive and advance, with a little bit of redemption at the end. In order to continue their charge, the Wildcats have to cook up some more payback against Ada.
Page 2 of 2 - Ada defeated Madill 61-46 in December, the teams’ only meeting this season.
“They have a lot of size, a couple of good shooters,” George said. “We’re gonna have to contest shots, control the boards, block out and play together on offense like we have been.
“You get this far, everyone can play now. You just have to be better than them that night.”
Erik K. Horne