OLPE — For the first eight minutes of play, it appeared that Waverly and its lengthy lineup would have its way with Madison.
Junior Rawlin Hively had 10 of his 16 points in the first quarter. Chaska Lacey and Jonathan lee were creating all kinds of problems and Madison had but one field goal to its credit.
Through the second quarter, however, Madison pushed its way back to a one-possession deficit and as the game progressed, it overcame a double-digit third quarter deficit to win, 57-56, advancing to the 1A Regional Championship Game.
“Work hard and get back in the game,” Madison sophomore Kelton Buettner said of the halftime gameplan. “We just had to work as a team and we did it. We put it all together and we came out on top.
“It was a struggle though.”
In spite of closing the gap to one late in the second, Waverly again spread its offensive wins in the third, boosting its lead as high as 11.
Yet Madison persisted. With 4:34 to play, it still faced a 52-42 deficit.
Then things began to shift.
A 3-pointer from Ryan Wolgram cut into the lead, before a turnover and another layup made it a five-point game.
Madison gained four more points on one swing with 2:50 to play as a three-point play was also joined with an extra free throw due to a technical foul that also saw Hively foul out of the contest.
After the dust had settled, it was a one-point game.
“I told them at the break between the third and fourth quarter we’re going to go to full-court man (defense), we’ve got to get the tempo of the game in our favor,” Dannels said. “I think we did that. We got them sped up, they made some mistakes and made some unforced turnovers. That was kind of the difference.”
The two teams exchanged the lead on consecutive trips down the court as the clock ticked below the two-minute mark, but Waverly held a 56-53 lead when Madison used a timeout with 1:16 left to play.
Both teams missed shots, but when Chase Harrison came away with the defensive rebound and less than 20 seconds on the clock, Dannels used another timeout.
“We were just trying to get the ball in and get an easy layup, that’s all it was,” Buettner said. “(The play) didn’t work, but we got it in somehow, still.”
It was Buettner, who went above a scrum under the basket, for the bank shot that put his team on top with 10 seconds to go. Waverly used a timeout, but the continued defensive posture of Madison saw its opponent turn the ball over in the final second to all but end the game.”
Buettner had a game-high 17 points, four coming in the final 1:30 of play to give his team the victory.
“He had a really slow start, some things just going against him,” Dannels said of Buettner. “I pulled him out real quick (and) we had a talk on the sideline about (keeping) your composure. (I told him to take care of) and control what’s in front of you. I thought when he got back on the court, he did a great job of hustling and getting rebounds. Late in the game, he started putting some buckets in.”
Madison now advances to a Saturday rematch with Olpe in the regional title bout.
“That’s the one thing I can be very positive about with this group of kids is their determination, their grit, their heart... these kids never quit,” Dannels said. “They haven’t all year long and tonight, we finally got that close one.”
MHS 3 23 12 19 — 57
WHS 15 15 17 9 — 56
Madison: Buettner 17, Wolgram 16, Dr. Stutesman 11, Harrison 10, Engle 3.
Waverly: Hively 16, Foster 13, Lee 10, Pyle 10, C. Lacey 5, Patterson 2.