ALLEN — Madison's Kelton Buettner played a huge part down the home stretch in Friday's game against Northern Heights.
The Bulldog sophomore made 3-of-4 free throws in the final five seconds to give Madison a 62-57 victory after it trailed by five at halftime.
"That was just key to winning the game," Buettner said. "Free throws is what it is when it comes down to it. It was very big that we finished like we did. Just coming out stronger in the third quarter and I think since they had their Homecoming deal, they were in the moment and we were ready to go. That big push helped us pull away."
NHHS got out to a 5-1 advantage in the first 90 seconds, however, it saw Madison cut the deficit to 11-9 heading into the second quarter. A Chase Harrison basket knotted things up at 11, but the Wildcats scored the next six point to lead 17-11. Madison stormed back to tie things at 22 and took a brief 24-22 lead before a Madison foul and a technical was issued. Cameron Heiman went 3-for-4 at the free-throw line and drove to the basket for a layup, giving the Wildcats a 29-24 halftime advantage.
Madison head coach Brett Dannels told the Bulldogs at halftime that they were putting too much pressure on themselves heading into the locker room.
"I said, 'Everyone has to take a deep breath, relax (and) come out in the second half, run our offense, be effective and just figure it out,'" he said. "I didn't get excited. I kept calm and that helped the team keep calm."
The Bulldogs answered every response the Wildcats had at the beginning of the third quarter and made their run late in the period that saw them knot things up at 37 and a basket by Nasun Wasson gave Madison a 39-37 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Drew Stutesman extended the Madison lead to four early in the fourth, but NHHS charged back, knotting things up at 45. After that, the two teams exchanged the lead seven times in the final five minutes of play, with the Bulldogs prevailing with a 7-0 run in the final minute of the contest.
"That shows a lot of growth in my team," Dannels said. "Being young guys, I thought they did a great job of coming down the floor and keeping their composure, running the offense like we've have and putting the ball in the hole. It was a gritty win and I appreciate the kids of what they've done."
NHHS head coach Jacob Lang said the Wildcats didn't make the plays when it counted the most.
"We let the situation speed us up a little bit too much in that last minute," he said. "We're learning. We're young. We're going to figure it out and make it happen. We've got to make the easy shots when they're made available. We've got to value every possession."
Buettner led the Bulldogs with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Harrison added 16.
"Kelton ... his job on the boards tonight was phenomenal," Dannels said. "He had a lot of nice rebounds and some putbacks. I thought (tonight) was the smartest and the best the kid's played since I've had him."
Heiman led all scorers with a game-high 37 points.
"It's tough to defend a guy like that," Dannels said. "We put some of our best guys on him and kudos to him for having a great game."
Madison (8-8) hosts Eureka on Tuesday.
"If we play with the confidence we have right now, then we'll have a chance to win," Dannels said.
NHHS (8-8) travels to Rural Vista on Thursday for a make-up game from Jan. 22.
"They're going to be tough to beat, " Lang said. "Having three days is going to be nice. We can go light and easy on Monday and get after it on Tuesday and Wednesday before (the game) on Thursday."
Northern Heights girls 66, Madison 35
Friday night was a big night for Northern Heights senior Destiny Dody.
Dody was named the Queen of Courts and led the Wildcats with 21 points in a 66-35 rout over Madison.
"It's so special," she said. "We played really good tonight. We moved the ball really well. We had really good defense. We made the extra pass and that's what we needed to do to win."
NHHS jumped out to a 17-0 advantage, never looking back from there, pushing its lead to 27-7 at the end of the first quarter.
"It was a big deal for us," Dody said. "They're a team that can keep pushing back."
The Wildcats led 43-15 at halftime, but saw the Bulldogs made a small dent in the hole in the third with a 15-12 quarter, however, they still trailed 55-30 heading into the fourth.
"I was really proud of the way our girls got out and defended," NHHS head coach Lanny Massey said. "I was also proud of the way we played offensively. We found our tempo and got the ball moving around."
NHHS pushed its lead to 30 midway through the fourth quarter, triggering a running clock the remainder of the game.
The Wildcats continued to have a balanced scoring attack. Behind Dody's game-high 21, Khylee Massey added 14.
"We're starting to find our identity with putting the ball into the basket and that's important for us down the stretch," Coach Massey said.
Madison had two players in double-figures led by Emily Farrow's 16 and Taylor Williams added 13.
NHHS (12-4) travels to Rural Vista on Thursday for a make-up game that was scheduled for Jan. 22.
"We're just trying to make sure we're getting better night in and night out," Coach Massey said. "We played much better against Burlingame than what we did last week. We played much better tonight than what we did against Burlingame. We know what we're chasing — Alma-Wabaunsee — they gave us a kicking early in the season in (their) pre-season tournament. We've known all along they're going to probably be the No. 1-seed in our sub-state. We're (hoping) to play with them on a Saturday night (for a sub-state championship)."
Madison (7-9) will host Eureka on Tuesday.
NHHS 27 16 12 11 — 66
MHS 7 8 15 5 — 35
Northern Heights: Massey 14, Hinrichs 1, Davis 8, Hines 4, French 5, Dody 21, Smart 6, Boyce 2, Barnett 5.
Madison: E. Farrow 16, Williams 13, R. Farrow 3, Stutesman 3.
NHHS 11 18 8 20 — 57
MHS 9 15 15 23 — 62
Northern Heights: Orender 2, Floyd 1, Preisner 9, Heiman 37, Waters 4, Arb 4.
Madison: Buettner 19, Harrison 16, Wolgram 7, Wasson 7, Dr. Stutesman 10, Engle 3.