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Madison Heights

March 5, 2014

Madison girls set program record for wins as season closes in district semifinal

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Madison’s Asia Smith drives to the bucket during the Feb. 26 district semifinal against Bishop Foley. Madison dropped the game 43-41 but ended the season with the most wins in program history.

ROYAL OAK — Time was dwindling, and so were the options.

A 14-point deficit had been reduced to nine, but the biggest enemy now was the clock and the roughly three minutes showing on it.

So, the Madison girls basketball team did what it had to: launched 3-pointers from just about anywhere on the court.

“We put up a lot of shots, and when they’re going in, we look great,” coach Stephen Benard said with a smile.

But “great” hardly summarized this comeback, or the season for that matter.

When Parys Fuller nailed a 3-pointer with 35 seconds remaining, Madison was all square with Bishop Foley at 41-41 in a Class C district semifinal on Feb. 26.

The fairytale ended there, though, as Foley made a pair of free throws moments later and then held on for a 43-41 victory, ending the most successful campaign in Madison girls hoops history.

“We knew, coming in, we hadn’t seen a team like Madison all year,” Foley coach Dave Joseph said after his team escaped with a win. “With their speed and athletic ability, I told the girls we hadn’t played anyone like this.”

The compliment was deserved, and so too was the extraordinary success this winter entailed for the Eagles.

One year ago, this was a 1-20 team that averaged fewer than 29 points per game.

When Benard arrived for his first year, he said he inherited a team loaded with talent and potential.

“The first thing we had to do was establish that trust, though,” he explained. “I think there was a lack of trust in the past that the girls had to get past.”

The start was modest, a 2-3 record to be exact.

But then the wins started.

And there was little to stop them.

Madison rolled to 14 victories in a row and captured the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division title with a 13-1 record.

A year ago, they were 0-14 in league play.

In the three years leading up to this winter, the Eagles were 5-56.

“This was a great group of girls,” Benard said. “These seniors have so much to be proud of, and the  younger girls really stepped up to make this a great season.”

The Eagles are set to graduate four seniors — Prencis Chism, Asia Smith, India Smith and Amber Thomas — but could bring back seven players, four of whom will only be juniors next winter.

Benard smiled when asked about the future, saying simply, “It’s so hard for this season to be over, but we’re going to be back.”

In other playoff action
With the win, Bishop Foley advanced to the Class C district final and played Shrine in a game after press time.

Foley was 14-8 entering the final.

Madison Heights Lamphere had its season come to a close in 60-27 loss to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep in a Class B district opener.

In other Class B action, Hazel Park High fell to Ferndale University 48-47 in a Feb. 26 semifinal.

In playoff hockey action, Bishop Foley fell to Grosse Pointe North 8-0 in the opening game of the Division 3 tournament.