Throughout all of Madison County’s recent success within Region 8-AAAA, there’s been one team that’s remained a thorn in Madison Countys side.
Friday night, the Red Raiders plucked that thorn, avenged a 30-point loss from December and overcame a three-year drought to defeat Stephens County 73-59.
None of the current Madison County players were on the varsity roster the last time the Red Raiders defeated the Indians in January 2017, a fact head coach Bryan Bird believed helped his team win.
“They were tough to beat. We couldn’t find a way to get over that hump against them last year,” Bird said. “All but Adam (Metts) are getting their first significant minutes as a varsity player, or first year ever as a varsity player. They don’t know anything about winning or losing streaks because they’ve never really been a part of it.
“We’re not focused on winning streaks or losing streaks, we’re looking to get better every day. They do a great job trying to do that. Some days we take a step back, but right now, we’re taking more steps forward.”
No two players embodied that more than Nolan Hill and Roderick Jones. Both led the Red Raiders with 19 points. Jones dominated the second quarter with 10 points and Hill helped put the game away with seven fourth quarter points.
One player has been played in seven of the nine-straight losses to Stephens County however. Adam Metts joined the varsity roster his sophomore year (2017-18). Friday was a sweet victory for the senior who scored 14 points.
“They were loaded my sophomore year and last year we battled against them two times and we couldn’t pull it out,” Metts said. “We just had a bad game there and we knew we were never going to play like that again. That was just one of our fluke games. Here, we were excited, we had a good crowd with an atmosphere and we took care of business.
“We’ve shot well here the past two region games. I knew when we all started passing the ball, getting good ball movement and rebounding well, I knew it was going to be different than the other games.”
Stephens County (7-14, 1-4 Region 8-AAAA) launched the opening salvo with a two-point layup, but that’s the closest the Indians would come to victory. Metts responded with a three-pointer which propelled a 12-0 opening run. The Red Raiders eventually jumped out to an 18-6 lead but the Indians reeled them back to cut the score to 23-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams traded buckets consecutive shots by Jones extended the Madison County (6-16, 3-2 Region 8-AAAA) lead to 37-21. The Red Raiders led 39-24 at halftime and then they obliterated Stephens County in the third quarter to lead 58-32 with eight minutes left.
Stephens County made the score more respectable in the fourth quarter, but Madison County’s 26-point lead proved too insurmountable and it held on to win 73-59. The win was the exact opposite of Madison County’s loss in December. The Red Raiders scored only 28 points that night and had their worst shooting night of the season.
“That was one of the worst shooting nights I’ve ever seen,” Bird said. “I told the guys after we played, ‘look, that game is going to be the worst we play all year,’ and it is. I knew we were going to get better as the year has gone on. We still have ups and downs, but we played really well tonight.
“They played so well together tonight, I thought it was one of our best team efforts and best rebounding efforts. And it’s not just statistically, it’s the little things like picking each other up, talking to each other.”