Carrollton, Madison (20-0) heads into the Division III tournament with
loads of momentum and confidence.
Playing 10 of the first 14 games on the road will harden a girls basketball team that has nine underclassmen on its 14-woman roster. So will scrimmages at Division I powers Beavercreek and Lakota West. Middletown Madison has weathered the storm. The Mohawks opponents haven’t been so lucky.
Completing an undefeated season with Monday’s 45-30 win over West Carrollton, Madison (20-0) heads into the Division III tournament with loads of momentum and confidence. Twenty games ago that wasn’t exactly the case. The Mohawks lost to Hamilton Badin in last year’s sectional final 55-18.
Madison is ranked No. 6 in the AP state poll.
“What (Madison head coach) John (Rossi) has done has gotten them to believe that they are sixth in the state,” Bellbrook head coach Jason Tincher said. “Half the battle is getting the girls to believe that they are that good and to be that good you have to come out every day and night and play as hard as you can and that’s what Madison does. I’m sure there are naysayers out there and you can use that as motivation. I’m sure John does that very well.”
“When you’re this young you have to believe,” Rossi said. “Were’ humbled (by our ranking) but we’re not satisfied.”
The Mohawks have established themselves as postseason threat despite having five freshman and four sophomores on the varsity roster. Youth hasn’t been a hurdle.
“We don’t have a lot of depth but our kids are playing together,” Rossi said. “We utilize substitution patterns as much as we can and we hope depth is not a problem for us in a close game.”
Thus far the Mohawks have been just fine in the final minutes.
Only six of Madison’s wins have been by less than 10 points, and the Mohawks have survived scares from Fenwick (32-31), Hamilton Ross (32-30), Valley View (50-48) and Bellbrook (52-50).
Balance is a strength for this team, which starts a freshman and sophomore in the post.
Four players average double-figures, including standout freshman Ally Malot (12.95 points per game) and sophomore Lindsay Hoskins (10.9 ppg). Senior forward Sarah Blevins averages 10.2 points, while junior guard Shelby Roe chips in 11.4.
Malot, who stands 6-foot-1, also leads the team in rebounds and blocks.
“(Ally) is 6-1 and we ask her to play some defense, rebound and score,” Rossi said. “We want her to do a little bit of everything. She’s special.”
Against Bellbrook, Malot blocked the potential game tying shot at the buzzer.
“The freshman can take you inside and out,” Tincher said. “With her height and dribbling ability she is tough to defend and she creates a match-up problem. Who you going to put on her? A 5 or a 3?”
Rossi also calls the 5-10 Hoskins “under the radar” and said: “The bigger the game, the better she plays.”
That’s good for the Mohawks, because several big games could be in store.
Just to make it out of the district, Madison will have to wade through potential meetings with Fenwick, undefeated Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (No. 8 in the state) and Casstown Miami East (No. 4).
Time to apply some war paint.
“I think we compete well as a team,” Rossi said. “And we work hard at practice, I can tell you that.”
Warned Tincher: “You better match their intensity.”