AUGUSTA — It wasn’t how many points Madison scored Tuesday, it was how few points the No. 4 Bulldogs allowed in advancing to the Class C South girls’ basketball semifinals with a 43-30 victory against 12th-ranked Traip Academy at the Augusta Civic Center.

The Bulldogs (13-7) will take on eighth-seeded Searsport (13-7) in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Civic Center.

“I thought we played very good defense,” Madison Coach Al Veneziano said. “We tried to keep them off balance and I think we did a pretty good job with that.”

Madison used a variety of defenses to keep the Rangers (8-12) at bay, including a full-court press, man-to-man pressure and a 2-3 zone. The Bulldogs forced 20 turnovers, 14 in the first half.

“We switched it up a lot,” Madison forward Erin Whalen said. “We had different sets for when we made it (and when) we missed it, and we ended up going into that zone in the second half because we thought that would work well.”

“In the first half they pressured us a little bit and we kind of panicked,” said Traip Coach Scott Blake. “We expected it but we made silly passes, tried to go too fast at times.

“The last three weeks, four weeks of the season, we’d actually taken really good care of the ball. We should be used to it. Every team we’ve played this year has pressured us. It’s nothing new.”

Sydney LeBlanc scored nine of her 10 points in the second quarter as Madison opened a 25-12 halftime lead.

Madison’s dominance on the boards was a major factor. The Bulldogs grabbed 37 rebounds –13 offensive – to Traip’s 25.

“I thought we could get more offensive boards than we did. We gave up some offensive boards we shouldn’t have. We just didn’t box out,” Blake said.

Added Whalen: “We put in a lot of effort so that helped in getting rebounds.”

Madison negated the Rangers’ size advantage by being aggressive and attacking the basket. Traip was in foul trouble early, and point guard Kiara Perez and forward Marina Casey were forced to the bench in the third quarter with four fouls.

“They have some big young kids so they’re going to be back,” Veneziano said. “We were kind of the aggressors with them. We thought we could get them into foul trouble, which we did.”

Madison led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, but poor free-throw shooting in the fourth allowed Traip to linger. After making 8 of 10 foul shots in the first half, Madison made 13 of 28 in the second.

“We work on that quite a bit. I guess we need to stop working on it and see what happens,” Veneziano joked. “You get ahead and you want to put the final nail in the coffin, so you get a little bit nervous.”

LeBlanc and Madeline Wood each scored 10 points for Madison. Casey led Traip with 13.


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