NAMPA – Madison needed a furious fourth-quarter rally against Meridian in Friday’s 5A semifinal and senior Taden King did all he could.
King scored 19 of his 21 points in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough against the top-ranked Warriors, who were balanced and physical on both ends of the floor and built an early double-digit cushion.
The Bobcats chipped away, but Meridian held on in the final minutes to advance to the 5A championship game with a 66-56 win at the Idaho Center.
The Bobcats (20-5) will play Boise in the third-place game on Saturday. Tip is noon at Ridgevue High.
With only 24 hours to prepare for literally its biggest defensive challenge of the year, the early deficit proved too much to overcome.
Madison scored just seven points in the first quarter and the Warrior offense, which led 5A in scoring at 65.2 points, built a 37-23 lead at the half.
Brody Rowbury, the Warriors’ 6-foot-10 center, was a matchup problem and finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. When he wasn’t scoring, Madison defenders were racking up fouls trying to box our or get position in the paint.
“I think there was some intimidation factor,” Madison coach Travis Schwab said, adding Rowbury had more speed than they expected.
Even so, the Bobcats started chipping away in the third quarter. A 9-2 to close the quarter closed the gap to 50-40.
With 1:21 left, King sank a pair of free throws to pull Madison within 61-54, but the Bobcats would get no closer.
“I kept thinking if we could get this to five, a two possession game, we would be OK,” Schwab said. “We would fight, fight, fight and then give up a layup. And then they knocked down free throws when they needed to.”
Meridian (19-1) hit 19 of 27 free throws while Madison was 8 of 11 from the free-throw line. Meridian also had the edge in rebounds 30 to 20.
“I’m so proud of our kids for not giving up,” Schwab said.
MERIDIAN 66, MADISON 56
Madison 7 16 17 16 --56
Meridian 16 21 11 18 –66
MADISON – Logan Crain 5, Tyson Lerwill 2, Rhett Hathaway 3, Riley Sutton 9, Isaac Wilson 4, Braxton Pierce 8, Taden King 21.
MERIDIAN – Drayson Fisher 5, Davis Thacker 3, Joe Mpoyo 17, Brody Rowbury 17, McKay Anderson 11, Brenden McDowell 2, Colby Homer 11.