Madison, the top-seeded team in the 5A District 5-6 boys basketball tournament, has been a successful postseason program and coach Travis Schwab likes what he’s seen so far this year as the Bobcats begin district play on Tuesday against Highland.
A 19-2 record and perfect 6-0 run in conference is reason for optimism, but Schwab noted his team’s defense may prove the difference as Madison makes another charge toward the state tournament.
“Defensively, they want to be one of the best teams, if not the best team, in the state of Idaho,” Schwab said. “Our mentality going into a game is not ‘Let’s go outscore the team,’ it’s ‘Hey, let’s hold them to this or shut them down to this.’”
The Bobcats average about 60 points per game and have a relatively balanced attack. But they surrender just 45 points per game and thrive off the energy of their defense. In two of their most heated rivalry games with Rigby, Madison held the Trojans to 42 and 43 points. The dramatic 56-43 victory over Rigby two weeks ago helped secure homecourt advantage in the district tournament, a benefit that could prove crucial in the postseason.
“That’s why we preach to our kids all year long we have to be the best defensive team,” Schwab said. “You’re going to have nights where your shots don’t fall … we just want to be playing our best basketball the next couple weeks.”
Another factor that could play to Madison’s advantage is experience. Seven players returned from last year’s team which won the 5A state consolation trophy, with six earning extensive playing time last season as juniors. The current roster features seven seniors.
“They make my job easy,” Schwab said. “We won a district championship last year and remember how that feels and remember the work it took to get that done.”
Spencer Hathaway averages 15 points, with Kyle Jackson 11, Mason McWhorter nine and Jaden Schwab eight points. The Bobcats may not win in a high-scoring shootout game, but they haven’t had to. In their six conference games, the most points given up was 45. That was to Highland last week in a 60-45 victory.
Despite its two losses in conference, Rigby is also a very good defensive team. The Bobcats and Trojans could end up facing each other at least once in the double-elimination district tournament.
“We told the kids the best defensive teams are going to be the two teams that go to state,” Schwab said. “If you’re going to win a district championship, you’re going to be the best defensive team.”