Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Madison boys utilize superior depth, size to mow down 3A competition
After Madison lost a nail-biter to Lincoln in the Dallas ISD/Coca-Cola Invitational in December, coach Damien Mobley raised his players’ spirits with a prediction.
“I told them I thought that was going to be the last game we lost for the season,” he said.
So far, and now so near to the school’s third state basketball title, the coach has been right. Madison (30-4) has a 16-game winning streak heading into a Class 3A semifinal matchup with Abilene Wylie (34-4) at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
“People have perceived the team as overachieving,” said Mobley, who was coach when Madison won its last title in 2009, “but I think we’ve just been meeting some of our expectations.”
The expectations are always high at Madison, which is making its third trip to state in the last five seasons. But there’s no doubt the Trojans will be perceived as overachievers if they clutch the championship trophy Saturday.
That’s because Houston Yates, which in the last four seasons has won two 4A titles and was last year’s runner-up, is back in Austin this week. And Yates is now in 3A.
Yates (31-4) is No. 1 in the 3A state rankings. Madison is No. 2.
“Whoever you put in front of us,” Madison senior forward JD Wallace said, “we’re going to play them.”
In other words, Madison won’t be intimidated. And it won’t look past Wylie, which the Trojans hope to wear down with a bench that’s amazingly deep.
Madison has 15 players on its playoff roster, and all of them will probably play Thursday. Nobody on the team averages more than 17 minutes per game, including leading scorer Admon Gilder, a 6-2 sophomore who averages 17.5 points and 5.3 rebounds.
The depth allows Madison to play at a frenetic pace and run past opponents.
“We go out there and play our hardest,” Gilder said, “and then when we get tired, here comes another group.”
That group will be fresh, athletic and have rare size for a 3A team. Madison has four players at least 6-7, including Derrick Smith, a 6-8 forward who averages 10 points, 10 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Ten or more players have scored in each of Madison’s playoff games.
That makes Madison look a lot like Yates, the full-time, full-court press team that was pronounced as the 3A favorite on the day when the UIL realignment was released. Yates dominated so many 4A — and 5A — teams in recent years, so what 3A team could compete?
Madison could be the one, although the Trojans don’t want to talk past the semifinals. And regardless of the opponent, Madison’s focus will stay the same.
“It all comes down to the motto we’ve had all year: play with no fear,” Mobley said. “Just believe in everything we’ve done to this point.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.