REXBURG – A full week off in the middle of a snowy February has a way of making a team rusty.
The Madison Bobcats shook off that rust after an 11-point first half to pull away from the rival Rigby Trojans with a 44-34 win in the 5A District 5-6 boys basketball tournament Thursday night at Madison High School.
Senior big man Braxton Pierce helped erase the memory of a 5 for 19 first half shooting effort by the Bobcats, scoring nine straight to start the third quarter to turn an 11-9 lead into double digit separation.
In all, Pierce finished the quarter 5 for 5 from the field with 11 of his game-best 17 points.
“We are defense. That’s who we are,” Pierce said. “We proved that early, but weren’t really scoring. Coach said we needed some dogs to come out and get some buckets, and I did the best I could.”
Fellow dog Taden King did his part, scoring 13 more for the Bobcats as the senior twosome accounted for all but 14 of Madison’s points.
Madison outscored the Trojans 18-9 in the third quarter, and made that cushion stand up to take a 2-1 lead in the season series between the rivals.
Though it was Madison who was coming off a week-long layoff, the Trojans looked even more rusty in the early going, despite an opening round rout of Idaho Falls on Tuesday.
Rigby missed its first eight field goal attempts, getting its first points five minutes into the game on a lay-up from junior Karson Barber.
Barbers gimme didn’t do much to warm up Rigby’s shooting, as the Trojans wend on to miss their next six shots and finish the half shooting 9 percent (2 for 22).
“I don’t know what was going on there,” Rigby senior Rysen Tyler said. “We were focused on playing tough defense, and I think we did that well in the first half.”
Junior Karson Barber led the Trojans with 10 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to pace his team in the loss.
No. 2 seed Madison (18-4) moves on to play No. 1 seed Thunder Ridge at TRHS on Tuesday.
Rigby (15-7) gets a rematch against Idaho Falls, who eliminated Highland on Thursday. The Rigby-Idaho Falls matchup is a loser-out game, and Rigby must win to stay alive in its quest to claim one of the district tournament’s two available state playoff berths.
MADISON 44, RIGBY 34
RIGBY -- Karson Barber 10, Kobe Jones 8, Trajen Larsen 6, Kade DaBell 5, Ethan Fox 5
MADISON -- Braxton Pierce 17, Taden King 13, Eli Randall 5, Logan Crane 3, Tyson Lerwill 2, Spencer Young 2, Berrett Wilson 1, Ben Dredge 1