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Madison Academy advanced to the Class 3A state semifinals for the second straight year.
And once again Greensboro will be the opponent.
Top-ranked and two-time defending state champion Greensboro (28-2) defeated the Mustangs 60-56 in last year’s state semis.
MA coach Andy Blackston said the players who faced Greensboro last year are looking forward to the rematch.
“It’s still in their minds,” Blackston said. “They’re excited to get another shot at Greensboro. We know what we’re getting into.”
Greensboro earned its spot in the state semis after wins over Midfield, 61-52, and Leeds, 54-44, in the Central Regional. The Raiders have not lost since a Jan. 8 setback, 54-47, to Class 5A, second-ranked Paul Bryant.
“It’s a tall order,” Blackston said. “We’ve had a lot of tall orders this year.”
Blackston referred to the Mustangs playing a season schedule filled with high-level competition to prepare for the playoffs.
“That’s why we do it,” Blackston said.
MA breezed past Hanceville 62-38 in the Northwest Regional semis before holding off No. 2 Mars Hill Bible 48-45 in the final.
Josh Langford shined in the two wins with two double-doubles. He had 22 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals in the Hanceville game and followed up with 26 points, 12 boards, four assists and three steals against Mars Hill.
Colby Crossfield and Zach Bogardus contributed 12 points apiece against Hanceville. Crossfield finished and five rebounds and Bogardus had seven. Malik Miller posted 11 points and eight boards against Mars Hill.
Blackston named two factors, defense and poise, as being critical to the Mustangs’ success.
“We really excelled in our game plan defensively,” Blackston said.
The Mustangs’ confidence level is high after overcoming a regular season slump where they lost seven of 10 games. They also lost starting point guard Kerryon Johnson for the season due to shoulder surgery during that stretch.
“These guys are very resilient,” Blackston said. “They keep bouncing back. They keep learning lessons.”
In December the Mustangs had to incorporate seven of players who had been unavailable in November due to playing on the championship football team.
Now those players can apply those lessons learned from their football title run.
Blackston spoke of that “crossover” of applying experiences from one sport to another.
“I’ve talked with (MA football) coach (Eric) Cohu about creating a culture where you expect to win,” Blackston said.
If the Mustangs get past Greensboro they will play the winner of the Southside-Selma/Holly Pond matchup for the state title.
Third-ranked Madison Academy reached the Northwest Regional final before losing 54-45 to No. 2 Lauderdale County.
The Mustangs (26-9) advanced to the final by blowing out No. 10 Danville 46-26.