Madison Prep moves to Class B basketball final

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELDMadison Prep's Jarell Martin dunks against Castor on Saturday at  the  University Center in Hammond.
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELDMadison Prep's Jarell Martin dunks against Castor on Saturday at the University Center in Hammond.

There was no seemingly endless string of run-outs for dunks. And there was no 40- to 50-point margin of victory. But the Madison Prep express continued to roll nonetheless.

With LSU signee Jarell Martin and Brandon Sampson combining for 41 points, the Chargers notched a 66-48 victory over Castor in a Class B boys basketball semifinal Saturday at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s The Advocate/Southeast Regional at Southeastern Louisiana University’s University Center.

“We knew Castor would come out and play extremely hard,” MPA coach Jeffery Jones said. “They’re a well-coached team with a group of seniors. I knew those guys weren’t going to come out and lay down.

“We started off slow, but we persevered; we defended, and we made shots when it was time to make shots. I’m happy, especially since we lost here last year.”

With the victory, top-seeded Madison Prep (41-6) advances to play Simsboro winner next weekend in Monroe. It is the first title-game berth for MPA, a third-year program.

Sampson, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, made 8-of-12 shots from the field and scored a game-high 22 points. The 6-9 Martin was 7-for-12 and finished with 19 points, along with a game-high eight rebounds. Madison made 58.5 percent (22-of-41) of its shots from the field, scoring often on layups.

Chace Carter led fourth-seeded Castor (36-6) with 21 points, while Rudy Jones added 15. The Tigers had no player taller than 6-feet, causing matchup problems.

The fact that top defender Marquez McDuffy picked up three early fouls complicated things.

“Prep is so talented … they’re in a league by themselves in Class B,” Castor coach Randy Carlisle said. “When this kid (McDuffy) got his third foul, that hurt. When they (officials) called the little nit-pickers, it changed the approach for how we could guard.

“For this team to use 36 games against the competition we played is phenomenal.”

The Chargers opened the game with a 5-0 lead. Castor didn’t score until Carter hit a jumper from the left side with 4:11 left.

Madison took a 7-5 lead into the second quarter. Jones’ jumper tied the game at 7-7 with 6:34 to go in the half.

That’s when Martin and Madison got going. After scoring just one first-quarter point, Martin scored 10 second-quarter points, including a couple of thunderous dunks.

The Chargers used defense to create offense and led by as much as 11 points twice in the opening half.

Castor cut the led to seven on a layup by Carter with 1:04 remaining. The third quarter started with Martin scoring on a dunk in transition. That basket upped the Chargers’ lead to 26-17.

The Tigers found ways to keep it reasonably close. Two transition baskets — one by Martin and a follow dunk by Chad Williams — sent Madison into the fourth quarter with a 39-26 lead.

Dedrick Freeman was a defensive catalyst, often tipping the ball to teammates. The Chargers scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter and led 46-26 with 6:46 remaining.

Castor battled back and got as close as 12 points on a 3-pointer by Jones with 2:58 left. Madison took that 51-39 lead and built on it, scoring 15 of the final 24 points.