The University High girls ran into a wall Thursday night, and it was one put up by the Madison Prep defense.
The Chargers forced seven turnovers during a crucial four-minute stretch in the second half and went on to post a 69-57 win at U-High in a game that decided the District 7-3A champion.
Madison Prep (19-14, 8-0) came into the contest rated fourth in the Class 3A power rankings while U-High (23-9, 7-1) was third in Division II.
The game turned late in the third quarter after Nya Miller’s layup gave U-High a 47-38 lead. Kaylin Jack’s 3-pointer got Madison Prep within 47-41 entering the fourth, and the Chargers scored the first 11 points of the period.
Madison Prep took advantage of seven Cubs turnovers as it rallied to take a 52-47 lead three minutes into the fourth quarter.
Miller, who finished with 16 points, hit a free throw to break the Cubs' drought, but it didn’t slow down Madison Prep. The Chargers scored the next seven points to complete a 21-1 run that bridged the final two quarters, and gave them a 59-48 lead with two minutes left to play.
Madison Prep made 13 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter. U-High made three of its last six shots, but was unable to get closer than eight points in the final two minutes.
“We picked up the intensity when we needed to, and we made the stops we needed to make,” MPA coach Dwayne Hayes said of the Chargers run. “The defense got going. We were able to get the steals and the turnovers we needed, and we were able to convert.”
Jack scored 10 of Madison Prep’s first 12 points during the run, and finished with 15 points. Aynessia Bell, who led the Chargers with 24 points, scored nine down the stretch as Madison Prep maintained control of the game.
For U-High, Sahvani Sancho made three 3-pointers and totaled 23 points. It wasn’t enough for the Cubs, who went seven minutes without a field goal in the second half before Sancho’s 3-pointer cut the Cubs' deficit to 59-51 with 1:50 remaining.
The Cubs also took a hit when foul trouble kept Miller off the court early in the fourth quarter.
“(Miller) picked up her fourth foul and they capitalized on that,” U-High coach Bonita Johnson said. “We couldn’t get it going. I think that when we lost the lead we lost the fire, and you can’t do that. You have to work hard the whole time.”
There were four ties and four lead changes in the first half.
U-High took an 11-10 lead before Jaylan Oliver scored six of her 10 points to give Madison Prep a 16-13 lead after one quarter. The Chargers led 25-20 in the second quarter, but Miller and Sancho sparked a 9-2 run as U-High took a 29-27 halftime lead.
“We’re developing good chemistry,” Hayes said. “We’re playing together well, and we’re getting it done. We’re doing what we need to do.”