RICHMOND — The Madison Central boys' basketball team was unbeaten but, in the eyes of Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr., untested going into the second week of 2012.
But Feldhaus finally got what he was looking for as the No. 5 Indians had to scratch and claw to beat Bryan Station 75-71 in a grind-to-the-finish battle Tuesday night.
"We wanted that. We needed somebody to challenge us," Feldhaus said. "We hadn't had a close game, the kind where in the last three minutes you have to make good decisions.
"We wanted somebody to really bring it to us."
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Madison Central got that and more from Bryan Station, a team it beat 80-65 in a holiday tournament at Montgomery County a few weeks ago.
But the Defenders have a new look now, with Jaylen Beckham becoming eligible last week. The former Lexington Catholic star had 30 points, eight rebounds and seven steals against the Indians. The 6-foot-1 senior guard had 15 points in the last quarter as Bryan Station sliced an 11-point deficit to just two in the final minute.
But Madison Central got the ball to the right people — junior guards Kenjah Bosley and Dominique Hawkins — down the stretch.
Bosley hit nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, including two with 13 seconds left that sealed the victory. He finished with 21 points.
Hawkins was just as clutch. When Madison Central desperately needed to blunt Bryan Station's momentum, he got a couple baskets on strong drives.
"I thought he willed 'em in on a couple possessions," Defenders Coach Mike Allen said of Hawkins. "He made great plays."
John O'Bryan played an important role for the Indians, too. The sharp-shooter hit four three-pointers and had 17 points.
Quan Taylor, a 6-4 junior, was a force inside with 11 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots.
Bryan Station's quick-handed defense forced Madison Central into 22 turnovers and caused chaos at times. But the Indians ultimately proved themselves.
"If I was coaching against us, I would make us prove we can handle the press, the pressure," Feldhaus said. "Nobody tries to get after us. I wanted somebody to get after us like Bryan Station did."
So did Bosley.
"We really hadn't played anybody who had the same athletes as us, but Bryan Station matched up perfectly with us," he said. "It was a good test. We showed we can play with anybody in the state."
The Defenders showed they're a team to be reckoned with in the 11th Region.
Besides Beckham, they were led by Larry Morton, who overcame a rough shooting night (3-for-18) to get 13 points, five rebounds and three steals. Marcus Williams added 14 points.
"Jaylen makes a difference because he's got experience, being a senior," Allen said.
"I feel the chemistry is getting better and we're learning our roles. Psychologically, our confidence is a lot better, too.
"But when you play an upper-echelon team like Madison Central, we've got to make the big play. Tonight, if we had made a big play here or there, we might've won."
BRYAN STATION (5-11) — Morton 3-18 7-8 13, Beckham 10-17 7-10 30, Williams 4-7 4-7 14, Smith 2-3 1-2 5, Hipps 0-2 3-4 3, Sweat 2-3 2-2 6. Totals 21-50 24-33 71.
MADISON CENTRAL (16-0) — Hawkins 7-1 3-6 18, Bosley 5-8 11-13 21, O'Bryan 6-11 1-1 17, Allen 1-4 0-0 2, Stocker 3-4 0-0 6, Taylor 4-8 3-5 11. Totals 26-50 18-25 75.
Bryan Station 18 17 11 25—71
Madison Central 17 15 19 24—75