Jim Thompson, Madison High School's basketball coach, says his team always seems to play better when it's behind.
In a City Eastern League game at Mira Mesa Friday night, however, Madison took the lead early in the first quarter and never relinquished it, going on to a 76-67 victory. There were times, though, that it seemed that Madison (17-3, 5-0) would rather have been trailing.
The Warhawks built leads of 12 points in the first half and 8 points with 2:45 remaining in the fourth quarter but each time allowed Mira Mesa (9-8, 1-4) to get back into the game.
Two free throws by Scott Smith ended an 8-2 run and pulled Mira Mesa within 69-67 with 31 seconds remaining before Madison pulled away for good.
"We don't seem to want to do anything easily," Thompson said. "We'd play well to get a lead, but then we'd let them back into it."
Madison's forwards, Andre Mitchell and Jeff Alexander, were the two key reasons the Warhawks, ranked No. 3 in the county, were able to remain in control. Mitchell scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, most of them at the offensive end, and Alexander had 13 points and 16 rebounds. Wesley Bertelson scored 16 points for Madison, including a pair of baskets in the Warhawks' 7-0 run to end the game.
Chad Shirley and David Lee scored 22 points each for Mira Mesa, which stayed in the game despite being out-rebounded, 50-21.