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Fitzgerald's Mizell Lippett drives to the basket as he is surrounded by Madison's Jaylin Golson (left) and Nick Wallace (10). (Macomb Daily photo by Liz Carnegie)

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BOYS BASKETBALL: Fitzgerald sidetracks Madison, 72-62

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MADISON – Fitzgerald couldn’t stop Madison’s Davon Payne from scoring 32 points on Friday, so instead the Spartans found a way to get to the basket against the Eagles.

“We started talking more; started concentrating on defense,” said guard Mizell Lippett, who along with Tony Jackson accounted for 50 points as Fitzgerald remained unbeaten in the MAC Blue Division with a 72-62 victory over rival Madison.

The Spartans improved to 9-1 overall and 5-0 in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division. Madison fell to 4-6 both overall and in the division.

“They came out hard,” Lippett said of upset-minded Madison. “But we didn’t let go and didn’t get down when we were behind. It was a good win.”

The game was knotted 44-44 in the fourth quarter when Fitzgerald hit four free throws, including two after a technical foul. The crafty Jackson then followed with a 3-pointer, then a 2-pointer and the Spartans had a 53-44 bulge.

They never looked back.

“We’ve had some excellent games with Madison and we’re happy to get out with a win,” Fitzgerald coach Joe Kopicki said Friday. “I was happy with the kids’ effort.”

Madison had a good game plan and was able to slow down the tempo of the game from the start. The Eagles clawed to a 28-24 lead at halftime.

The fans from both sides enjoyed a typical hard-fought, see-saw affair as Friday night’s tilt had seven lead changes.

“The first half we played slow down and played (Madison’s) game,” Kopicki said. “We saw that in the second (half).”

Madison first-year coach Matt Ferguson was getting everything he could from his players; at one point screaming at his players to play better defense.

It was sharp-shooting Payne, a junior, responding with a game-high 32 points for Madison.

Lippett, a brilliant 5-foot-11 senior guard, scored all nine of his team’s points in the first quarter. It was the Lippett and Payne show back and forth for both teams in the first half.

Jackson, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, was quietly putting together a 23-point night for the Spartans. He will be counted on the rest of the season to lead when Lippett is double and tripled teamed in zone defenses.

Kopicki said this year’s varsity roster, including student-athletes like Jackson and Lippett, are “putting in the time this year.”

He also credited senior Andre Higgins (11 points) as well as junior Deangelo Hutson and 6-foot-4 senior Deon Kelley who each notched four points on Friday/

“They’re being rewarded for putting in the time,” said Kopicki, a long-time coach for the Spartans, and a former Fitzgerald player.

Madison was able to dictate the play in the first half and jumped out to a 12-9 lead after the first quarter when Payne hit the first of five 3-pointers on the night.

“Davon’s a good player,” Ferguson said. “He’s trying to play better defense. He’s got to work at it and that will make him a better player.”

Freshman Mike Floyd (10 points) is going to be a good one for Madison, said Ferguson who noted the Fitzgerald-Madison matchup is “always a great rivalry.”

“This was a good high school game,” Ferguson said.

The coach noted before Friday’s game that his team is young and three sophomores are now back on the roster. Plus, it is Ferguson’s first season at Madison after a stint at South Lake.

“We’re very young,” he said. “It’ll take some time.”

Payne, a 5-foot-10 guard, was 13-for-16 at the free throw line for Madison. The Eagles shot 16-for-26 at the foul line. Nick Wallace (3 points) fouled out for Madison, but it didn’t matter as Fitzgerald had seized control in the final stanza

Fitzgerald plays at Grosse Pointe South on Tuesday in MAC Blue action, while Madison travels to Anchor Bay and Fraser next week.

Fitzgerald 9 15 20 28 – 72

Madison 12 16 16 18 – 62

FITZGERALD: Mizell Lippett 27, Steven Ochoa 3, Tony Jackson 23, Deangelo Hutson 4, Deon Kelley 4, Andre Higgins 11. Totals 24 21-35 – 72.

MADISON: Lewis Brown 5, Davon Payne 32, Nick Wallace 3, Jaylin Golson 8, Mike Floyd 10, Armani Nelson 2, Anthony Love 2. Totals 19 16-26 – 62.

Last Updated: 1/25/2013 11:55:27 PM EST