Madison coach Jaime Cotto said the Trojans are taking more of a long-range view of the Class 1A basketball playoffs this season.
A year ago, Cotto felt the Trojans may have let up just a little after surviving the Gibault Regional, which included three state-ranked teams in Madison, Okawville and Gibault.
Madison ended up losing 51-43 to Nokomis in the sectional.
"Last year, getting out of that regional was almost like winning the state title," said Cotto, whose 19-10 squad takes on Payson-Seymour (27-4) in a 7:30 p.m. game Tuesday at the Jacksonville Super-Sectional. "It was just a war to beat Gibault and to beat Okawville the way we did."
After sectional losses the last two seasons against West Central and Nokomis, Cotto hopes this Trojans team has learned from those experiences.
"I think this is the hardest-working group we've had at Madison," Cotto said. "They really work hard and they really pound the boards. We got 19 offensive rebounds against Gibault and that's a lot."
The Trojans got 21 points from senior guard Marquis Borney and 17 more from his brother, Tyvon Powers, in a 51-49 victory over Gibault on Friday at the Okawville Sectional championship.
Eleven of Powers' points came in the fourth quarter as the Trojans were forced to go deep into their roster because of foul trouble and a left ankle injury to Johnny Meitzenheimer.
"It's pretty sore, but I think he's going to be able to go," Cotto said of Meitzenheimer. "Obviously he won't be 100 percent, but he'll play."
Payson-Seymour, located near Quincy, is 27-4 with a 14-game winning streak. This is the first sectional championship in school history for the Indians, champions of the West Central Conference's South Division.
Payson beat Liberty 63-57 to win its first regional title since 1993, then knocked off Mendon Unity 50-43 to win its first sectional title.
"This is a step that Payson's never taken," Indians coach Brian Rea said. "It's a great feeling and it hasn't sunken in yet. We're not much to look at; when people see us come out for warmups they're not impressed. But what we do is care about each other and play as a team."
The Indians' top scorer is 6-foot junior guard Cody Hildebrand, who averages 21.2 points and 3.2 rebounds. He had 24 points in the Brown County Sectional title game and has a 41-point game to his credit this season.
"He's a competitor, he still hasn't scratched the surface of what he can be," Rea said. "A lot of times you don't know he's scoring as much as he does. Teams have a hard time stopping him because we have some other weapons that you have to honor as well."
They include 6-2 senior guard Jake Voss (15 ppg) and 6-foot junior guard Lance Buehlig (12 ppg).
"I think we play really good basketball in this area and don't get a lot of credit throughout the state for the players and coaching we have over here," Rea said.
Payson relies on an aggressive 1-2-2 zone press to attack teams, then falls back into a 2-3 zone that can force teams to connect from the outside. They also like to play at a fast tempo offensively.
"They're very, very aggressive defensively," Cotto said. "They get the rebound and they go. They want to score off their defense, they'll really try to turn you over."
The Trojans' go-to guy is Borney, who averages 21 points and is more athletic than most defenders he sees on the 1A level.
Powers, Deontay Starnes, DiJon Bryant, Meitzenheimer and Carvel Dixon add more firepower for the Trojans, who are seeking their first trip to the state finals since a third-place finish in 2010.
Madison won Class A state championships in 1977 and 1981 under former coach Larry Graham.
Rea said his team must focus on defense to be successful against the Trojans.
"Offensive rebounding, that's the biggest thing we have to stop," Rea said. "We can't allow them to get second chances. They're going to get some, but they want to get the ball up on the rim and get after it, get easy baskets."
Cotto said his team is confident following the win over Gibault.
"I thought defensively, especially in the first half, that was one of the best games we've played all year," Cotto said.
* The last time Madison played at the historic Jacksonville Bowl, the Trojans defeated Lewistown 48-45 in the 2010 super-sectional to reach the state finals.
*Rea played high school basketball for his father in Michigan and the team reached the Sweet 16 in the playoffs.