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Monroe too tall for Terrell County

Photo by Mike Phillips

Photo by Mike Phillips

ALBANY -- No one is calling them the Twin Towers or Twin Tornadoes just yet, but it's probably just a matter of time before Monroe's two big men inside, junior Rantavious Gilbert and sophomore Jabari McGhee, forge some kind of nickname.

They didn't need a nickname Saturday night, just someone to keep up with all the points and rebounds.

By the time it was over, Herald No. 1 Monroe had outlasted No. 5 Terrell County, 60-46, to hand the Greenwave (4-1) their first loss of the season, and McGhee and Gilbert had made a lasting impression, combining for 32 points, 25 rebounds and six blocked shots.

Both had double-doubles.

"We expect them to get a double-double every night,'' said Monroe coach Marquis Davis, whose team is 5-0. "This was a good game for us. It's good anytime you can win a rivalry game. It's good for the fans and it's good for your players' confidence.''

That confidence got a boost as Monroe turned the game around in the second half as McGhee scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, and Gilbert scored nine of his 11.

Gilbert finished with 12 rebounds and four blocked shots, and McGhee, who took over the game at times, finished with 13 rebounds, two blocks, three steals and some highlight tape moments.

"I was just doing whatever I could to help my team,'' McGhee said. "You can really start to see us coming together now. We're really getting close.''

It shows on the court, where it took some big shots from Bamba Dioum, who finished with 14 points, and Carlos Brown to help hold off Terrell County and Super 6er Teral Hall, who not only ran the Greenwave's fast-paced attack but was fearless, often driving into the heart of Monroe's defense to hit some breath-taking drives.

Hall finished with 18 points and Markez Dotson, who hit back to back 3s during one stretch in the fourth quarter to keep the score close, finished with 10 points.

Brown hit Terrell were it hurt the most. He busted a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to finally lift Monroe to a 20-19 lead and Brown hit a long two-pointer to end the third quarter that gave the Tornadoes a 36-29 lead they never relinquished.

"We played well in the third and fourth quarters,'' Davis said. "But we didn't play very well in the first half. The only good thing about the first half was when we hit the shot at the buzzer to take the lead.''

McGhee, who scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in the opening moments of the game and then sat out with two fouls for most of the second quarter, took over in the second half.

"He (McGhee) is really coming into his own,'' Davis said. "The last three games he has scored 20 points or more. He's a difficult matchup for people.''

That's because at 6-foot-7, McGhee is so quick, and he's not afraid to drive to the basket. He made several moves to the basket in the second half, including one coast-to-coast drive that brought down the packed house at the Monroe gym.

Gilbert had his moments before he fouled out midway in the fourth quarter, and even when he was fouled by Terrell County's smaller front line, he made the Greenwave pay by hitting 5 of 6 free throws.

"We had to play big,'' Gilbert said. "We're a lot taller than they are, and coach expected a lot out of us.''

They delivered.

"They're pretty tall, and they're pretty good,'' said Terrell County coach John Davis, whose team went to the Class A Final Four last year. "I'm proud of our kids and told them not to hang their heads down.''

Davis knows how big the games against Monroe, a Class AAA power, are and how much it can help his kids -- and the rivalry and packed gyms just add to the flavor.

"We play these kinds of games to get us ready for later,'' said Davis, who doesn't have a starter over 6-foot. "It prepares us for what's coming down the road.''

Terrell County hurt itself, making just 7-of-21 free throws, but the Greenwave still managed to make the game close until the final minutes when Monroe eased away to the 14-point win.

"They outrebounded us and we didn't make our free throws,'' Hall said. "But we will build on this game. We will get better because of it.''

So will Monroe.

"They're scrappy and they play at a fast-pace,'' McGhee said. "You have to run with them or they will just go by you, so this game will help us. It's a big rivalry game. The gym (was packed) and everyone was into it. If that doesn't pump you up and make you want to play, then nothing will.''

MONROE GIRLS 65, TERRELL COUNTY GIRLS 26

Terrell County shot 75 percent from the field in the first quarter, and trailed 20-6 at the break. That's because the Lady Greenwave took only four shots (they made three of them), because Monroe's unrelenting defense forced 17 turnovers.

Combine the 17 turnovers and a hot start by Super 6er Sheniqua Young, who scored 14 first quarter points and went on to score 27 in just three quarters, and the tone was set for this one.

"We did an awesome job in the first quarter, especially on defense'' Monroe coach Cheryl Cheeks said. "We just have to work on our lay-ups and our offense. We could score 100 points a night if we could make our lay-ups.''

Monroe did shoot well in spurts, especially Young.

"I was feeling it,'' said Young, who went 9 of 18 from the field and made six 3-pointers. "I was feeling my shot. We just wanted to come out and play hard.''

Davone Anduze scored nine points for Herald No. 2 Monroe (5-3) and Ashley Johnson had a big night with eight points, six rebounds and seven steals.

"We do what we can whenever we can,'' Johnson said. "If we can win the game in the first quarter then we will. I was loving it tonight. The team really came together.''

Monroe had lost a couple of close games, but might have played its best game of the year on Saturday.

Anduze was philosophical.

"We just had to get back on track,'' she said. "It's what's coming that counts, not what is in the past.''

Terrell County (1-4) has improved dramatically this season, but Monroe's defense still gave the Lady Greenwave problems.

"We are playing better,'' said Terrell County coach Tammye Jenkins, whose team was led by Nydrah Wright (8 points) and Cortisha Schley (7 points). "But there pressure defense gave us problems and we couldn't get the ball past halfcourt. That about sums it up.''