ALBANY -- Terrell County picked the wrong night to play Monroe.
"I didn't plan it this way,'' said Terrell County boys basketball coach John Davis, whose Class A team gave AAA Monroe (21-1) all it wanted and more before falling, 64-57, on Saturday at Monroe.
The same gym had been packed 24 hours earlier when Monroe saw its perfect season end with a 77-63 loss to city-rival Westover.
It was a classic showdown, but the loss will no doubt knock Monroe from its No. 1 ranking in the AAA state poll and season-long No. 1 ranking in The Herald.
"They didn't want to lose twice. It's like they wanted to take their frustration out on us,'' said Terrell County's Alre'k Brown, who was coming off a 21-point night in last week's victory against Westover.
Brown was just as good Saturday, only this time it came in a losing effort. His team went to halftime trailing, 28-18, as Brown had more fouls than points (three fouls and two points after spending time on the bench), but ignored the foul trouble to help bring back the Greenwave, which stormed back from a 10-point deficit to knot the score, 48-48 with 3:45 left in the game.
Brown finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. He even hit a 3 that closed the gap to 42-39 early in the fourth quarter, and stayed on the floor the entire second half, finishing the game with four fouls.
"He was determined and focused. He's played with three and four fouls most of the year,'' Davis said. "He needs to get used to it, because we'll be going into the region and the playoffs.''
The Greenwave (18-5) is unbeaten in Region 1-A, and ranked seventh in the state poll. It's hard to imagine six Class A teams better than Terrell County, which hasn't lost to a team in its class all season.
"We will take what we can from this game and learn from our mistakes,'' said Terrell County point guard Terel Hall, a Super 6er who had another brilliant game. Hall helped Terrell County force 20 turnovers, ran the floor for the Greenwave and scored 15 points. The Greenwave also got 13 points from Markez Dotson, whose putback with 2:30 left tied things at 50-50 to set the stage for the dramatic finish.
"(Monroe) played hard,'' Dotson said. "We came back, but at the end we didn't play defense.''
It's no surprise to anyone that Robert Arnold led Monroe. Arnold, a Herald Super 6er who had 27 points and 15 rebounds in the loss to Westover on Friday, came right back with another big night, scoring 21 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and coming up with three steals and two blocked shots.
Brandon Johnson, a fellow Super 6er, had a sterling game as well, finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds. But his biggest impact was on defense, because he stopped Terrell County all night. Johnson not only blocked five -- count 'em 5 shots -- but he came up big when Monroe needed him most.
Terrell County opened the fourth quarter with a 14-8 run to tie things up, and it was still tied at 50-50 when Brandon Blakely, who finished with 15 points, hit an outside shot to lift Monroe to a 52-50 edge. Terrell County's next two trips down the floor were stopped by Johnson, who blocked his fifth shot to get the ball back and then intimidated Dekoven Ware, whose inside shot sailed wild.
Johnson's defense sparked a 10-1 run by the Tornadoes, and Johnson was at the end of four of those points, both on assists from Arnold, who also scored four points in the run to give Monroe a 60-51 lead with less than a minute left to play.
"I'm really proud of my kids,'' the Greenwave coach said. "They fought and fought and fought. When we tied it, I thought we should have had a little more patience with our shots. I think we rushed a little bit.
"But Monroe came out focused and determined. Coming off a loss, they came out motivated. They were focused on what they needed to do.''
Monroe coach Marquis Davis told The Herald before the game that neither he, nor his players, will be speaking to the media for the rest of the year.
LADY TORNADOES ROMP LADY GREENWAVE, 66-26:
ALBANY -- Talk about bouncing back.
Monroe's girls basketball team came back from a tough 40-30 loss to city-rival Westover and won easily Saturday, 66-26, against Terrell County. Ashley Johnson led the way with 16 points, and Lakieisha Jackson dropped in 14 for the Lady Tornadoes.
Jennifer Burks hit a pair of 3s early and finished with a career-high 14 points for Monroe, which improved to 11-11 after winning only three games a year ago.
"The goal was to get better,'' Monroe coach Cheryl Cheeks said. "We've come a long way in the last three years. They've really worked hard and it's beginning to show. And they're still young and learning.''
Jackson is the only senior on Monroe's team.
Terrell County (2-18) is also young. The Lady Greenwave were led by Cortisha Schley (9 points) and DeAndre Mitchell and Jaleesa Richardson, who scored six points each.
Monroe, which had trouble scoring against Westover, made four of its first six shots Saturday and led 23-5 at the end of the first quarter.
"I thought we were going to come out pumped,'' said Burks, who scored 11 points in the first quarter. "I think the loss (to Westover) motivated us to go out tonight and get the W.''