ALBANY -- Monroe girls basketball coach Cheryl Cheeks struggled to find the right words to describe what she just witnessed.
What she saw was Cairo converting 26-of-32 free-throw attempts while her team hit only 4-of-18 and turned the ball over 18 times. The result was a 60-51 loss against the Syrupmaids.
Cairo, which has won just four games, closed its regular season at 5-19 overall and 5-9 in GHSA Region 1-AAA. Monroe, meanwhile, closed the regular season at 12-13 and 7-7.
"I honestly don't know what to say," Cheeks said later, her voice hoarse from trying to spark her team. "I'm at a loss for words. I can't tell you what happened to us other than we just didn't play very well at all. There's no better way for me to explain it."
Monroe, spurred by six points from Lakeshia Jackson, surged to a 14-8 lead at the end of the first period. In the second, Cairo sank eight straight free throws and got a 3-pointer from La Neyshia Barber to claim a 25-22 halftime advantage.
In the third period, Quan Sadberry led the Syrupmaids on a 13-4 opening run that built a 38-26 advantage with 4:10 remaining in the period. Jackson scored five points and Vanshayla Johnson's three helped Monroe cut the lead to 40-35 heading into the final quarter.
The Lady Tornadoes finally drew even with Cairo at 44-44 with 5:43 remaining, but Cairo responded with a 16-7 run to put the game away. Half of Cairo's 20 points in the period came from the free-throw line. Monroe scored just two points from the line during the final eight minutes.
"I guess we just weren't concentrating on our free throws," Cheeks said. "We haven't been shooting very well at the line lately and it caught up with us (Saturday)."
Jackson led Monroe with 15 points while Sadberry led all scorers with 18. Barber scored 16 and Dominique Davis added 12.
Despite the loss, Cheeks said the region tourney represents new opportunity.
"We'll try to get motivated to play next week," Cheeks said. "We'll be ready."
MONROE BOYS 74, CAIRO 53: Robert Arnold scored 22 points as Monroe closed its regular season at 22-1 and 13-1 with a romp past Cairo.
The Tornadoes, who closed with three straight wins after suffering its lone loss of the year against Westover, notched their second-highest point total of the year.
Monroe bolted to a 24-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back. Cairo (16-8, 9-5) drew within seven, 36-29, at the half. But the Tornadoes extinguished Cairo's comeback hopes in the opening minutes of the second half as four different players scored in a 12-0 run and a 48-29 lead.
The Tornadoes led by 21 (53-32) at the end of the third and pushed their lead to 30 twice in the fourth quarter.
Alexander Hunt followed Arnold with 11 points, and Carlos Brown also added 11.