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No. 1 Monroe boys wins in first defense of state's top ranking; girls fall by 20

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

CORDELE -- Monroe High School boys coach Marquis Davis keeps hearing the outside advice.

People tell him his undefeated and No. 1-ranked Tornadoes -- by The Herald and most recently in the entire state -- should lose a game just for the sake of it. They tell him it would benefit his team in the long run; that maybe a loss would build a bigger chip on the Tornadoes' shoulder than they already have.

Davis said he wants to hear none of that, however, after his team remained undefeated Friday night with a 57-49 win against Crisp County.

"I don't believe in losing," said Davis, whose team is 19-0 overall and 10-0 in GHSA Region 1-AAA. "We don't go to practice to lose. Our goal each and every day is to defend what we have."

For instance, after senior Robert Arnold guaranteed a perfect season earlier this week, and the other players did not back off from it.

Instead, they embraced it.

"It goes with what we've been saying all season, just defend what you've got," said Rontavious Gilbert, who had six blocks in the win.

On Friday, the Tornadoes defended shots well overall, blocking 11 total attempts, while Arnold had a double-double, accounting for 15 points and 11 rebounds.

"During the past eight or nine games, he has been a leader on the floor," Davis said of Arnold. "He's a quiet leader on the floor, but his actions have spoken during the past two months."

Brandon Blakely, who scored nine points for the Tornadoes, sparked a 9-0 run with the first of his two second-quarter treys. Arnold followed with a layup and putback as Monroe began to pull away and lead, 26-17, at halftime.

"Brandon has been doing that all year, making the big shot," Davis said. "The second quarter was good for us."

Just as it seemed the Cougars, who upset seventh-ranked Westover last week, were poised to make a run, they would miss from 3-point range.

"We basically just shot ourselves out of the game," said Crisp County coach Robert Cotton Jr., whose team is 7-9 and 2-6. "One thing you can give to Monroe is that they play with confidence."

It's a confidence that seems to have grown after Arnold's guarantee.

"I feel really comfortable with the guarantee," Arnold said. "We're not going to lose this season, I still say that."

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CRISP COUNTY GIRLS 71, MONROE 51:

Crisp County jumped out to a 20-8 lead in the first quarter and pulled away once again in the second half.

On one play in the second half, Monroe was still in its bench huddle while the Lady Cougars' Shaterria Dawson scored a layup.

"We got no warning of the first horn, we were in shock," said Monroe's Chelsea Cox, who scored 10 points.

She was not the only one in shock after the play gave Crisp a 50-41 lead. The Lady Cougars then outscored Monroe, 21-10, the rest of the game.

"We didn't hear the horn and they took the ball out," said Lady Tornadoes coach Cheryl Cheeks, whose team's record dropped to 8-11 and 5-5. "Usually, a referee comes in and warns about the first horn. But we also didn't fulfill many defensive assignments and (Crisp County) got a lot of baskets from that. Defensively, we didn't come to play (Friday)."

LaKeisha Jackson led Monroe with 17 points, followed by Sheniqua Young with 11.

Crisp County is now 13-5 and 6-3.