Monroe’s Rantavious Gilbert and the rest of the Tornadoes have two huge games this weekend. Herald No. 1 Monroe travels to Crisp County tonight and then to Terrell County on Saturday.
ALBANY — It’s just not fair.
So many big time games so early in the season. So many crucial region contests before Santa even slides down the chimney.
For the high school basketball fan, it’s just not fair physics won’t allow you to be in two places at once.
“It’s tough because usually you want to play (the big region games) after Christmas break,” said Westover boys head coach Dallis Smith, whose team plays host to city rival Dougherty tonight. “For both of us, it’s not fair, but that’s the way the schedule is made.”
Crisp County coach Terry Smith, whose team welcomes Monroe High tonight, added “It’s just the way the cookie crumbles.”
Westover’s boys and girls were slated to play Dougherty today and Albany High Saturday at Albany State University, but the venue was changed back to the high schools. Westover will host Dougherty today and travel across town Saturday to Albany High.
Dougherty’s boys (2-1, 1-0 Region 1-AAA) have won two straight after a season-opening loss to Albany, while Westover (4-2, 1-0 Region 1-AAA) bounced back from a bumpy start with a 54-48 payback win over Thomasville, which had beaten the Patriots by 24 a week earlier, and then dropped Worth County by 33 Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Albany (2-0) awaits Saturday for Round 2 after the Indians, led by Tim Pierce’s 28 points, upended Westover, 72-61, before Thanksgiving.
“We missed a lot of free throws (in that loss),” Smith said. “We’ll try to come out with a different attitude and correct our mistakes.”
Albany will join its fellow city schools in Region 1-AAAA next season if no appeals are made by next week to the proposed region realignment for 2012. Westover will be without senior Kenneth Towns tonight for personal reasons, but will have him in the lineup Saturday, Smith said.
The boys’ game with the most firepower likely will be Monroe at Crisp County. The Tornadoes finally got on the court Tuesday and rolled over Americus-Sumter, 66-36. They’ll be tested much more tonight in Cordele against a Cougars team that came to Albany this time last year and took Monroe to two overtimes before falling.
“It would be nice to have one like that (again) except for us to come out on top,” said Crisp’s Smith, whose team is the only Region 1-AAA school that will play just one region game before the December break. “Both teams are going to fight hard. They are the defending region champs and we’re still in the learning process.”
Crisp (2-0) returns its Big 3 from last season - seniors D.J. Jackson, Marshall Taylor and Jontavious Carter - while Monroe counters with one of the best juniors in the state, forward Jabari McGhee, and 6-foot-8 center Rantavious Gilbert in the middle. Both ar Herald Super 6ers. Smith added that Cougars’ sophomore point guard Taylor Walls has taken over ball-handling duties without a hiccup, which frees up their three main scorers.
Monroe, The Herald’s No. 1 ranked team, travels to Terrell County on Saturday night in one of the toughest weekends of the season for the Tornadoes.
In Class A boys’ basketball, Terrell County plays host to Pelham, which took Randolph-Clay to the wire Tuesday, tonight and then has its hands full against Monroe on Saturday in Dawson. The Greenwave (2-1) have won two in a row after an overtime loss in the season opener against Miller County. Terrell County lost only three games in the regular season last year, and two of those were to Monroe.
On the girls side, it doesn’t get much bigger than tonight’s Dougherty-Westover showdown at the Boston Garden, pitting The Herald’s No. 1 and undefeated Lady Pats (8-0, 1-0 Region 1-AAA) against the unbeaten No. 2 Lady Trojans (4-0, 1-0 Region 1-AAA). Dougherty is the defending region champion after shocking Westover last season in the title game. Westover will have to bounce back the next day against Albany’s Squaws and Herald Super 6 senior guard Chasity Mullins.
Monroe’s Lady Tornadoes (2-1, 0-1 Region 1-AAA) and Super 6 senior sharpshooter Sheniqua Young had Crisp’s number last season, beating them twice in the regular season, although the Lady Cougars (1-1) advanced to the Final Four with the inside presence of current 6-3 sophomore center Nasheema Oliver.
A much improved Terrell County girls’ team, led by sophomore guard Takerian Jordan, faces a huge test tonight at home against reigning Region 1-A champ Pelham High (4-1) and Super 6er Shay Reece, senior star Octavia Kierce and freshman phenom Briunna Freeman, who has scored 59 points in her last two games.