Monroe’s Rantavious Gilbert skies over a pair of Colquitt County defenders Tuesday night during The Herald No. 1 Tornadoes’ game against the Packers. Gilbert, a Herald Super 6er, scored 10 points in the victory, which improved Monroe’s record to a perfect 4-0. (email@example.com)
ALBANY -- Monroe's big weapons did enough damage and the Tornadoes got a nice third-quarter spark from its bench to stay unbeaten Tuesday.
After leading just 21-19 at halftime, Monroe used a 13-2 run to open the second half and held off Colquitt County, 48-37, to improve to 4-0 on the season and kept its streak of allowing less than 40 points in a game alive.
With big man and Herald Super 6er Rantavious Gilbert saddled with four fouls early in the third quarter, backup post Hakeem Porter came in and provided a lift during the second-half run. Porter, better known for his accolades on the offensive line at Monroe, used a nice drop-step in the paint to score four of his six points to help shoot the Tornadoes out to a 34-21 lead with 3:11 to play in the third quarter.
"I've just got to be ready to play coming off the bench," said Porter, whose 300-pound frame is perfect to beat and bang inside the paint. "I love it."
Jonathan Morine and Darryl Hines also had key buckets during the third-quarter spurt, which saw Monroe -- The Herald's No. 1-ranked team -- outscore the Packers 18-7.
"Hakeem Porter came off the bench and gave us a good little spark," Monroe head coach Marquis Davis said. "The bench (as a whole) gave us a spark in the third quarter."
Herald Super 6 junior Jabari McGhee led Monroe with 12 points and seven rebounds, and also had a block on a fast break that forced him to run the length of the court before tracking down a would-be fast-break bucket. Despite the foul trouble, Gilbert scored 10 points, plus five blocks and four rebounds in the win. Nicholas Plummer added seven points, all in the first half.
Colquitt (0-4), which recently was able to practice as a full team after its football team was eliminated in the semifinals of the Class AAAAA state playoffs, gave Monroe all it wanted in the first half.
"The first half we weren't focused at all," Porter said. "We know how to play together and how to execute every play. We just weren't executing."
Colquitt's Devontay Ward scored seven points in the first half to keep things close, but was held scoreless in the second half. He finished with seven rebounds. The Packers were led by Sharmaine Washington's 12 points.
"In some spots we had some good things, but the first quarter (scoring only 11 points) -- you just can't beat good teams like that," Davis said. "We just had a few more players than Colquitt did. They played hard. We've got to have a little more (production) on the interior and on the perimeter. We're not going to be able to beat good teams scoring 40 points a night."
For the first time in five years, Davis also wasn't facing his brother, former Packers head coach Kirven Davis. Kirven is now an assistant coach at Terrell County, who the Tornadoes beat last week in Dawson.
"Me and my brother played against each other a number of years and it was a good experience for both of us," said Marquis, whose team will next play in the U-Save-It Holiday Tournament beginning Saturday in Albany.
Monroe and Colquitt were also being watched by University of Georgia head men's coach Mark Fox on Tuesday in Albany. Fox came to see Monroe last year as well, although he wasn't permitted to talk about any particular players.
MONROE GIRLS 48, COLQUITT COUNTY 43: Monroe trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter and used their own second-half magic to rally. The Lady Tornadoes outscored Colquitt 21-4 during an eight-minute stretch between the third and fourth quarters to come back from a turnover-plagued first half.
"We shouldn't have to come back from 15 (down)," Monroe senior Chelsea Cox said. "When we buckle down our pressure and run our press right, (good) stuff happens to us."
Cox finished with nine points and six rebounds, scoring seven points in the second half, including five clutch free throws down the stretch. Monroe was 8-for-12 from the free throw line in the final minute.
Herald Super 6er Sheniqua Young scored 13 points with seven boards and two steals. Cessilly Colwell scored 10 in the win. Colquitt was led by Maranda Trim's 14 points.
The Lady Tornadoes next play in a holiday tournament in Warner Robins beginning Saturday.