ALBANY -- Monroe's kids were dancing on the court, shouting to the heavens, hugging and screaming and looking for every way to let go of all that emotion.
They had just beaten Crisp County, 48-44, to win their first Region 1-AAA title in five years, and after falling in the last two title games, this one felt better than anyone can remember.
"Oh, this feels good, so good. I've been waiting for this for so long, since my 10th grade year,'' said Monroe point guard Ted Hosley.
Hosley finished with 12 points and took over the game in a heated fourth quarter with two drives that not only defined the game, but all but lifted Monroe (23-4) past Crisp.
"The difference in this game is easy,'' Monroe's Jabari McGhee said. "Ted Hosley was the difference. Ted was the man. He is the man.''
Crisp, which lost to Monroe in overtime and by nine points earlier this season, gave the Tornadoes fits all night, thanks to the Cougars' Jontavious Carter, who finished with 18 points and four blocks.
It was Carter's eight-point second quarter that brought Crisp back from an 18-10 deficit to close to 18-16 at halftime, and it was Carter's baseline drive that caught Monroe at 20-20 early in the third quarter.
Crisp built the lead to 29-26, but Hosley hit two drives and then found Kevin Butler on a fastbreak pass with 45 seconds left to close the third quarter at 32-32.
The lead changed hands five times in the fourth, but Jonathan Morine came off the bench to hit a monster 3 with 6:30 left to give Monroe a 37-36 lead and Super 6er Rantavious Gilbert nailed a put-back to make it 39-36. Crisp answered one last time with a drive from D.J. Jackson, who scored 22 to help Crisp stun Westover in the semifinals, but managed only five points against Monroe, and a drive from Dantavious Colsen to lift Crisp to a 40-39 lead.
Then Hosely, a senior took over, driving into the heart of Crisp's defense on back-to-back trips and nailing both shots to lift Monroe to a 43-40 lead. McGhee, who finished with eight points and nine rebounds, nailed two free throws with 1:20 left for a 45-41 lead and when Javoris Cooks' shot sailed wide, Gilbert grabbed the ball with 40 seconds left to ice it.
"When (Morine) came off the bench and hit that 3, that was a big play for them,'' Crisp coach Terry Smith said. "And we just couldn't make shots at the end of the game.''
Monroe coach Marquis Davis talked about Hosley, his senior, and Morine.
"I thought that 3 was the turning point of the game,'' he said. "And Ted really stepped up. That was senior leadership. We talked about him attacking the basket, and he was attacking the basket.''
Hosley then added: "I just did what my coach asked me to do. It just feels great to win the region.''