ALBANY -- Monroe's Jessica Burks won't be getting any Christmas cards from Americus-Sumter's Jayme Gilbert any time soon.
Burks and the Lady Tornadoes put the clamp on Gilbert and the Region 1-AAA-leading Lady Panthers to the tune of a 73-63 win Friday to help Monroe keep pace in the playoff race.
Gilbert was held to just four first-half points and went 1-for-8 from the field, allowing Monroe (11-8, 4-3 Region 1-AAA) to build a healthy 35-24 lead at halftime.
"My coaches said we can't let (Gilbert) take over the game," said Burks, a senior who was in the face of the Lady Panthers Super 6er all night. "Somebody had to (slow) her down, so I just said I couldn't let her score."
Gilbert still managed to lead Herald No. 2 Americus-Sumter (13-3, 5-2 Region 1-AAA) with 17 points, going 5-for-13 from the field and 8-for-10 at the foul line. She still was frustrated at times with Burks' defense and eventually fouled out with a minute to play.
"I know she was getting frustrated," Burks said. "She got into foul trouble. It's a big win. They were the No. 1 team (in the region) and we put it in our head that ain't no team better than us if we play Monroe ball."
The Lady Panthers took their only lead of the game, 18-17, with 3:42 left in the first half before Monroe's Super 6er Shanequa Young caught fire. She hit four 3s and Burk added one in a span of less than two minutes during a 16-0 Lady Tornadoes run near the end of the first half.
Young hit six treys, two shy of her career high in a game, and finished with a game-high 27 points. Young also finished with 12 boards, but was proudest of the defensive effort from her teammate.
"It was excellent," Young said of Burks' defense of Gilbert. "If we took (Jayme) out of the game, we felt like we could (win)."
Burks finished with seven points as well, adding eight rebounds. Davone Anduze scored 14 for Monroe to go along with three steals. Ashley Johnson had 13 points, nine boards and three steals.
Americus cut the Monroe lead to five, 51-46, as Gilbert finally got untracked with a three-ball with 6:13 to play. Ashley Howard's two free throws got the Lady Panthers as close as they would get with 37 ticks left and Monroe's lead at 67-63. But Burks' steal with 33 seconds to play led to Anduze's two free throws that iced the game.
"It was a tough loss on the road," Americus-Sumter head coach Evelyn Wright said. "I thought we did a much better job in the second half. We just missed too many baskets at the beginning. That would have set the tone."
Wright said the defensive hounding of Gilbert is nothing new.
"Everybody's been playing two people on her," Wright said. "She's trying to get used to it, but (that's what happens) when you get no calls and people pushing you down and holding.
"I told her not to let that bother her."
Adasjah Mercer added 13 points and eight rebounds for Americus, while Diamond Denmark finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Americus, which is undefeated at home, hosts Cairo High on Tuesday, while Monroe travels to Crisp County on Tuesday.