Monroe's Key Key Price, left, puts up a shot over the Westover defense during the second half Friday. Price led the way with 29 points in the Lady Tornadoes' win. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Monroe girls basketball coach Cheryl Cheeks admitted earlier this week that the landscape in girls basketball in Albany and Southwest Georgia was changing and simply said: “It’s our time.”
That was never more evident than Friday night when in front of a overflowing gym in one of their biggest games of the early season, Monroe’s Lady Tornadoes handed Westover a 45-32 loss to make yet another statement.
And once again, Key Key Price was priceless.
The 5-foot-7 sophomore guard almost outscored Westover by herself, finishing with 29 points — including five 3-pointers — 11 rebounds and four assists. Price scored 22 second-half points, and when she left the game with 1:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, she had 29 points — and Westover had just 25. Monroe led, 45-25, at that point after a 23-5 run to take over what had been a close contest.
In fact, it was 4-4 at the end of the first quarter and a tie game (13-13) at halftime.
Price was simply the difference in the second half.
“I felt we were down and I had to step up. I didn’t want to lose this game,” she said. “Nobody was making any shots. Somebody had to make a shot and it had to be me. I never scored 29 points in a game. I thought might have had 20.”
Monroe coach Cheryl Cheeks praised Price’s leadership.
“She had a great game. An outstanding game,” the coach said. “Key Key came out in the second half and did what we asked her to do — go to the basket and create some baskets.”
Monroe not only stayed unbeaten at 8-0 and atop The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll, but the win gives the Lady Tornadoes a 6-0 record in Region 1-AAAA.
Monroe has now beaten every team in the region except Worth County, which was winless entering Friday’s game against Dougherty. The Lady Tornadoes have only eight region games left and won’t play another region game until Jan. 11 when they face Worth County at home.
They will start the new year with the region title in their sights — and their vision has never been better.
Monroe, however, does have an ambitious schedule for the holidays.
The Lady Tornadoes play in the Carrollton Christmas Tournament, beginning with a game against Chapel Hill on Thursday, and then they play three games in the Colquitt County Christmas Tournament from Dec. 27 through Dec. 29.
They face Herald No. 5 Pelham in the opener in Moultrie and then meet Washington County — the team that beat Monroe in the Elite 8 round of the state playoffs last year — before facing Florida powerhouse Norland (Miami), which has a rich history in girls basketball.
That’s what Monroe’s future looks like, but the Lady Tornadoes took care of their past on Friday, beating Westover, which has historically been the favorite when these two rivals meet.
Not this time.
Monroe also got six points from freshmen Jomekia Morine and Cekaya Mack added four points, six rebounds and two blocks.
Westover was led by Alicia Samuels with seven points as the Lady Patriots fall to 5-5 and 2-3 in the region. Westover travels to face Lee County today.