Albany High’s Joshua Anderson, right, tries to put up a shot around the defense of Statesboro’s O’Aaron Ware during Thursday night’s opener in the U Save It Pharmacy Boys Basketball Tournament for the Indians. Albany started out cold in the contest and ended up falling, 64-55, to drop into the losers’ bracket. (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

Albany High’s Joshua Anderson, right, tries to put up a shot around the defense of Statesboro’s O’Aaron Ware during Thursday night’s opener in the U Save It Pharmacy Boys Basketball Tournament for the Indians. Albany started out cold in the contest and ended up falling, 64-55, to drop into the losers’ bracket. (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

ALBANY — Monroe’s Tornadoes hit the court hard and fast Thursday and had an easy time beating Terrell County, 61-53, in the opening round of the U Save It Pharmacy Boys Basketball Tournament at the Albany High gym.

Monroe, ranked No. 1 in The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll, is now 8-0 and will face city rival Dougherty in the semifinals at 7 p.m. today. The Tornadoes ripped off a 13-0 run to start the game and were leading, 21-3, when Marquis Davis sent in his backups with 1:20 left in the first quarter. The second- and third-team players stayed in the game until the second half.

Monroe led just 36-26 at halftime, but Herald Super 6er Jabari McGhee and the starters took over down the stretch. McGhee had a crowd-pleasing dunk to end the third quarter that lifted Monroe to a 52-40 lead, and then he had a reverse dunk that had them shouting in the stands to make it 54-40 early in the fourth.

Tim White led Monroe with 16 points and seven rebounds, and McGhee finished with 14 points and six rebounds. It was night for backups for Monroe, which saw Hakeem Porter come off the bench to score five points and grab four rebounds to lead the backups.

“What we were trying to do is get other players a chance to play,” Davis said. “Every chance we get, we want to play other players to see if they can help us in the second half (of the season). I thought we played well in the second half (of the game). I thought we had a horrible second quarter. But we got a chance to play a lot of players. We’re not out to humiliate anybody.”

Terrell County (2-3) was led by Tiavelle Stephens, who scored 15 points, and Diquan Griggs, who hit three treys and finished with nine points. The Greenwave will now play Albany High in the consolation bracket at 5:30 p.m. today.

WESTOVER BOYS 75, MANCHESTER 65: So much for being undefeated.

That’s what Westover had to face in the opening round of the U Save It Pharmacy Boys basketball Tournament on Thursday when the Patriots drew unbeaten Manchester in the first round game.

No problem.

The Herald No. 2-ranked Patriots slammed home a 75-65 win in a game that included four dunks in the third quarter when Westover turned a 35-33 halftime lead into a comfortable 56-46 cushion. Westover led by as much as 15 (75-60) in the fourth quarter, and will now play Statesboro at 8:30 p.m. today in the semifinals of the eight-team tournament.

Herald Super 6ers Kel Miller and T. J. Cromer led the way for Westover (6-2). They combined to slam home six dunks and score 42 points. Miller had three slams, including two in the third quarter when he scored 13 of Westover’s 21 points. He also grabbed two rebounds in the third and was part of a long-distance assist to Cromer, who dunked in a 47-36 lead. Miller was just paying back a favor. On the previous play Cromer, who plays quarterback for Westover, grabbed the defensive rebound and tossed a full court TD pass to Miller, who played receiver for the Patriots in the fall. Miller promptly slammed in a crowd-pleasing dunk.

It was a dunk-a-thon Thursday for Westover, which finished the night with eight jams.

“(Those dunks) came because of good defense,” Westover coach Dallis Smith said.

Manchester (5-1) drove Westover crazy early and simply beat the Patriots to the basket in the first quarter, but Westover’s defense became stingy in the second quarter with an in-your-face approach and eventually dictated the game.

“That was the difference — our defense,’’ Smith said. “They picked up the defense in the second and third quarter, and that was the difference. I told my kids that (Manchester is) a good team. They can give a team fits because they have quick guards. We’re still not playing the type of defense we want, but we are working to get there.”

The Pats had plenty of offense Thursday.

Miller finished with 24 points and five rebounds. Cromer dropped in 18 and had six rebounds and six assists, and he hit a big 3 in the fourth quarter after Manchester had closed to 68-60 with 1:09 left to make it 71-60 and give Westover breathing room. C.J. Davis also had a big game for the Patriots, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Kevis Martin lead Manchester with 22 points. The Blue Devils not only played for the Class AA state title last year but opened the season at 5-0 and were one of the favorites to win the tourney. They meet Albany at 5:30 today in the consolation bracket.

None of that bothered Westover.

“I’m not really concerned with what other people are doing at this point,” Smith said. “I’m more concerned with what we’re doing.”

His kids felt the same way.

“We didn’t know (they were undefeated),’’ Cromer said. “We weren’t worried about them. We were focused on us and on playing good defense.”

Miller agreed.

“After the first quarter we changed some things,’’ he said. “They have quick guards and they were spreading the floor, but we picked up our intensity on defense.’’

And the offense followed.

“At halftime, coach Smith told me I had to pick it up,” said Miller, who responded by scoring 17 second-half points.

Miller scored nine of Westover’s first 11 points (Davis dunked in the other two) in the third quarter and simply found more room going to the basket. That was no accident.

“I told him he needs to go to the basket more and not settle for the jump shot,” Smith said. “And we were more aggressive at the defensive end. Miller and Cromer both had good games, and (Davis) played well. We’re just trying to get to where we need to be.”

Westover won the U Save It title last year, and Cromer, who was named the MVP of the tournament as a junior, said he wanted to win the title again.

Westover is ranked No. 2 in The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll, right behind unbeaten Monroe, which handed Westover a 70-63 loss last Friday. The top two teams in The Fab 5 are in opposite brackets and the talk of the tournament is a possible showdown for the title Saturday night in the title game at the Civic Center.

“We want to play Monroe again,” Cromer said. “Monroe is a good team.’’

Westover took the first step on Thursday.

DOUGHERTY BOYS 57, WEBSTER COUNTY 33: Michael Miller led the way with eight points and three rebounds and Montrell Sisroe busted a pair of 3s while Tevin Smith dominated inside and dropped in five points.

And that was just in the first quarter.

That’s how Dougherty’s Trojans opened up the U Save It Pharmacy Boys Basketball Tournament at the Albany High gym, where Dougherty rolled past Webster County, 57-33, in the first game Thursday afternoon.

The Trojans built a quick 26-10 lead and rarely looked back. Webster made a run in the third quarter to close the gap to 30-21, but Shunwaski Wheeler answered with a 3 to ignite a 15-4 run that included a 3 from Wheeler to end the third quarter and an and-one play from Miller that opened the fourth and lifted Dougherty to a 45-25 lead.

Miller finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Wheeler, who hit three treys, scored 12. Sisroe finished with eight points and Smith scored seven. Webster (2-8) was led by Raheem Gardner, who scored 13.

“We’re just trying to get better,” said Dougherty coach Donald Poole, whose team improved to 4-3. “I think we did real well in the first quarter (to get the big lead), but you’ve got to keep going. You’ve got to keep playing defense. You can’t relax.”

Poole said Dougherty’s big run to end the third is what he wants out of his team.

“That was a good run, but we still have to work,’’ Poole said.

The Trojans play Herald No. 1 Monroe today at 7 p.m. in the semifinals.

STATESBORO BOYS 64, ALBANY 55: “Cold” might be a strong enough word to describe what happened to Albany High’s Indians in the fourth quarter of their opening round game of the U Save It Pharmacy Boys Basketball Tournament on Thursday against Statesboro.

Gloves, scarves and thermal underwear couldn’t have warmed up the Indians, who missed their first nine shots in the fourth and — after battling Statesboro all night — fell, 64-55.

Albany High forced six turnovers in the first five minutes of the final quarter but couldn’t take advantage. The Indians didn’t make a basket in the fourth until Sean Wooden hit a short jumper with 4:45 left in the game, and went 4-for-22 from the field in the fourth.

Statesboro wasn’t much better, making just one shot — a drive by O’Aaron Ware with 1:32 left — in the final eight minutes. But Statesboro drained 9 of 12 free throws to put the game away.

“During that stretch in the fourth quarter we did everything right, but we just couldn’t get the shots to fall,” Albany coach Archie Chatmon said. “They had something to do with that, but we had good looks and just couldn’t get anything to fall. If any of those kids has a normal shooting night and we get a couple of baskets it could have been a different outcome.

“But I was really pleased with our effort,” he added. “It was just one of those nights.”

Statesboro (9-1) meets Westover in the semifinals today back in the Albany High gym at 8:30 p.m. Albany High (4-4) faces Manchester, which was unbeaten before losing to Westover on Thursday in the consolation round of the tournament at 5:30 p.m. today.

No one could gain control early night as Albany came back to close strong to end the first quarter at 18-18, and it was still knotted — at 33-33 — at halftime. It was a 50-46 game when Alex Simmons hit a 3 at the buzzer to end the third quarter to lift Statesboro to it biggest lead of the night, 53-46.

And that was plenty to hold off Albany High.

“They were getting inside on us and we tried to force them to take the outside shot in the fourth quarter,’’ Statesboro coach Lee Hill said. “That was the difference, making them take outside shots.’’

Malik Dungee-Ali led Albany High with 12 points. Tyler Cheese scored 11 for the Indians. Emanuel Byrd had a solid night, scoring six points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking three shots. He also had seven assists. Zaquazian Smith led Statesboro with 19. Ware and Simmons scored 14 each.