Monroe freshman Cekeyma Mack came off the bench Thursday and hit big shot after big shot --- and even blocked a couple --- to lead The Herald No. 1-ranked Lady Tornadoes past No. 2 Pelham in overtime.
MOULTRIE — It’s a worn out cliché, but the old idiom — “She lets her play do the talking” — fits Lady Tornadoes freshman Cekeyma Mack to a T.
Mack, another of Monroe’s talented underclassmen, doesn’t say much, but she didn’t have to Thursday after Herald No. 1 Monroe took down Pelham’s girls, ranked No. 2 in The Herald’s Fab Five poll, 56-48, in overtime at the Colquitt County Holiday Tournament, to hand the Lady Hornets (5-1) their first loss.
Mack came off the bench after sitting most of the first half with two fouls and scored all 11 of her points in the fourth quarter and overtime to spark the Lady Tornadoes after Pelham had led by as many as 10 in the third quarter.
“When we put her back out there (in the fourth quarter), she didn’t play like a freshman,” Monroe head coach Cheryl Cheeks said of Mack, who added two huge blocks in overtime to help outscore the Lady Hornets, 10-2, in the extra period.
Mack didn’t know what to say afterward — she literary was speechless in her post-game interview — and she was quiet in the first half, too, with fouls while Monroe built an 8-point lead with 5:08 left in the second quarter before Pelham cut it to 25-24 at halftime. The Lady Tornadoes then went graveyard dead cold in the third and parts of the fourth quarter, going scoreless from the field for 10:44 while Pelham went on a 9-2 run to end the first half and then started the third quarter on an 11-0 run.
When Hillary Williams hit a driving jumper in the lane with 3:04 left in the third, Pelham had taken a 35-25 lead before Monroe’s Devone Anduze finally ended the nearly 11-minute drought with a steal and fast-break layup.
“We went away from what we were doing,” Cheeks said. “We’re young, and we’ve just got to learn from our mistakes.”
Pelham took a 44-36 lead with 4:44 to play on 1-of-2 free throws from Herald Super 6er Briunna Freeman, who finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and two steals to lead the Lady Hornets.
“(Monroe is) always the team to beat in Albany,” Lady Hornets head coach Antonia Tookes said. “We were going to find out who we were (Thursday). I’m satisfied. We didn’t get the ‘W,’ but I know we can play with Monroe.”
The Lady Tornadoes outscored Pelham, 8-2, in the final 4:30 to send it to overtime. Aside from two free throws from Williams that gave the Lady Hornets a 46-44 lead with 1:18 to play, Pelham went cold from the floor, just like Monroe did in the second and third, with no field goals in the final five minutes of regulation and the opening 2:30 of overtime.
“I think it was just mental,” Tookes said. “Rebounding and free throws killed us and overtime got us. I guess we didn’t have any more gas.”
Pelham turned the ball over twice in the final 45 seconds with a chance to extend its 46-44 lead and grabbed a rebound on a Monroe miss in the final 10 seconds, but Anduze ripped the ball away and was fouled. She hit both free throws with four seconds left to send the game to OT.
Mack scored the first two baskets of overtime and had six points in the extra session to hand Pelham its first loss of the season.
“We came out the second half ready to play,” Tookes said. “I’ve got a team that’s going to get better and be exciting and we’re going to see what happens.”
Anduze scored 13 points with two steals to lead Monroe (10-2), while Herald Super 6er sophomore KeyKey Price also added 13. Williams scored 11 for Pelham in the loss.
Pelham’s girls play Colquitt County at 7 p.m. today in the Moultrie holiday tournament then Albany on Saturday. Monroe gets an early start today with a 9:30 a.m. battle with Washington County, minus North Carolina commit Alisha Gray, who is out for the season after surgery to repair a torn ACL. The Lady Tornados play Norland (Miami) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Glenwood (Ala.) sweeps Deerfield, deals boys team second loss of season
GLENWOOD, Ala. — Not even tying his season-high of 22 points was enough to lift Herald Super 6er Ramello Carter and Deerfield past Glenwood (Ala.) Academy on Thursday in the first round of the Border Wars Christmas Tournament as the Knights lost, 65-49.
Deerfield fell to 5-2 on the season.
DWS coach Gordy Gruhl blamed the loss on his team’s poor free-throw shooting.
“We were 7 out of 17 from the line — that was the difference. We’d get fouled and then miss two in a row,” said Gruhl, whose team’s road will only get harder today when the Knights face Alabama’s No. 1-ranked private school team in Lee Scott Academy. “These will probably be the best two teams we face all year.”
The game was within reach for DWS until late in the fourth quarter when Glenwood kept making it to the free throw line, where it went 7-for-8 in the final period.
GLENWOOD GIRLS 46, DWS 29: The Lady Knights fell to 3-6 despite a team-high 13 points from Nyla Perry.
DWS will face Lee Scott today in the second round of the Border Wars tournament.
TERRELL ACADEMY GIRLS 71, ASHFORD 36: In the opener of the Lakeside Christmas Tournament, the Lady Eagles won in a rout, thanks to Marilauren Farr’s 21 points and 20 from Lauren Barfield.
Terrell improved to 7-4 and now faces an interesting second-round game against host Lakeside, which beat TAE earlier this year after the Lady Eagles blew a double-digit lead late.
“We’re ready to play them again,” Terrell coach Keith Jones said. “It’s going to be a good matchup.”
TERRELL ACADEMY BOYS 57, LAKESIDE 45: The Eagles (4-5) won behind 15 points from Gable Freeman, 11 from Raleigh Carlson and 10 from Caleb Waters.
Terrell next faces Ashford (Ala.) Academy today.
CRISP ACADEMY GIRLS 45, SOUTHLAND 19: The Lady Wildcats improved to 11-2 on the season after J.J. Yawn led with 16 points, followed by Herald Super 6er Madi Mitchell with 10.
Crisp, which is hosting its holiday tournament, now faces Mount de Sales today in the second round.
RANDOLPH SOUTHERN BOYS, GIRLS FALL: The Patriots (0-6) remained winless on the season after falling to Lakeside, 67-65, in the opener Lakeside’s Christmas Tournament, despite a game-high 23 points from Jared Sauls. Rhett Ragan added 16 in the loss as the Patriots will now play Success (Ala.) today.
The Randolph girls, meanwhile, also lost to Lakeside, 72-51. Gabi Jackson led the Lady Pats with 14 points, while Parker Rigsby added 13 and Alana McCook chipped in 11.
The Lady Pats fell to 3-5 on the season and will face an opponent that had yet to be determined at The Herald’s press time Thursday.
Herald sports editor Danny Allert contributed to this report