Monroe’s Jabari McGhee, who led the Tornadoes with 16 points and six rebounds, drives to the basket against the Terrell County defense during Saturday’s game.
ALBANY — With huge region games on the horizon this week, there was still no chance Monroe or Terrell County would look ahead.
The Tornadoes, bigger in classification and physical size, couldn’t afford to do it even with a region showdown with Westover looming Tuesday. And, of course, the Greenwave loves knocking off their bigger neighbors any time they can despite a revenge game with Calhoun County Tuesday.
Thanks to three Greenwave turnovers in the final 30 seconds, Monroe hung on to win 55-51 at the Civic Center Saturday and is riding a six-game win streak at the right time of the year.
“Tough games like this, I think they’re going to help us in the long run,” Monroe head coach Marquis Davis said. “I knew (Terrell County) was going to come ready.”
The smaller Greenwave battered Monroe (17-5) inside despite being surrounded by the Tornadoes’ length and won the rebounding edge 32-30, but came up short on the scoreboard, thanks in large part to Jabari McGhee’s 12 second-half points. McGheee finished with 16 and six boards.
“They’re a good team,” McGhee said of Terrell. “They’ve got some good wins and they came ready.”
Terrell County (15-8) led 39-33 with 1:45 left in the third before Monroe went on a 15-4 run. Reserve senior Eugene Byrd had a clutch lay-in at the end of the third along with several key rebounds that ignited the spurt.
“(Byrd) had a rough start at the beginning, but since January he’s really given us a spark off the bench,” Davis said. “That’s two nights in a row. He gave us a big spark against Cairo (Friday).”
Terrell’s Dekoven Ware scored a game-high 25 points with seven boards, including three 3-pointers, but it wasn’t enough at the end. Ware tied the game at 51-51 with two free throws at the 2:02 mark, but another Monroe reserve, junior Johnterious Wallace, had a clutch lay-in off of Nicholas Plummer’s steal and assist with 25 seconds to play, giving Monroe the lead for good.
“We made some turnovers there at the end,” Terrell County head coach John Davis said. “Worst case scenario, we wanted to go to overtime. It’s a confidence builder. (We) played well and it should help us mentally (after playing Monroe tough).”
Daniel House added 12 points in the win for Monroe. Still undefeated in Region 1-AAA, the Tornadoes can lock up the top seed with a win Tuesday against Westover at Darton College.
“They’ve had some tough games lately, but we’re still Monroe and they’re still Westover,” McGhee said.
The Greenwave, meanwhile, play host to Calhoun County Tuesday after they were upended by the Cougars earlier this season, 80-67.
“We need to get that one for the subregion standings,” said John Davis, whose only loss in Region 1B-A is to Calhoun, which picked up its first subregion loss Saturday to Randolph-Clay. Tuesday’s game will likely decide the top seed in 1B-A.