Albany’s Tim Pierce, left, shoots over Monroe’s Daniel House for two of the game-high 30 points he scored Friday to beat the Tornadoes, 65-43. (email@example.com)
ALBANY — Is there a better player in Southwest Georgia than Tim Pierce?
Is there a better team than Albany High?
You could find the answer to both Friday night at the Albany Civic Center, where Pierce stole the ball, the spotlight and the game from Monroe, pouring in 30 points in about three quarters to lead the Indians to a 65-43 rout in a showdown between The Herald’s top two ranked teams.
Monroe lost more than the game. Herald Super 6er Rantavious Gilbert limped off the court with 3:42 left in the first quarter and left the Civic Center on crutches with a sprained ankle. Monroe is hoping it’s not serious and Gilbert, a 6-foot-8 master at blocking shots, will be ready for the Region 1-AAA tournament. Monroe (17-7 and 11-1 in Region 1-AAA) is the No. 1 seed and won’t play until Thursday’s semis.
Pierce, also a Herald Super 6er, was unstoppable all night, and when he slammed in a dunk, then finished an and-one-play with 3:53 left in the third, he, alone, actually led Monroe — literally — 28-26. Honest. The and-one play gave Pierce 28 points and lifted Albany to a 42-26 lead.
“I don’t know what you can say about that? That’s Tim Pierce,’’ Albany High coach Archie Chatmon said. “He was asking for the ball, and that’s a good thing to see. He came into this game with a purpose.’
“He and (Larry Sanford) both came into this game with intentions. That’s what they’ve got to do for us to beat teams like Monroe.’’
Sanford, who finished with 13 points, hit the floor running, and popped in back-to-back 3s to give Albany High a 6-0 lead, and the race was on. Pierce had 11 first-quarter points and it was 18-10 at the break and 36-24 at halftime.
“That set the tone,’’ Chatmon said of Sanford’s start. “We were able to hit some shots early and then Tim took over at that point. And I can’t say enough about our defense. It was a beautiful thing to watch. That was a beauty.’’
Albany, 20-2 and ranked No. 5 in the Class AA state poll, took a 50-32 lead into the fourth quarter and routed the Tornadoes. Monroe was led by Super 6er Jabari McGhee, who scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Nick Plummer followed with eight points. Monroe clearly missed Gilbert, and Monroe coach Marquis Davis didn’t feel like talking after the game.
“I hope Gilbert is going to be all right,’’ Chatmon said. “It’s a pride game and you give it your all and hope no one gets hurt.’’
Dougherty boys, girls sweep Worth; Monroe girls crush Albany
ALBANY — Dougherty’s Darrell Anthony went 8-for-10 from the field and finished with 19 points and nine rebounds to lead the Trojans past Worth County, 59-41, on Friday at the Albany Civic Center. The Trojans wrapped up the No. 4 seed in next week’s Region 1-AAA tournament with the win. Dougherty (8-11 and 5-7 in Region 1-AAA) jumped out to a 23-6 lead and never trailed. Worth County (8-17 and 1-11) was led by Elliot Anderson, who came off the bench to score 15 points.
MONROE GIRLS 66, ALBANY HIGH 35: Monroe beat Albany High for the second time this season in a non-region game that wraps up the season for The Herald No. 4 Lady Tornadoes (17-5 and 7-5 in Region 1-AAA) at the Civic Center. Monroe saw 15 girls score in the one-sided win. Chelsea Cox led the way with 12 points and Herald Super 6er Sheniqua Young added 11. Jasmine Williams scored eight points. Herald Super 6er Chasity Mullins led Albany with 11 points and Nakiedra Gervin followed with eight.
Albany High plays Brooks tonight on the road to wrap up its regular season.
Monroe had reason to celebrate because when Westover beat Americus-Sumter in its final Region 1-AAA game, it gave Monroe the No. 2 seed in the upcoming region tournament at Westover next week.
“It means we have a guarantee to go to the state tournament,’’ Monroe coach Cheryl Cheeks said. “That’s the first time it’s happened in my five years as the coach. This is really great for our program.’’
DOUGHERTY GIRLS 65, WORTH COUNTY 29: Dougherty wrapped up the No. 4 seed in the Region 1-AAA tournament that starts next week with a romp. Five Lady Trojans scored in double figures: Amber Ward led the way with 15 points and Terrianna Martin, Jayla Hooper, Shawntal Byrd and Quanisha Gatlin all dropped in 10 points each.
Herald No. 3 Dougherty (17-5 and 7-5 in Region 1-AAA) plays at Westover on Thursday in the semifinal round of the tournament.