It was a case of double your pleasure, double your fun for Jontavious Carter and the Crisp County boys team Friday night as Carter finished with 17 points in the Cougars’ region title victory against Monroe, marking the first in school history for Crisp. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Crisp County coach Terry Smith stood in the middle of Westover’s Boston Garden holding more than just the Region 1-AAA trophy.
He was clutching history.
“The motivation was to make history,” said Smith after his Cougars beat Monroe, 63-49, to win their first region title in school history. “That was their motivation all year and we did it.”
It’s not the first boys basketball trophy to make it into Crisp’s trophy case, but Cougars senior D.J. Jackson knows right where it belongs.
“Front and center,” he said. “It feels great. It’s all we wanted.”
One night after beating Westover in the region semifinals for the second year in a row, the No. 3 seed Cougars (18-9) came out with unmatched energy. Crisp lost to Monroe in last year’s championship game and was swept by the Tornadoes in the regular season, but Smith knew his Cougars weren’t about to let another chance at making history slip away.
“Last year we beat Westover in the semifinal, and we were so emotionally high and I think it took away from us in the championship game,” Smith said. “I told somebody (Thursday) night that we would be ready to play (Friday night). I could see it in their eyes. They were ready.”
The No. 1 seed Tornadoes had six players foul out, including Jabari McGhee, the hero of Thursday night’s semifinal game against Dougherty when he grabbed an offensive rebound off a Daniel House missed shot and dunked it as time expired to give Monroe the win and send it to the title game.
The 6-foot-6 McGhee had a nearly identical play Friday night when House missed a drive and he grabbed the rebound and threw it down. Only this time McGhee slapped the backboard on the way down, was whistled for a technical foul and subsequently fouled out of the game.
It was just that kind of night for the Tornadoes.
“Crisp played a very good game,” said Monroe coach Marquis Davis, who also got a technical foul. “I’m not going to take anything away from them. I thought they had a lot of fight and came out and played really well. I thought we made some mental mistakes, but we played a tough game (Thursday) night and had to turn around and play another tough game. And I don’t like to talk too much about officiating, but I don’t think it was good.”
The teams traded baskets in the first quarter, but then Crisp County started to pull away in the second quarter.
Crisp increased its lead to 44-30 at the end of the third quarter and then put the game away in the final eight minutes.
Javoris Cooks led the Cougars with 18 points, while Jackson and Jontavious Carter each scored 17. McGhee led Monroe with 17 points, while House added eight.
The region title was a dream they had for decades in Cordele, but Smith insists the Cougars aren’t done yet.
“We’re in awe right now, but the ultimate goal is to play for the state championship,” Smith said.