Shenique Young and the Lady Tornadoes made an impressive run to the GHSA Class AAA State Tournament's Elite 8 round, but there they met No. 1-ranked Washington County, which knocked off Monroe on Saturday and won its 62-game in a row to advance to next week's Final Four in Macon.
MILLEDGEVILLE — After a red-hot start and a splash of Gray, the second-quarter blues brought an end to the Monroe girls basketball team’s colorful postseason.
The Lady Tornadoes raced to a four-point lead after one quarter Saturday before standout Allisha Gray got untracked and led Washington County to a 58-46 victory in the GHSA Class AAA Elite 8 round at Georgia College’s Centennial Center.
Gray scored 32 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and recorded seven blocks as the No. 1-ranked Lady Golden Hawks (30-0) extended their winning streak to 62 games.
The upset-minded Lady Tornadoes (20-9), however, didn’t seem fazed by their counterparts in the first quarter.
“We weren’t intimidated,” Monroe head coach Cheryl Cheeks said. “Our gameplan was to play good defense and play hard at all times.”
Monroe streaked to a 7-3 lead less than six minutes into the contest behind Keshondra “KeyKey” Price, who scored a team-high 15 points, along with Sheniqua Young (14 points) and Darone Anduze (12 points).
“We came out with intensity,” said Young, a Herald Super 6er. “We came out on a mission to not be defeated.”
After some initial ball-handling woes, Monroe handled Washington County’s full-court press admirably, creating fast break opportunities. Multiple missed layups, however, didn’t allow the Lady Tornadoes to approach a double-digit lead in the opening stanza.
That failure to capitalize would haunt the Lady Tornadoes in the second quarter.
Gray found her rhythm and Washington County took the lead for good in the midst of a 7-0 run to start the second quarter. The Lady Golden Hawks would go on to outscore Monroe, 22-5, in the quarter.
“I just felt like we were always two steps from where we should have been,” Anduze said. “I think that really got us behind and gave them the lead.”
Cheeks said she considered calling a timeout to try and cool the Lady Golden Hawks, especially Gray.
“We had some unforced turnovers and weren’t blocking out, but I decided to let these ladies play through it,” Cheeks said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to recover from that.”
Young made four 3-pointers, including one to cap Monroe’s 7-1 run midway through the fourth, but the deficit was simply too much to overcome.
Washington County head coach Sug Parker said it was probably the worst his team had played this season. He pointed to the Lady Golden Hawks’ miserable 13-for-35 shooting from the free-throw line and an even frostier 1-for-15 performance from beyond the arc.
But it was still good enough to end Monroe’s postseason run. The Lady Tornadoes won six of their last eight games in reaching the Elite Eight. Young, a senior, said she hopes next year’s team will be inspired by this year’s run.
“Hopefully, the freshmen, sophomores and juniors on this team come play harder next season and build on what we did to get (to the Elite Eight),” Young said. “The journey goes on.”