Monroe point guard Jomekia Morine dribbles past Westover’s Danae Cheatham late in Friday’s Region 1-AAAA game in Westover’s Boston Garden. The Lady Tornadoes handled Westover’s full-court pressure and cruised to their seventh straight victory to open the season. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Monroe’s Key Key Price jumped up from the floor in haste, then went to the free throw line.
On the other end of the court, Westover girls coach Lewis Smith scowled, pointed his fingers, then threw his hands up in disgust.
Tempers flared Friday night in an early season Region 1-AAAA showdown at Westover’s Boston Garden. But in the end, Herald No. 1 Monroe ran away with a 54-31 victory, flexing its muscles and remaining atop the Region 1-AAAA girls standings.
Monroe threw a smothering defense at the Lady Patriots, limiting Herald No. 3 Westover to just one shot attempt on most of their trips down the floor. After a close first half, the Lady Tornadoes (7-0, 5-0 Region 1-AAAA) took control in the third quarter and never looked back.
“I think we did pretty good on defense which was a plus,” Monroe girls coach Cheryl Cheeks said. “They (Westover) got a little frustrated at the end which helped us out a little down the stretch.”
Lynsey Washington sank two of her three free throw attempts with just a second left in the third quarter to push Monroe’s lead to 33-24. Then Price scored on a nice feed inside from Cekeya Mack to make it 35-24.
That’s when things got testy. The Lady Patriots were whistled for the first of three technical fouls at the 6:43 mark of the fourth quarter. Price drilled a pair of free throws to make it 37-24.
But Westover rallied to trim the deficit back to single digits on a steal, then a free throw from Bryshea Jackson to make it 38-29 with 5:10 left.
However, Monroe used a 12-1 run over the final 3:58 to turn a close game into a rout.
There were four technicals fouls, including two on Smith, who was ejected at the 2:38 mark. Due to the Georgia High School Association rules, he will have to sit out the Lady Patriots’ game at Lee County tonight.
Smith praised Monroe’s defensive effort.
“Monroe did an outstanding job on defense (Friday),” he said. “They were able to keep our better scorers from scoring. We got rattled (in the fourth quarter) and things got worse. We were not able to press and create turnovers like we wanted to. But Monroe has a great team.”
Price finished with a game-high 24 points, while Mack added nine for Monroe. Jamekia Morine finished with eight. She and Mack were part of the Lady Tornadoes’ wall inside.
Westover (7-2, 2-2) has lost two straight after falling in overtime to Crisp County on Tuesday night. But the Lady Patriots gave Monroe all it could handle to start the game.
Tiana Campbell buried a jumper from the right wing to give Westover a 9-4 lead with 2:03 left in the first quarter, and the Lady Pats led 10-9 heading into the second quarter. But each time Westover got a lead, Monroe stormed right back.
Achanti Layfield led Westover with 10 points, while Kayla Howard added nine.
“Westover High School has a great team, and we expected the lead to change,” Cheeks said. “Our game plan was to box out because they are more physical than we are. We wanted to make sure they only got one shot attempt.”