Monroe’s Jordan Tyson drives to the basket against Manchester on Saturday at the U-Save-It Classic at Albany High. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Struggling to score at times during the season, Monroe came out Saturday evening and knocked down shot after shot.
No one was bigger than Jamarcus Nunnally who buried three treys in the first quarter and helped his team jump out to a 22-9 lead over Manchester.
But the sizzling shooting quickly became a thing of the past as the Tornadoes squandered a big first-half lead before losing 67-65 to the Blue Devils during Day 2 of the U-Save-It Christmas Classic at Albany High.
“They gained the momentum; they got some steals and made us turn the ball over during the third and fourth quarter,” Monroe head coach Marquis Davis said. “They sped us up, and we could not stand up to it. It’s just our inexperience.”
Ahead 42-24 at halftime, the Tornadoes (4-4) found themselves on the wrong end of a 10-2 run to open the second half, prompting Davis to call a timeout to resettle his players. The game pause worked momentarily as the Tornadoes outscored the Blue Devils for the balance of the quarter.
But Manchester (5-1) had already established itself as the second half aggressor, and with just over three minutes to play in regulation the Blue Devils took the ball away from Monroe’s David Hamilton and dashed down to the other end of the court to tie the game at 58-58.
“Once again we did not come out to play the way we needed, so we had to readjust at halftime,” Manchester head coach Curtis Noble said. “We’re not a big team so we have to play the full court and really get after teams, and that’s what we did in the second half.”
For a brief moment Monroe looked as if it was going to hang on and pull out a close one. Deonte Young, who owned the glass with 17 rebounds, had a couple of timely putbacks down the stretch to keep the Tornadoes in it.
Nevertheless, Manchester retook the lead with 1:08 remaining in the contest. Jermaine Williams then hit two free throws to put the Blue Devils up four.
Nunnally, who finished with 20 points, nailed a 3-pointer with fewer than 10 seconds left to get his team within a point of tying, but the Tornadoes would get no closer.
“A lot of turnovers, that’s how they came back on us,” said Young, who had a game-high 27 points to go with his double-digit rebounds. “We just have to do better as far as not turning the ball over.”
Jordan Tyson added 11 points off the bench in a losing effort.
Hozell Campbell led the Blue Devils with 23 points. Quin Prather finished with 15 points, and Bobby Stevenson chipped in 13 points.