Monroe’s Herald Super 6er Key Key Price, right, puts up a shot over Americus-Sumter’s Keshundra Price in Thursday’s region semifinal. (email@example.com)
ALBANY — Monroe’s Lady Tornadoes used a monster, fourth-quarter outburst to advance to the Region 1-AAAA girls championship game.
Monroe went on a 15-1 run in the fourth to put away Americus-Sumter, 71-58, on Thursday in the semifinals of the region tournament to move on to today’s region title game against Dougherty High, which knocked off Cairo earlier in the semis.
“Our goal is to come out of the region number one,” Monroe head coach Cheryl Cheeks said afterward. “We just need to come out and play smart and play hard.”
The Lady Panthers trailed for most of the night and were down by as many as 15 in the second half before an 8-0 run to end the third quarter cut the lead to 48-41 on Kayla Bowens’ three at the buzzer.
Monroe responded, and Cedriana Waters was one of the main culprits, scoring 18 in the win to lead the Lady Tornadoes (20-6). Americus got as close as 50-44 on A’Dasjah Mercer’s layup with 7:20 to play before Monroe took off an their fourth-quarter run. Senior Devone Anduze scored six of her 10 points during the 15-1 run to seal it.
Mercer led Americus-Sumter (17-7) with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“When we started to try to run with them, I think we lost our focus,” Lady Panthers head coach Evelyn Wright said. “It looked like we got tired in the second half.”
Bowens added 17 points and two steals in the loss for the Lady Panthers, who face Cairo today to determine the third and fourth seeds from Region 1-AAAA.
Monroe, which split with Dougherty during the regular season, also got 14 points from Herald Super 6er Key Key Price and 10 from Anduze.
“You always want to play the best to find out who the best is,” Cheeks said of the rubber match with Dougherty.
MONROE BOYS HOLD OFF ALBANY:
ALBANY – Albany High just wouldn’t let it die. Monroe was obliged to let the Indians have a heartbeat.
Albany, which trailed by 21 points early in the third quarter, cut the Tornadoes' lead to one in the fourth but couldn’t find a way over the hump in a 65-58 Monroe win in the semifinals of the Region 1-AAAA tournament Thursday night.
“That just sums up Monroe basketball right now,” Tornadoes head coach Marquis Davis said. “We make it interesting. We gave away a 20-point lead, and we can’t do that this time of year.”
The win sets up Round 4 between Monroe and Westover today at 8:30 p.m. at the Tornadoes’ gym for the No. 1 seed out of Region 1-AAAA heading into state.
“I know Westover will be ready,” said Davis, whose team has beaten Westover in the first three meetings this year. “If we come to play, we’ll be fine.”
Monroe was far from fine at the free throw line Thursday against Albany, which decided to foul and foul some more in the fourth quarter to try to extend the game. It worked.
“You’ve got to lengthen the game and you’ve got to hope for some misses,” Indians head coach Archie Chatmon said.
Albany (13-12) sent the Tornadoes to the free throw line for 27 foul shots in the fourth quarter alone after trailing 39-18 with 6:21 left in the third before going on a 14-1 run to slice the lead to 46-38 to open the final period.
Monroe (21-4) made just 15 of 27 at the line in the fourth but found a way with both teams in foul trouble. Albany pulled to within one at 52-51 on Malik Dungee-Ali’s two free throws with 4:27 left.
“Five starters sat most of the second quarter (with fouls),” said Chatmon, whose team led 14-12 after one quarter before scoring just four points in the second quarter. “The amount of time they sat out because we’re trying to save fouls ended up hurting us. A coach always second guesses and maybe I let them get out too far ahead.”
The early lead, 35-18 at halftime, was enough for Monroe to hang on even though the Tornadoes had two players foul out in the fourth, while Albany saw three sit with five fouls, including one of its leading scorers, Tyler Cheese, who finished with nine points.
Monroe Super 6er Jabari McGhee scored 13 points in the second quarter alone and finished with a game-high 24, while Hakeem Porter added 10.
Albany was led by Josh Anderson’s 16 points.
“Survival of the fittest,” Davis said. “We need the one seed. The region we’re matched up with is tough, man. Who knows who we’ll be matched up with?”
The Indians will now play Crisp County at 5:30 p.m. today at Monroe to determine the third and fourth state seeds. Eagles Landing, the probable No. 1 seed and one of the best teams in the state, awaits the No. 4 seed from Region 1-AAAA in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.