Monroe Super 6er Key Key Price, left, drives past Riverdale’s Angel Cooper during the Lady Tornadoes’ GHSA Class AAAA state playoff opener Tuesday in Albany. Price led Monroe into the second round with a game-high 23 points in the 80-61 victory. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — They’re young, but the exuberance is off the charts.
Monroe’s Lady Tornadoes rolled through the first round of the GHSA Class AAAA girls’ state playoffs Tuesday with an impressive 80-61 win against Riverdale.
Monroe head coach Cheryl Cheeks played all eight of her freshmen — and more than half played early and often. The two usual suspects, despite being underclassmen, led the way. Sophomore and Herald Super 6er Key Key Price scored 23 in the win and freshman Jomekia Morine added 17 in the first-round victory. Morine, for one, doesn’t mind playing with all the youngsters.
“I’m a freshman, so (it’s fun),” she said. “The seniors encourage us and tell us what to do.”
Added Cheeks, “(The freshmen) aren’t young any more. We’re deep into the season now.”
Monroe will return home either Friday or Saturday to play Region 3-AAAA No. 2 seed Howard High out of Macon. The Lady Huskies knocked off Hepzibah in the first round Tuesday.
The Lady Tornadoes (22-6) blew out to a 16-1 lead after Riverdale missed its first seven shots from the field and the first four at the free throw line. The Lady Raiders went 14 for 36 at the foul line on the night.
“You always want to play at home,” Cheeks said. “We played with a lot of intensity, but we weren’t able to sustain it for four quarters. That was the only problem.”
Riverdale (15-14, Region 4-AAAA’s No. 4 seed) couldn’t solve Monroe’s press defense early, but calmed things down and got as close as 33-22 with 4:57 left before half on De’Ana Turner’s layup. Turner finished with a game high 24 points, but picked up a technical foul and played the majority of the second half with four fouls.
“We knew about her, but we still didn’t defend her,” Cheeks said of Turner.
Monroe’s lead ballooned to 48-29 at the half. The Lady Raiders had one last push left in the fourth quarter after another Turner lay-in cut the Lady Tornadoes’ lead to 72-52 with 4:03 to play, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Angel Cooper added 15 points in the loss, ending Riverdale’s season in the first round. Davone Anduze chipped in 11 points for Monroe, which reached the Elite 8 last season playing on the road in the playoffs. This season their young guns will be able to do it at home in the Sweet 16.
What should the Lady Tornadoes expect in round 2?
“More competition,” Morine said.