MACON — Monroe thought it had shaken its playoff curse by getting out of the first round earlier this week.
Now, the hump seems to be Round 2.
The Herald No. 1 Tornadoes, who came into state with just four losses on the season, were dropped out of the GHSA Class AAAA state tournament Saturday night by Rutland, 64-58, on the road.
Herald Super 6er and Division I prospect Jabari McGhee, who Rutland was admittedly very worried about coming into the game, was held to just nine points.
Much of that had to do with the suffocating defense of Rutland’s Dallas Smith, who came into the contest with a game plan to stop McGhee, who was six inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than the Monroe superstar.
“I was expecting him to drive on me,” said Smith, who scored a team-high 17 points. “I thought he’d jump over me. I put my mind to guarding him. I wanted to keep him from going to the goal and let him shoot the jump shot.”
Darrien Anderson paced Monroe with 20 points, while Cortez Banks had 12.
Rutland held a 53-52 lead with four minutes remaining when Smith touch-passed an assist to Jalen Kirkland who converted a layup. On the ensuing Monroe possession, Smith deflected and entry pass intended for McGhee. Rutland missed a 3-point shot, but Smith rebounded the miss to put the Hurricanes up 57-52 — and they never looked back.
Monroe led, 27-23, at halftime after scoring five points in the final 15 seconds of both the first and second quarters.
Anderson, a senior guard, scored 17 points in the third quarter. He made three 3-pointers and did not miss from the field or the foul line.
But it wasn’t enough.
Monroe finishes 22-4.
Attempts by The Herald to reach Monroe coach Marquis Davis were unsuccessful.
GHSA Class A boys: Randolph-Clay pulls upset
HAWKINSVILLE — Randolph-Clay’s Corey Brown has been told all year his breakout moment was coming.
It happened Saturday night.
Brown scored a game-high 17 points — including five 3s — to pace the Class A, No. 13 seed Red Devils in the big road upset of No. 4 seed Hawkinsville in the first round of the state playoffs, 62-53.
“Man, Corey had such a good night. It was ridiculous. He was on fire,” R-C first-year boys coach Michael Hoffpauir said. “We’ve been pushing him all year to let it rip, and his big night showed up at just the right time. He hadn’t shot like that all year.”
Cornelius Bennett added 15 points, Ryan Wiggins added 10 and Herald Super 6er Gary McCrae was held somewhat in check with 12.
But then again, that was all part of the strategy, said Hoffpauir.
“Gary had a good night, even if all he had was 12. He was getting guys involved and we’ve been pushing all year for more than just him to get into double figures — and that’s what happened Saturday,” Hoffpauir said. “It was just a complete game from everyone.”
The Red Devils (17-11) now advance to face the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 5 seed Wilkinson County and No. 12 Treutlen.
GHSA Class AA girls: Pelham back in Elite 8
MCINTOSH — Looking to get back to the Elite 8, Pelham left no doubt Saturday night that — despite being a No. 2 seed — they’re one of the most dangerous teams in the state.
The Lady Hornets (26-4), who lost in overtime to Thomasville last week in the region finals and had to settle for a No. 2 seed, crushed No. 1 seed McIntosh Academy on Saturday, 63-46, in the Sweet 16 of the Class AA tournament.
“We knew it was going to be tough with a hostile environment, but we knew if we brought our A-game, we’d be fine,” said Pelham third-year coach Antonia Tookes, who has turned the program upside down and reached the state playoffs three straight seasons. “We just played hard from the beginning and never gave up.”
Herald Super 6er Briunna Freeman led the way with 23 points, followed by 20 from Hillary Williams and 15 from Timbreanna Hudson.
Pelham now must hit the road and do it again, this time taking on Region 3, No. 1 Laney on Tuesday.
Terrell Academy boys eliminated in GISA Class AA Elite 8, 58-47
MACON — Terrell Academy’s bounce-back season finally came to an end in Saturday’s GISA Class AA Elite 8, where the Eagles lost to First Presbyterian Christian, 58-47.
One year after winning just two games, Terrell Academy finished the season 13-13 overall and gave First Presbyterian all it could handle.
After falling behind by 16 points early in the second half, the Eagles cut First Presbyterian’s lead to single digits midway through the fourth quarter but couldn’t overtake the state’s No. 1 team in GISA Class AA.
Raleigh Carlson led Terrell Academy with 17 points, while Conor Walsh scored 12 and Alan Stewart added 11. Caleb Waters, a four-year member of the TAE basketball team, is the only senior for the Eagles.