Monroe’s Tim White drives past Randolph-Clay’s Ryan Wiggins on Saturday. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CUTHBERT — If you think you have read this story before, it’s because you have.
It goes something like this: Monroe is in a battle and then Wal-Mart (AKA Hakeem Porter) comes off the bench, gives the Tornadoes a spark and then everything gets back to normal for the Nadas, who have been the No. 1 team in The Herald Fab 5 Poll since the beginning of the season.
That won’t change after Saturday’s impressive 73-48 win against Randolph-Clay on the road, where Monroe started slow and finished strong.
Herald No. 3 Randolph-Clay (7-7) gave Monroe all it wanted early and jumped out to a quick 9-3 lead and led 12-7 going into the second quarter.
Then the storm came.
“It was about halfway into the second quarter when I felt we got our momentum,’’ said Monroe guard Darrian Anderson, who ran the offense and finished with 10 points. “Hakeem came into the game and gave us a lift. He’s the X-factor. He comes in and gives us some life. He brings so much energy and he’s talking and getting everybody up.’’
Porter, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound Division I offensive lineman prospect, has been a huge (no pun intended) factor for Monroe this season, coming off the bench and giving the Tornadoes big minutes and big moments. He was the spark on Saturday, and it seemed the entire team caught fire.
Nine different players scored for Monroe and four ended up with double figures. Porter led the scoring with 12 points. Herald Super 6er Jabari McGhee and Tim White each scored 11 points, and Anderson dropped in 10, including a pair of 3s. The bench came through as Cortez Banks (6 points), Johnterrious Wallace (5 points) and Kevin Williams (2 points) all got into the act.
“We had the opportunity to play a lot of guys,’’ said Monroe coach Marquis Davis, whose team is now 12-2 with both losses coming at the Hoop In Drive Tournament in Atlanta, where Monroe fell by three points to Class AAAAAA Luella and by three points to South Florida power Oakland Park Northeast. The Tornadoes have had back-to-back one-sided wins since and meet Worth County on Friday before facing rival Westover on Saturday night in the Civic Center.
Monroe took a 28-27 lead to halftime and took control in the second half with balanced scoring all over the court.
“I thought we came out a little flat,’’ Davis said. “But we had a good effort in the second, third and fourth quarters. We played well and played a lot of guys. That’s what we want to do. They work hard in practice, and we want to give them opportunities to play.’’
Monroe has had these kinds of games, and the players appreciate it.
“We love these games when everybody gets playing time,” Anderson said.
Porter said it was good for everyone.
“It feels good to be able to take some stress off the starters,’’ he said. “It’s a real good night when our bench players get to score some points.’’
Randolph-Clay was led by Herald Super 6er Gary McCrae (14 points), Cornelius Bennett (13 points) and Kwymente Parker (13 points).