AMERICUS — Monroe kept its season alive Monday in the opening round of the Region 1-AAAA tournament, pulling away in the second half to hand Dougherty a season-ending 61-38 defeat.
The No. 5 seed Tornadoes advance to play No. 4 Albany High in the region quarterfinals today at 5:30 p.m. with the winner punching a ticket to the Class AAAA state playoffs and the loser going home.
Monroe lost a pair of close games to Albany in the regular season, including a 69-63 setback on Friday, and Indians coach Archie Chatmon expects another nail-biter today.
“I expect the same kind of game,” he said. “We are going to have to play awfully well. It’s important that we get off to a good start.”
On Monday, the Tornadoes led by just five points at halftime but broke it open in the second half and outscored the Trojans, 35-17, in the final two quarters.
Deonte Young led Monroe with 18 points, while teammate Jamarcus Nunnally added 16. Dougherty’s top scorer was David Quimby, who scored 13 points.
It marked the end of a rollercoaster season for the Trojans, who were caught off guard by coach Donald Poole’s sudden retirement on New Year’s Eve. Longtime assistant Ty Hayes took over the program and went 0-11 in his two months as head coach, but Hayes said he still enjoyed his first head-coaching experience despite the situation he inherited.
“This has been the most fun I have had in a long time,” said Hayes, who also coaches Dougherty’s baseball and softball teams. “I first want to thank (Principle Robert McIntosh and Athletic Director Jerome Register) for even allowing me this opportunity. It was a great experience, and I enjoyed it. The guys had fun, and that’s what it is all about.
“They could have easily broken up or quit or got down on themselves, but the guys and myself had a lot of fun and they played their hearts out. I’m so proud of them. Even (Monday) they didn’t give up. They fought and fought and fought.”
Hayes, who is currently the basketball coach in an interim role, said he would like the opportunity to coach again next season and have a full summer and season to work with the program.
“My dream has always been to become a head basketball coach. That’s my dream,” Hayes said. “I want to be back next year, and the guys want me back.”
AMERICUS-SUMTER GIRLS 51, WORTH COUNTY 40: The No. 8 seed Lady Rams hung with No. 5 Americus-Sumter for much of the game and even pulled to within six points in the fourth quarter, but the host Lady Panthers hung on to advance to today’s quarterfinals against No. 4 Dougherty.
Americus’ Timia Swanson led all scorers with 20 points, and teammate Amber Hicks added 10 points. The top scorers for Worth County were Lindsey Toneygay (12), Andrea Davis (10), Andrea Williams (8) and Brianna Farley (8).
CAIRO GIRLS 59, ALBANY HIGH 18: The No. 7 seed Squaws ran out of gas late in Monday’s opening-round game against Cairo as the No. 6 Lady Syrupmakers outscored Albany 36-8 in the second half to advance to today’s quarterfinals against No. 3 Westover.
China Marcus scored six points to lead Albany, while Alondra Calhoun added five points. The Squaws finished the season with one win — a victory Jan. 28 against Worth County, which kept Albany High from falling into the region’s last seed.
WEBSTER COUNTY BOYS 59, MILLER COUNTY 52: Playing in their fourth game since head coach Timothy Martin suffered a heart attack and stepped away from his duties for the rest of the season, the No. 8 seed Pirates went toe-to-toe with No. 9 Webster County before falling in the final minutes.
Down 43-42 with four minutes left, Miller County saw Webster County pull away down the stretch and advance to today’s game against Seminole County.
The Pirates (4-15) were led by Antrayves Benton (12 points), Jimmy Cooper (10), J.J. George (8) and Rod Williams (8).
The Pirates were coached by former girls coach and boys assistant Nate George for the final three games of the regular season after Martin suffered a heart attack hours before a Jan. 25 game against Randolph-Clay. Martin underwent a quadruple bypass surgery on Feb. 2 and said he has recovered tremendously in the past week.
SEMINOLE COUNTY GIRLS 56, BAKER COUNTY 38: Shymeshia Hopkins scored 17 points to lead the No. 7 seed Lady Indians, who advanced to play No. 2 Mitchell County at 7 p.m. today.
Seminole County trailed No. 10 Baker County by four points at halftime but outscored the Lady Bears 16-8 in the third quarter and 22-8 in the fourth quarter to pull away.
Also scoring in double figures for Seminole County was Kerra Shirley and Dejah Martin with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Brittany Ware scored 13 points to lead Baker County.
CALHOUN COUNTY GIRLS 35, STEWART COUNTY 31: The No. 8 seed Lady Cougars led the whole way Monday against Stewart to advance into today’s quarterfinals against No. 1 Randolph-Clay.
Final stats weren’t provided for either team as Calhoun County improved to 7-16 and No. 9 Stewart County fell to 6-19.