ALBANY — The Monroe boys basketball team does not have a standout player who can flip a switch and take over the game.
Instead the team relies on its committee of players to gradually chip away at its opponent.
This style of play was all too evident Friday night when the Tornadoes used each quarter to create more separation from Dougherty before beating the Trojans, 67-48, at Darton State College.
“Over the past five or six years I’ve had some talented players, but I think this is one of the most team-oriented group of guys I’ve had in my seven years here,” Monroe head coach Marquis Davis said. “They really play together as a team and I think it is because we don’t have that standout player.”
Lead by Trentavious Jackson, the Tornadoes (10-6) went to a full-court press early on that posed problems for Dougherty all game. The paint was virtually sealed off and, consequently, the Trojans had to settle for contested shots from the field.
“I just try to listen to the coaches, and they tell me which spots to be in or if I need to play the whole court,” said Jackson, who finished with 16 points. “The key is to keep moving and to be alert at all times.”
Monroe’s Napoleon Harris also finished with 16 points. Keith Hayes added 11 points, and David Hamilton and Jamarcus Nunnally each had eight points.
Despite several unforced turnovers, the Trojans were able to keep the game within reach early on thanks to Shunwhaski Wheeler’s 3-point shooting. But when the Tornadoes started to knock down 3-pointers of their own, Dougherty’s inability to score inside, coupled with the slew of turnovers, put the Trojans at a major disadvantage.
“I don’t think it was so much their interior defense that changed the complexion of the game as it was so many unforced turnovers,” Dougherty head coach Ty Hayes said. “We were just throwing the ball to the black team — that was the difference in the game.”
Hayes said the Trojans turned the ball over at least 25 times.
Ricardo Sloan scored 15 points for the Trojans, while Wheeler finished with 12 points and David Quimby contributed seven points. Charles Porter chipped in six points.
Up by 11 at halftime, the Tornadoes did not break the game open until the start of the fourth quarter when they went on a 10-0 run. With Jackson playing the passing lanes, Monroe got out in transition, putting up several fastbreak points.
Dougherty did manage to counter in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter with a string of steals, but by then it was too little, too late.
“This is the first game in a few where we did not have that intensity throughout the game,” Hayes said. “We cannot wait until the end to try to play like that. We have to come out from the start and play our game and do what we do best, which is take care of the basketball.”