The first weekend of the new year had to be marked on the calendar for the Monroe Tornadoes because both crosstown rivals Westover and Dougherty were coming to visit. And Monroe won the weekend. After beating Dougherty Friday night 71-66, the Golden Tornadoes knocked off Westover by a slightly different score - 73-68.
Monroe had opened the game with an early run that had them up 8-1 before the Patriots got rolling. The Tornado game plan obviously centered around getting the ball inside to Za’tarious Anderson and Karim Aqeel. The Tornadoes made easy baskets as they worked the ball inside. But once the Patriots got rolling they had pulled to within one - 30-29 at the end of the first half. The Patriots took over in the third quarter and actually led by seven points midway through the third, but the Tornadoes started coming back toward the end of the third and then the two teams went back and forth for almost the entire fourth quarter.
Things looked scary as both of those inside players that started the game for Monroe - Anderson and Aqeel were unavailable. Anderson was in foul trouble and Aqeel was injured blocking a shot in the fourth quarter. The scored was tied several times and the lead changed five times before the Tornadoes took over for good and Monroe sophomore Marius Ellis got loose on a fastbreak and slammed home the winning basket to give the Tornadoes a 71-66 lead as Monroe fans roared with excitement.
Aqeel led the Tornadoes with 16 points, Ellis added 12 for Tornadoes Kei’Chwan Hayes and Mathew Green scored eight each.
Michael Isler led all scorers with 22 points, Michael Cooper pumped in 13, and Jamie Pettway and Cameron Byrd contributed 10.