‘Out-of-sync’ Billies avoid 8-4A disaster
Good teams deal with adversity the best way they know how. Great teams overcome it.
With two starters on the bench—one because of injuries and the other because of a disciplinary problem—plus one of its top reserves also sidelined with injuries, defending Class 4A state champion Monticello was “up against it” when Dollarway came calling Tuesday night.
The Billies found a way to keep their 4A, District 8 record unscathed, though, with a 60-50 win over the Cardinals, who had also entered the contest undefeated in 8-4A. Monticello improved to 13-1 on the season, with a trip to Star City looming on the horizon Friday.
That short trip north and a visit from Dumas next Tuesday will mark the halfway point toward Monticello’s quest to defend its 4A South Region crown in late February. Just the two senior teams will journey to Star City Friday for a 5:30 p.m. tip, while all four Monticello teams (junior girls, junior boys, senior girls and senior boys) host the Bobcats next Tuesday, starting at 4 p.m.
Against Dollarway, until 6 minutes, 50 seconds remained in the second quarter, there had been more fouls called that points scored. All told, there were whistles for 46 infractions; three players fouled out of the 32-minute game and there were two technical fouls called.
“With that being said,” longtime Monticello coach Wayne Sherrer noted, “both teams were horrific at the free-throw line. I know we were. We missed four right off the bat. We just couldn’t find any rhythm at all. People don’t realize that but that was really a lot of our problems; we were just out of sync. I’m happy to get out with that win because I knew it was going to be difficult.”
Thanks to a fairly strong second half at the charity stripe, the hosts finished a respectable 18-for-26 at the free-throw line while Dollarway shot just 12-for-25. The fouls were pretty much evenly divided; 21 were called on the Billies and 25 on the Cardinals.
Uncharacteristically, Monticello managed to put up just nine points in the first eight minutes. Dollarway was worse, scoring only six. It really wasn’t until the final period that both teams finally showed what a rivalry this matchup could become—with the Billies outscoring the Cardinals 27-26.
Until that quarter, though, fans in attendance must have been wondering if they were watching a junior varsity game or a contest between two of the top teams on all of 4A. Seniors D.J. Franklin and Tyree Nolen were the only Billies able to crack the 10-point barrier; Franklin led Monticello in scoring with 19 points (none in the first quarter) and Nolen added 13.
“It wasn’t pretty but a win is a win,” Sherrer said. “We really didn’t have a four (power forward position). We just had to try and plug some people into that spot. It was a piecemeal deal because of injuries and discipline issues. I knew it was going to be a fight because we had no continuity at all.”
Last Friday, it was a totally different scenario when Monticello hosted Crossett. Running out to an 18-5 advantage after the first period, the Billies simply toyed with the hapless Eagles before settling for a 40-point win, 64-24.
“It was alright,” Sherrer said after the Crossett contest. “It’s always good to get a win. We played okay; we had a little energy and it’s always good to get to play everybody.”
Eleven of the players at Sherrer’s disposal against the Eagles got into the scoring column. Franklin and Nolen again were the leaders, scoring 12 and 11 points respectively. Junior Saniyass Brown netted seven points in his first game back with this year’s team while a trio of Billies—sophomore Devario Ballard and juniors Luke Reginelli and Xavier Robinson—chipped in with six points apiece.
The most points Monticello allowed Crossett in any period was eight in the third quarter, and the Billies netted 23 points themselves in that period. A running clock was instituted in the fourth quarter because of the 30-point-lead mercy rule, although it could have started much sooner.