For his 25th season of coaching Monticello boys basketball, Wayne Sherrer helped the Billies make a big splash in the 8-4A Conference.
Their first year in the league went perfectly, to say the least. Overall, they came within two victories of matching the single-season high under the coach.
“We thought we were capable of having a really good season,” said Sherrer, the Southeast Arkansas Coach of the Year in boys basketball.
“It’s a funny thing. You have to be good enough and have a few bounces go your way. I thought we were good enough. We didn’t get a few plays or get a few baskets there. It’s just a part of it.
The bounces actually came aplenty during the season, as Monticello built a 26-4 record, including a 14-0 mark in the 8-4A. The Billies also finished second in the 4A South Region and reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament, where they bowed out to eventual champion Pottsville in double overtime, 56-54.
But it had been years since Monticello had as much success in basketball. The Billies last won a conference championship in 1998, and their 26 victories was the most they’ve had in one season since then.
“In high school, sometimes it’s cycles,” Sherrer said. “We had gone for years without any size. A lot of two-sport kids were always 5-10 or 5-11. We had no size. But then we hit a cycle where we had kids who were predominantly basketball players with a little size, and it’s just a cycle.
“You can play football. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you’ve really got to love (basketball) to get in there in the summer and put extra time into it, and this group was able to do that.”
Only one Monticello player — senior guard Torry Butler — finished the season averaging double-figure scoring, but the Billies were balanced in their offense.
Senior point guard Devon Jackson was an all-around talent, averaging five assists and six rebounds along with eight points per game. Sophomore guard Dontavia Clary chipped in seven points a game.
“Probably the irreplaceable part is Devon Jackson,” Sherrer said. “He was kind of the heart and soul in terms of our intensity. He’s tough at guarding people. He made sure everybody else played hard. He’s probably the one we’ll have the hardest time replacing. Looking at the stat sheet, you wouldn’t think that. But he did a lot of intangibles, things that don’t show up on stat sheet.”