LONOKE – A hard-to-believe low scoring semifinal ended Monticello’s state tournament run as the Billies fell 22-21 in overtime to Brookland Monday night at the Gina Cox Center at Lonoke High School.
“We had some chances, we just didn’t get the key shot or the key play when we needed to make it,” Monticello head coach Wayne Sherrer said. “In a game like this, that is what it comes down to.”
Brookland’s only points in overtime was a baseline layup by junior Patrick Hudson. It gave the Bearcats a 22-20 lead.
It would stay that way until Monticello senior Deshawn McGowan made one of two at the free throw line with 23 seconds left.
With 12 seconds left, Brookland senior Devon Newton was sent to the free throw line. He missed the front end of a one and one and it allowed Monticello a chance at winning the game. The Billies took three shots near the basket but missed all three as time expired.
“We had opportunities, we just didn’t make good of them,” Sherrer said.
Monticello was 6 of 35 from the floor in Monday’s loss.
“It was a tough defensive game and a low-possession game,” Sherrer said. “We got too hesitant on our offense.
“We got some shots that we were hesitant to take. In games like this, it makes kids play tighter.
“A play here and play there is what makes the difference.”
Monticello trailed the entire first quarter and didn’t take its first lead until junior JaRoderick Scruggs hit a basket inside, thanks to an assist from McGowan. It gave Monticello a 10-8 lead.
Sherrer said in games like these, there will be a bit of hesitation.
“That is what you really have to guard against,” Sherrer said. “In a low-possession game, people having trouble scoring on both sides, I think we let that get us tight.
“It is hard to tell how people are going to react in these situations. There is a lot of stake and they want it bad.”
McGowan came off the bench for Monticello and led the team with 12 points and 12 rebounds. He scored two points in the third quarter – the only points Monticello had then.
In the fourth quarter, Monticello took a two-point lead with 1:15 left in regulation thanks to a pair of free throws by McGowan. Brookland quickly answered with a layup by senior C.J. Henry to tie the game. It was his only points of the game.
The Bearcats went almost 20 minutes before making a field goal. Junior Reece Gramlin scored with less than 4 minutes left in the third quarter to end the drought and bring Brookland within two points.
Senior Chandler Thompson led the Bearcats with eight points, including a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter. Gramling contributed with seven points.
For Monticello, sophomore Deverick Franklin made a three-pointer in the fourth quarter for his only points of the game.
Brookland advances to play Lonoke in the 4A state championship.