MONTICELLO — Monticello gave up six first-quarter points to Rison, and that was the most points the Billies allowed in any quarter.
Monticello shut out Rison in the second quarter, and the Billies gave up only five points each in the third and fourth.
The defensive effort helped Monticello dominate the entire way as it opened the Commercial Bank SEARK Holiday Tournament with a 61-16 win over Rison on Friday night at Monticello High School.
“I thought we played with good energy,” said Billies (7-2) head coach Wayne Sherrer. “They don’t have as many good ball-handlers, so they maybe didn’t challenge us with dribble penetration.”
Even with the impressive defensive performance, Sherrer still said that’s the area his team still needs to improve.
“We’ve still got to get better defensively,” he said. “We know we’ll have to work on that.”
Sherrer said it came down to playing better total team defense.
“Having good defensive awareness and having good help defense,” he said of some of the keys. “Really it just comes down to playing good, team defense.”
Monticello led 19-6 after the first quarter before outscoring Rison (1-2) 23-0 in the second. The Billies outscored the Wildcats 14-5 in the third, and the teams both managed just five points in the fourth.
“We didn’t run our offense at all,” said Rison head coach Fred Hauk. “I mean they played really good defense, but bottom line, if you don’t run your offense, you don’t score.
“It’s as simple as that.”
Hauk said he thought his defense played well when they forced the Billies into a half-court game.
“The defense wasn’t bad,” he said. “We did pretty well when we made them work for in the half-court.
“But once they started fast-breaking, that’s where they got all their points.”
Monticello had three players — D.J. Franklin, Chris Robertson and Dontavia Clary — finish with 10 points to lead a balanced scoring effort.
The Billies thrived in the open court, but Sherrer would like to see his team improve its half-court game.
“We’re just trying to develop some chemistry and continuity,” he said. “With the athletes we have, it’s probably better for us to play a full-court game.
“But we need to get better trying to play half-court, because we need to be able to do it all.
“It’s just another step in the process.”
Rison will play Hamburg, which lost to Drew Central, at 2:25 p.m. on Monday in the consolation final. Monticello will take on Little Rock Central, which had a bye, at 8 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals.
Even though the game will bring a big step up in competition, Sherrer said the key for his team is still the same.
“It starts with execution,” he said. “The competition will be different.
“But it still starts with execution.”