WHITE HALL — The White Hall boys earned first prize in the fourth quarter free-throw parade, but Monticello took home the top honor of best in show Tuesday night at White Hall High School.
The Bulldogs finished the final frame 16 for 19 from the foul line, but the Billies earned the 52-43 win.
Monticello (3-1) shot just 9 of 28 from the charity stripe in the fourth, but White Hall never really threatened to overcome the 18-point deficit (39-21) it faced to open the final quarter.
“We had some questionable decision-making,” Billies head coach Wayne Sherrer said. “And our free-throw shooting allowed them to stay in the game.”
White Hall (2-4) finished the fourth quarter with 22 points — one more than it totaled in the first three quarters — but it proved to be too little too late.
It’s a performance Bulldogs head coach Marc Stringer has seen too many times.
“For some reason the fourth quarter seems to be our best quarter,” he said. “I don’t know why we decide to start playing then.
“We need to do a better job of starting … but mentally we can’t get over that hump.”
Monticello’s D.J. Franklin got off to a hot start in the game’s opening quarter. The sophomore connected of four three-pointers and finished with 14 of his team’s 16 first-quarter points.
“He’s a good sophomore,” Sherrer said. “He got us off to a good start.
“He’s really a natural scorer and really got us going.”
Franklin’s hot hand cooled off for the rest of the game — although he still finished with a game-high 21 points — but the damage was already done.
“That No. 30 kid (Franklin) comes in and hits four straight threes,” Stringer said. “We need to do a better job of identifying and stopping a good shooter.
“I thought we did better in the second half — I don’t think he hit a three after halftime — but it’s something we’ve got to get corrected.”
White Hall, meanwhile, struggled to get anything going in the first three quarters. The Bulldogs had just 5 points at the end of the first quarter. And even with Tyler Pirson, who finished with a team-high 19 points, White Hall was being doubled up, 26-13, at halftime. Pirson knocked down three first-half treys.
But Franklin outscored White Hall by six points in the opening half.
“Our plan was to get them to play with us,” Stringer said. “We missed some shots we just got to make.
“But I’m proud of the way we played.
“That might be the best team we’ve played so far.”
Sherrer said he was pleased with how his defending 8-4A Conference championship team kept White Hall off-balance.
“We tried to be cognizant of not allowing them to spread us out,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we stayed in our gaps.
“We’re a young team, so that’s one of the things we’re trying to learn.”