Monroe County invades “The Swamp” and leaves with 50-45 victory
Monroe County coach Clifton Hamilton was not particularly pleased with the effort that his team gave in the first half at Greenwood.
But the Lady Falcons would quickly erase a deficit that was as large as 11 points during the second quarter, and Monroe County held off a late Lady Gator rally to escape “The Swamp” with a 50-45 victory on Tuesday night.
“The first half we didn’t come out to play; it’s as simple as that,” Monroe County head coach Clifton Hamilton said. “We didn’t make plays and we made things way too easy on Greenwood. At halftime I challenged my girls to step up: to take away their easy shots and make them work for everything. Then on the offensive end, just be aggressive, attack the rim and have confidence in your shot. I thought they stepped up in the second half and got the job done.”
Monroe County (14-11) led 40-37 before Greenwood senior Abigail Turley netted a 3-pointer from the right wing to tie the game at 40-all. Monroe County senior Mahala Rich then came down and nailed two free throws to give the Lady Falcons a 42-40 lead with 1:54 left in regulation.
Haley Gordon found the bottom of the net on a 3-pointer to propel the Lady Gators back in front 43-42 before Monroe County junior Grace Turner hit a free throw to tie it back up with 1:17 left.
Greenwood senior Riley Hartis answered right back with two free throws to give Greenwood a 45-43 lead with 57 seconds left, but the Lady Gators would be outscored 7-0 in the final minute—a steal by Alyana Hodges of Monroe County and the final two free throws by Malila Myatt being the nail in the coffin for the Lady Gators.
Greenwood (11-15) had taken control of the game early with a 7-0 lead, and the Lady Gators held a 24-14 advantage late in the first half.
The eighth grader Myatt then stepped up big time for the Lady Falcons, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers just before halftime to cut the deficit to four going into the locker room.
“(The shots) were crucial,” Hamilton said. “Without those we come in the locker room down 10 so it’s a bigger mountain to climb. I told her right before that ‘either you shoot with confidence, or you sit by me.’ She hit those two big shots, and I’m proud of her.”
The Lady Falcons came out of the locker room and went on a 7-0 run to take a three-point lead thanks to the efforts inside the paint by Hodges, who scored six of the Lady Falcons’ seven points to start the second half and finished with eight rebounds on the night.
“I felt like in the second half she was the spark in us taking the lead,” Hamilton said. “She came out and she absolutely went after the boards. She got some offensive rebounds, some putbacks and created some foul trouble, and that was the spark we needed.”
Ashley Gearlds led Monroe County in the win with 14 points while Hodges and Myatt added 10. Turner finished with seven points for the Lady Falcons.
Jacqueline Jackson and Hartis chipped in 12 points apiece for the Lady Gators—who will close out the regular season with a game at Logan County and at home versus Edmonson Conty before hosting Warren Central in the first round of the 14th District Tournament on Monday night.
Meanwhile Monroe County will close out the regular season at Warren East before playing Barren County in the first round of the 15th District Tournament on Monday night at Glasgow.