BURKESVILLE — While Cumberland County made an admirable run in the fourth quarter, Monroe County held on for the 76-69 victory in the semifinals of the Fourth Region Class “A” Tournament.
The Falcons actually started out the game down 17-6 in the first quarter. However, Monroe County went on a 13-0 run to take the lead, which they would only surrender one more time in the game.
“I was surprised at how we did there handling it early,” coach Ashley Geralds said. “We are an inexperienced team in this situation. This group hasn’t been here before. We were probably a little juiced up, but then we settled down and got ourselves going. It looked rough early, but I was pleased with how we battled back.”
It was Kale Hagan who once again led the Falcons. He scored a game-high 22 points after scoring a team high in Monroe County’s last game against Russellville in the first round.
Hagan has been on an offensive tear of late as this is the fourth-straight game he has led the Falcons in scoring.
“I give credit to my teammates,” Hagan said. “They are finding me in the open gaps, and they are giving me the ball when I need it. This is just an awesome win for us. Hats off to Cumberland because they played great tonight.”
Hagan wasn’t the only player who had a positive night for Monroe County. Five Falcons total got into double digits as Grayson Rich was behind Hagan with 16 points, Jholdi Brooks scored 14 points, Curtis Petett added 11 of his own, and Tucker Glass notched 10 points.
“They chased Grayson tonight,” Geralds said. “When you have someone who is going to do that, you have to have guys step up. The good thing was that we made some threes — probably the most we have made all year. We pounded it inside also.”
One of the most pivotal moments in the game came near the start of the fourth quarter when Grayson Rich made a tough layup and was fouled in the process.
A Cumberland County player was called for a technical foul afterwards, which led to Rich hitting both technical free throws plus a third free throw for the shooting foul call. Altogether, it was a huge five-point play for Rich, which swung momentum in the ball game.
Monroe County would go on to finish the game on a 7-1 run to slam the door shut on the Panthers as the Falcons hit their free throws in the last minute of the game.
Possibly the biggest key to the game was the rebounding of Hagan and Petett who were able to keep the region’s leading rebounder (the Cumberland County’s Landon Basham) consistently off the boards.
Geralds’ team now finds themselves in very unfamiliar territory— the Class “A” Regional Championship, which will be against Metcalfe County on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Burkesville.
“Obviously being in the finals is huge,” Geralds said. “They are going to be excited, but I’m more worried about controlling our emotion and not getting too high or too tight. I thought at times tonight we got a little tight. It’s going to be a great basketball game. I can see it being a possession-by-possession basketball game. Hopefully, we can execute a little better than they can and pull it out.”
“It will be a huge game for us,” Hagan said. “Metcalfe played a heck of a game against Clinton County, and we got to bring it to win.”