In a battle of unbeaten teams, from different states, it was the Monroe City girls’ basketball team that came out on top Monday night. The Lady Panthers beat Illinois’ Carrollton 46-32 at John Wood Community College’s Rumble on the River.
“We played good,” Monroe City coach Cody Leonard said. “Defensively we did exactly what we wanted to do against them. They have kind of been on a role here scoring the basketball, but we knew we could play a little bit better defense than the teams they were doing that to.”
Monroe City was led by senior Carly Spalding who led all scorers with 19 points, 12 of which came in the second half.
“I am not used to this big court,” Spalding said. “It had a lot to do with the steals and just driving in a lot because of (Carrollton’s) speed.”
Carrollton coach Geoff Driskill was not pleased with his teams play.
“What did we do right the whole night offensively,” Driskill asked. “Even when we got looks, we never finished the looks. We threw the ball away over and over again. It was just not a very good performance.”
Monroe City and Carrollton were separated by just two points at the end of end of the first quarter, but the game was never that close again. A 12-2 run by the Lady Panthers in the second quarter sealed the Lady Hawks’ fate as Monroe City went into the intermission leading Carrollton 20-8.
“We knew they were good and could shoot,” Spalding said. “We had to come out hard and play our defensive game and we did.”
Rachel Williams, a sophomore, had Carrollton’s points in the second quarter on a pair of free throws.
“Shots didn’t fall and sometimes the (defense) was off,” Williams said. “That was a tough team and everybody didn’t seem to click together (for us) tonight,”
After being held to eight points in the first half, Carrollton found its offense in the second half. The Lady Hawks put up nine points, but it wasn’t enough to cut into Monroe City’s lead.
The Lady Panthers (9-0) outscored Carrollton 13-9 to extend its lead. The Lady Panthers, leading 31-16, were a missed free throw shy of doubling up the Lady Hawks going into the final eight minutes.
“We tried to get a few more steals,” Williams said. “But that ended up just being more fouls. That sent them to the line and they made their free throws.”
The Lady Hawks finally cut into Monroe City’s lead in the fourth quarter. Carrollton outscored the Lady Panthers 15-13, but the damage was already done.
Earlier this season, Carrollton (9-1) senior Adele Cook tied the Illinois record for most three-pointers in a game with 12 and then broke the record last week when she hit 13 treys against Griggsville-Perry. Monday night, Cook was held scoreless.
“I was on her to pretty much face guard her,” Spalding said. “Not really face guard, but I couldn’t help out or anything. I could’t let her get wide open because we knew she was going to be able to shoot.”
Leonard said his team came into the game focused on stopping Cook.
“Their girl hit 13 three-pointers the other day and she had zero points today,” Leonard said. “That was our whole goal. We weren’t going to let people run the score up on us, because that doesn’t fly.”
Williams said the Lady Panthers’ defense on Cook played a big role in the game.
“They were guarding Adele (Cook) pretty good,” Williams said. “Normally she is our fire and she brings us up whenever we are down. Tonight we didn’t have that because they were stuck on her. We just couldn’t get out of that rut.”
The one bright mark for Carrollton was Williams, who recorded a double-double with team-highs in both points (18) and rebounds (10) for Carrollton.
“She had a good day,” Driskill said. “I thought Rachel did a good job of getting out of the block in the second half. She got the ball, got open and turned and put it off the board. She was crashing the boards hard.”
With the win, Monroe City will head into the Christmas break undefeated and that has Spalding excited.
“It feels great,” Spalding said. “We have never had this before while I have been in high school. It is a great feeling.”
After the loss, Driskill said his team has a few things to work on.
“We need to practice harder,” Driskill said. “We need to get better at exercising our offense and finishing our buckets. We got to where we rely on Adele (Cook) and when she is not on or doesnt make anything, the rest of us have got to carry the mail.”