The Monroe City girls’ basketball hung on to beat Clark County 39-36 Wednesday night at the 70th Annual Tony Lenzini Basketball Tournament. The game started out as a blowout for Monroe City, turned into a very tight game by the time it was over.
Monroe City won by just three points after opening the game with an 18-0 run that lasted into the second quarter. The Monroe City girls’ basketball hung on to beat Clark County 39-36 Wednesday night at the 70th Annual Tony Lenzini Basketball Tournament. The game started out as a blowout for Monroe City, turned into a very tight game by the time it was over.
“It was very tough,” Monroe City senior Olivia Crager said. “We didn’t like how close it was at the end.”
Monroe City won by just three points after opening the game with an 18-0 run that lasted into the second quarter.
“I told the girls, the first quarter was about as good a defense as I have seen in all my years coaching,” Leonard said. “The rest of the game wasn’t though. It was the complete opposite.”
Leading 30-14 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Clark County pounded the Lady Panthers in the final eight minutes of play. The Lady Indians outscored Monroe City 22-9 in the fourth to get the score with three points with 24 seconds left in the game.
“Our intensity was very string at the beginning of the game,” Crager said. “It was really awesome. We were executing and everything. In the second half, I think we got a little bit comfortable and that helped make our defense not so great.”
Clark County opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run. After a layup and a free throw by Monroe City’s Crager, Clark County went on another 10-2 run. With 49 seconds left in the game, Clark County had fought back from a 16 point deficit to trailing by five points, 35-30.
“They came out and made some adjustments in the second half,” Monroe City coach Cody Leonard said. “They did a lot better in taking care of the basketball and getting us out of our rhythm on offense.”
Kelly Winking extended the Lady Panthers lead to 37-30 with a pair of free throws, but Hannah Trump cut the lead to four points when she hit a trey with 39 seconds left. Crager then went to the line and hit a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left to push the lead back out to 39-33.
“I knew I had to make them,” Crager said. “The game was so close, we needed every point we could get. I just focused, didn’t let anything distract me and did what I needed to do.”
Page 2 of 3 - With 24 seconds remaining, Mishaylee Cline hit a trey to get Clark County within three points, but that was as close as they would get. Monroe City was able to hold onto the ball and run the clock out to preserve the win.
Cline scored all seven of her points in the fourth quarter coming off the bench while Jenna Huston scored six of her 10 and her only bucket in the fourth quarter.
The game wasn’t always that close. In fact, during the first quarter and through most of the second quarter it looked as Monroe City would easily rout Clark County.
The Lady Panthers came out of the opening tip and scored quickly. Kiette Mundy got Monroe City on the board with a layup and then Crager added on to the quick lead. By the time the opening quarter was over, Monroe City led 13-0. Crager (7 points) and Mundy (6 points) accounted for all of Monroe City’s first quarter scoring.
Clark County didn’t get its first points of the game until 5:35 was left in the second quarter when Huston went to the line. Huston hit both free throw attempts and the Lady Indians were finally on the board. Clark County wouldn’t record its first bucket until 2:23 was left in the half. Monroe City still outscored Clark County in the second quarter 11-9, but, Clark County was mounting a comeback.
When the second half began, the scoring slowed down. Monroe City made just one field goal, a three-pointer from Leah Albus and three free throws from Mundy. Clark County was just as slow to score, getting one bucket from Megan Oilar and three free throws.
Crager finished the night with a game-high 16 points for Monroe City while also pulling down 5 rebounds while Mundy turned in 9 points and 5 boards for the Lady Panthers.
“I am kind of shocked,” Crager said. “I have never really led (in scoring) before. It is a different feeling because it is a whole team effort and you can’t do it without the team.”
With the win, Monroe City improves to 14-2 on the season. The Lady Panthers advance to Saturday’s championship game. Monroe City will play the winner of tonight’s Bowling Green versus Palmyra game. The last time Monroe City won the Tony Lenzini Basketball Tournament was in 2000.
“We have got two more days and we don’t know who we are going to play yet,” Leonard said. “Both are good teams. We have two days to iron things out and we will go back to work (today).”
Crager said the team was excited to be playing in the title game.
“It is awesome,” Crager said of getting the win. “Now we get to play for the championship, which is much better than playing for third.”
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