The Monroe City boys basketball team controlled the tempo and led wire-to-wire Tuesday for a 52-43 win over Canton.
Monroe City boys basketball coach Brock Edris did not want to rush things in the Panthers season opener Tuesday night against visiting Canton.
Five players in the Panthers regular rotation jumped straight to the hardwood from the football field.
Monroe City controlled the tempo and led wire-to-wire for a 52-43 win over the Tigers.
“I felt like we had to play somewhat slow especially in the halfcourt and play a lot of zone,” the Panthers coach said. “A lot of those kids who played Saturday (in the football state championship game) are still sore so we didn’t want anyone to get hurt or anything.”
Two of the football players started Tuesday night and helped the Panthers race out to an 11-0 lead.
Running back Zach Osborn drove the baseline for a bucket and was fouled. The old-fashioned 3-point play gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead with 6 minutes, 35 seconds left in the opening frame.
Quarterback Blake Hays knocked down a corner three on the Panthers next possession for a 6-0 lead.
Bryce Stark capped the run as he took a pass from Hays and drilled a long jumper for an 11-0 lead with 4:40 remaining in the first.
Carson Birck’s only field goal of the night ended the Tigers scoring drought on the next possession. The bucket started an 8-1 spurt by Canton to close out the opening quarter.
The two teams traded points throughout most of the second period as the Panthers held a 22-15 advantage at the break.
Canton misfired on 16 of 21 shots from the field in the first 16 minutes of play.
“Going into the half and only giving up 15 points, I was pretty pleased,” Edris said of his defense.
The Panthers top returning scorer from last season, C.E. Talton, found his touch in the second half. After being held to just six points in the first half, Talton scored 15 in the final two periods of play.
The junior scored the final five points of a 7-0 run to start the second half. Talton knocked down a trey from the wing and a long jumper from the top of the key on back-to-back possessions as the Panthers extended their lead to 29-15 with 6:27 left in the third. It marked the largest lead of the game for Monroe City.
Just like it did in the first half, Canton made a charge back.
A basket from Koy Smith pulled the Tigers to within 43-35 with 5:58 left in the game.
Talton bullied his way to the basket and spun past a trio of Tiger defenders to convert a 3-point play. The nifty move pushed the Panthers lead to 43-35 with 4:25 to play.
After Canton trimmed the deficit back to five 90 seconds later, Talton again maneuvered his way through multiple Tiger defenders for a finish near the rim.
The visitors did not have another push the rest of the game.
“C.E. was able to find his groove in the second half and was able to finish some plays he could not in the first half,” Edris said. “He also did a nice job of using the screens his teammates set for him.”
Talton finished with a game-high 21 points and added 10 rebounds.
Hays and Osborn finished with nine points apiece.
Eight different Panthers scored in the win.
“We had multiple guys come in and make some plays for us tonight,” the Panthers coach said of the win. “I knew these guys would come out and compete because that’s all these kids know how to do.”
For the game the Panthers shot 48 percent from the field (16-for-33) while holding Canton to a 15-for-49 night (31 percent).
Koy Smith (14) and Brody Smith (13) paced Canton with 27 combined points.
“We still have some things to clean up, but we will use the next couple days of practice to get better,” Edris said. “We found a way to win tonight and that is the most important thing.”
Monroe City returns to the court Friday against Paris.