Third time was the charm for the unbeaten Monroe City girls basketball team in a 56-37 win over Clopton in the Clopton Invitational championship.

Third time was the charm for the Monroe City girls basketball team. After two straight losses in the championship game, the Lady Panthers finally brought home the hardware they wanted.

Behind Jada Summers’ game-high 27 points, Monroe City toppled Clopton, 56-37, on Friday night to claim its first Clopton Invitational championship.

The win for the Lady Panthers ended Clopton’s run of four consecutive tournament titles.

“We played our butts off and rose to the occasion tonight,” senior Emilie Okenfuss said. “We have never won this before, and we knew Clopton was going to be tough to beat on their home court, so this feels pretty amazing.”

Despite the final margin of victory, it was anything but easy.

The Lady Hawks full-court press forced Monroe City into nine first-quarter turnovers and 13 total in the first 16 minutes of play.

“It wasn’t always pretty, but we found a way to win,” Lady Panthers coach Cody Leonard stated. “Once we took care of the ball and weathered the storm, I thought we played pretty well.”

Clopton was unable to fully take advantage of the Lady Panthers miscues. The Lady Hawks missed 22 of their 28 shots from the field in the first half.

Monroe City, on the other hand, connected on 10 of 23 shots from the floor, which led to a 27-15 lead at halftime.

The Lady Panthers also had to overcome the loss of starting guard Madi Hays. The senior, who is averaging 11 points per game on the season, left in the second quarter with a knee injury. Hays was carried off the court and did not return.

“Coach told us we just had to play as if she was still out there on the court with us and not worry about anything else,” Summers said of Hays’ injury. “And it made us want to play and win this for her.”

Monroe City extended its lead throughout most of the second half.

Summers scored 17 of her points after intermission as Clopton could not stop the tournament’s most valuable player. She also pulled down 14 rebounds.

“We knew we were going to have our hands full with her,” Clopton coach Deaven Streed said of Summers. “You don’t see a lot of high school players with her power, and she is not overly tall. She is definitely impressive.”

The junior scored the first seven points of the fourth period to put the game out of reach.

“We knew they would not really have an answer for her,” Leonard said. “And our girls did a nice job of pounding the ball inside to her for more opportunities.”

Summers registered 65 points in the three tournament wins to secure the MVP award.

“I definitely feel honored,” the junior said. “I feel like I have worked hard to earn this, and my teammates did a great job of helping win this. I am happy we were finally able to win the tournament.”

Clopton had won 13 of the previous 15 tournament titles.

Okenfuss was also named to the all-tournament team. She finished with 12 points in the championship win.

Delanie Okenfuss added eight points and eight rebounds, while freshman Riley Quinn scored four points and pulled down five boards.

As a team, Monroe City out rebounded Clopton, 46-23.

Jillian Lockard led Clopton (7-5) with 14 points.

Monroe City improved to 12-0 on the season.

“It’s great to keep the streak going,” Emilie Okenfuss said. “Being 12-0 has never felt so good.”