The Monroe City boys basketball team struggled to gain traction Wednesday during a 47-30 loss to O'Fallon Christian in a Class 3 state sectional game.
The Monroe City boys basketball team won a loose ball on the opening possession and had an uncontested breakaway layup.
The shot did not go in.
The play summed up the night for the Panthers against O'Fallon Christian on Wednesday.
Monroe City shot just 23 percent (10-for-43) from the field during a 47-30 loss in a Class 3 state sectional game at Moberly Area Community College.
“For whatever reason there just seemed to be a lid on the basket for us tonight,” Panthers coach Brock Edris said. “As hot as we were shooting the basketball last week, we were ice-cold shooting the ball tonight.”
Christian did not fare much better shooting the ball early on.
The Eagles missed 12 of 20 shots in the first half.
One of their shots that found the bottom of the net came in the final seconds before halftime.
Zach Harding broke a 17-all tie with a three that beat the first-half buzzer.
C.E. Talton pulled the Panthers even just four seconds prior as he was fouled on a 3-point attempt and sank all three freebies.
“Obviously that shot was huge,” Eagles coach Terry Hollander said of Harding’s buzzer beater. “We messed up before that. We were up three and were holding for the last shot. But then we turn it over, foul a 3-point shooter and then it's tied. So Zach hitting that shot was big for us.”
Zach Niemeyer opened the second-half scoring with a 3-pointer to stretch the Eagles lead to 23-17.
The Eagles senior ended the third by banking home a contested three at the buzzer from 30 feet. The desperation heave gave the Eagles a 35-23 advantage heading into the final period.
“It was just luck,” the Eagles coach said. “He has hit some shots like that this year, but it was a very difficult shot and it just went in. That kind of stuff happened.”
It all but ended the Panthers season.
Monroe City decided to put the Eagles at the line throughout most of the fourth quarter to try and play catchup.
Christian had missed 6 of 8 attempts from the charity stripe through the first three quarters.
“We had to try something,” Edris said. “They were missing some free throws early, but we just couldn’t convert on the other end.”
Christian made 8 of 13 from the free-throw line in the final frame to prevent the Panthers from making a serious threat.
Talton scored a game-high 19 points to pace the Panthers. The Monroe City junior finished a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line.
No other Panther scored more than Dalton McAfee's three points.
“We just did not have any balanced scoring tonight,” the Panthers coach said. “C.E. had to work for everything he got tonight. But I would say it's a fair statement in saying they (Christian) are the best defensive team we have faced this season.”
Hollander mentioned his defense is the main reason his team overcame a 5-7 start this season to reach the Elite Eight.
“We have been playing some really outstanding defense over the last few weeks,” the veteran coach said. “And it was great again tonight.”
Christian (20-9) advances to Saturday’s quarterfinal against Transportation and Law High School.
Monroe City finishes the season with a 24-5 record.
“With the players we lost from last season’s 24-win team, I was not sure we would ever get to 24 wins again this season,” the Panthers bench boss said. “But I am proud of what this team was able to accomplish. We just could not hit shots tonight, and when you get to this level you have to have shots fall.”