Monroe City coach Brock Edris reported during his season preview of the that the defending District-champion Panthers had scheduled some early season tests.

Monroe City coach Brock Edris reported during his season preview of the that the defending District-champion Panthers had scheduled some early season tests.

On Friday night, Quincy Notre Dame came to town and tested the Panthers.

The visiting Raiders won a tough, physical game, 60-51, as they shut down all-state forward C.E. Talton and took advantage of a foul-prone Monroe City team.

“They played better than us from start to finish,” Edris said. “Coach (Kevin) Meyer had them prepared the way we knew he would. They really tested us. They did a great of taking care of the basketball. We just did not shoot the ball well tonight,” Edris said. “If you look at just the stats, it looked like we lost worse than we did.”

The game had more of a late-season feel than the start of the 2018-19 campaign. The Monroe City gymnasium was packed with loud fans who anticipated a big game.

Although the home fans went home disappointed, they witnessed a big game.

“It’s a shame this game is not on Jan. 30 instead of Nov. 30,” said one media observer in the first quarter.

Although QND took control of the game after a close first quarter, when the Raiders took an 11-9 lead. QND took control of the game in the second-quarter, leading 30-20 at halftime.

However, each time QND tried to put the game out of reach, the Panthers managed to close the gap.

“They are darned dynamic,” Meyer said of Monroe City. “They kept trying to come back..they are going to be a very good team at the end of the year.”

Game referees had an active night, calling some 40 fouls between the two teams. Monroe City got into trouble early in both the first half and the second, sending QND to the foul line for 39 attempts. However, the Raiders only made 20 free-throw shots, which kept the game closer than QND coach Meyer wanted.

“We shot a lot of free throws, but we need to do a better job at the line…we were not takimg advantage of the free throws,” Meyer said.

The Panthers started to catch up late in the fourth quarter when emotions caused the run to come unraveled. Monroe City pulled to within six points at 48-42. Blake Hays hit a jump shot with a little more than 3 minutes left in the game.  Then, Talton was called for a foul, and then threw the ball hard into the floor, getting tagged for a technical foul. QND nailed three of four free throws, effectively ending the Monroe City comeback.

Afterward, Edris said the he hoped his team learned.

“We just could not get over the hump. Lots of fouls. “Our kids are always going to play hard we just need to play a bit smarter. We have to avoid the careless fouls. We gave then too many opportunities from the free throw line.”