There was a playoff atmosphere at Monroe City High School Tuesday night.

There was a playoff atmosphere at Monroe City High School Tuesday night.


Monroe City was playing host to the Hannibal Pirates in a non-conference game between a Class IV powerhouse and a Class II powerhouse that meant nothing in the standings for either school.


But for the faithful of both teams, it did not matter. The gymnasium was packed to standing-room-only with a crowd that was braced for an epic battle between the two schools that are separated by 20 miles on U.S. 36.


The game itself was a runway. Hannibal dominated most of the game, winning 59-39. The crowd, though, maintained the high-pitched excitement until the final horn in a fast-paced, physical game.


The game got off to an ominous start for Monroe City, now 10-3, when after winning the tip, the ball was lost out of bounds. That proved the first of many opportunities for Hannibal.


Thanks in large part to Hannibal’s Dezi Jones, a 5-foot-11 senior guard, the Pirates led for 31:30 of the game, never allowing a Monroe City lead. Jones was too much for the Panthers. He scored 23 points, including the first two points of the game from the foul-line.


“The kids were geared up. They know it was Monroe City and they pack the house here. It is not often that we play before a packed house,” said Hannibal Coach Marty Hull, who praised the play of Jones. “People are starting to take it for granted that he gets 29 or 30 points each night … it is amazing for a high school kid. And everybody who watched this game saw how willing he is to pass the ball. He had some tremendous assists tonight.”


Hannibal got off a torrid start, taking a 9-0 before Monroe City could score its first basket. Using an intimidating full-court, the Pirates gave Monroe City’s offense no room to operate. On successive plays, the Pirates intercepted passes, stole balls and totally frustrated the Panthers.


Two minutes into the game, an exacerbated Brock Edris, coach of Monroe City, called time, gathering his team in a circle. The normally calm Edris was heard all over the gym challenging his players to step up.


“We were not really converting and doing the things that we practiced,” Edris said of the timeout. “But that is also on our coaching staff. We have to do a better job of getting them prepared.”


Immediately after the timeout, Hannibal grabbed the ball from Monroe City, and Will Whitaker scored on a layup to give Hannibal a 9-0 lead.


Monroe City finally scored halfway through the quarter when C.E. Talton nailed a pair of free throws. A Logan Buhlig layup and two more free throws from Talton made the score 9-6. That was as close as Monroe City could get in the game.


Hannibal took a 13-8 lead after the first quarter, and paced by Jones and Logan Liverett, the Pirates scored 21 points in the second quarter, to take a 34-15 lead into halftime.


Monroe City mounted a challenge in the third quarter as Talton scored seven of his 19 points, helping the Panthers close the gap to 47-32. Talton was cold from the field, with 13 of his points coming from the free-throw line.


Edris said that his team simply got outplayed. Monroe City, a usually reliable outside shooting team, went 0-15 from 3-point range. Shots were rolling around the rim and then falling out. In fact, the Panthers hit only 10 field goals on the night.


“We pretty much were completely dominated in every facet of the game,” Edris said. “Hannibal did a great job of attacking the rim, while we struggled making shots. We got some looks early around the rim and we failed to convert. They played physical with us and we just did not respond. Their center, (Adreke) Brumbaugh, played us tough,” he said.