MONROE CITY, Mo. — In a game of streaks, Monroe City reeled off a strong fourth quarter, posting a 60-44 win over the visiting Keokuk Chiefs on Saturday.
But it took some late-game heroics for Monroe City (2-0) to put the game in the win column.
Monroe City senior forward Logan Buhlig was upset with after a turnover with about four minutes left in the contest with the Panthers clinging to the lead.
Buhlig fired a low pass that bounced off Joshua Talton’s thigh and then went out of bounds, giving the Chiefs a timely turnover.
But Buhlig quickly reacted, turning the miscue into a huge play for the Panthers.
Keokuk, down 48-40, was desperately trying to comeback against Monroe City when Buhlig raced back down the floor and less than 10 seconds after the turnover to steal the ball from a Keokuk guard and Monroe City quickly scored.
Buhlig saved his best for the fourth quarter, stealing the ball twice to quell Keokuk comeback attempts, forcing a traveling call on a Keokuk player because of aggressive defense and a huge block of a three-point shot attempt by Keokuk’s hot-shooting guard, Isiah Seay.
“I was struggling on offense that and I knew that I had to contribute in a come a different way so I had to work hard on defense to pull it out,” Buhlig said. “I was playing off my man enough and I was just quick enough to get the ball, and I knew that if I was going to turn it over, I just had to get it back for my team.”
Buhlig was helped by solid offensive play from junior Jaedyn Robinson, who scored seven of his 12 points on the game, including four key free throws.
Robinson said that his teammates put him into a good position to hit his shots, and credited coach Brock Edris for his free throw shooting.
“Coach always tells us when we are shooting free throws to think nothing but net so that is what I focused on at the line tonight,” he said.
Monroe City started the game strong, as Joshua and Josiah Talton each nailed three-point goals as, leading the Panthers to 14-7 lead entering the second quarter.
The Panthers started out to wide lead in the second quarter, but Keokuk turned it up in the quarter, outscoring the Panthers 11-9 during the period as Monroe City held a 23-18 lead at halftime.
Going into the fourth quarter, Monroe City was up 42-35.
Keokuk got a hot hand in the fourth quarter, closing the gap to 44-40 with 6:02 left in the game, the closest the Chiefs came to the lead since the Joshua Talton 3-point shot to open the game.
But Monroe City took control, outscoring Keokuk by a 16-4 margin over the last 6 minutes.
“I thought we did a good job in this game of runs,” Edris said. “We got out front early. Listen, Keokuk is a good basketball team. They are well-coached, and they battled themselves back several times. They would cut it to four or five points, and we would come back. Then it seems that we were just able to break though and expand that run in the fourth quarter. Obviously, our free-throw shooting helped, and that block of the three-point shot by Logan on one of their best shooters was kind of a momentum changer.”
The Monroe City Lady Panthers faced a Class 4 foe again on Saturday, and for the third time this season, posted a win.
The Lady Panthers downed Kirksville, 62-52, in a contest where Monroe City never lost the lead.
Coach Cody Leonard designed his game plan around his three post players – Riley Quinn, Bailee Hays and Haley Hagan. The trio combined for 49 of the Lady Panthers’ 62 points. Hayes posted 17 points, Quinn had 15 points and Hagan had 14 points.
“It’s nice when a plan comes together,” Leonard said. “We knew those three would have an advantage offensively and defensively. Nice that the game plan actually works out.”
However, Monroe had to overcome some issues to get the win.
“We did not rebound well and we were obviously in pretty big foul trouble most of the game but I thought we made some big plays when we needed to stop their runs to extend the lead and give us some breathing room,” Leonard said.
Quinn said that Kirksville played a very physical game.
“We knew we had to be tough to get to them,” she said. “They played our guards hard and we had to get the ball down low and attack that way.”