Bearcats’ frantic comeback comes up short against Monroe
Published 4:16 pm Friday, November 25, 2016
By Brandon O’Connor
The Bainbridge Bearcats mounted an impressive second half comeback against the Monroe High School Tornadoes, but couldn’t overcome an early hole as they fell 76-65. The Tornadoes came out of the gate firing on all cylinders as they raced out to an early 17-0 lead and a 22-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“Last year they punched us in the mouth twice,” head coach Terry Smith said. “Well, they came over tonight and punched us in the mouth early. I think we kind of laid down early so we went into halftime and tried to light a fire under their butt. Obviously, it worked we came back and only lost by 11. With a team like that, we can’t dig ourselves a big hole like that.”
The Bearcats did not score their first points of the game until almost six minutes in and they were held to only one field goal and one made free throw in the first quarter.
Monroe extended its lead to 31-4 early in the second quarter before Bainbridge started to work its way back into the game cutting the lead to 31-12.
Monroe took a 42-18 lead into halftime thanks in large part to Ulysses Williams who outscored Bainbridge 21 to 18 in the first half with 12 of his points coming on four 3-pointers.
“It was like he was just throwing in the ocean,” Smith said. “I told the kids, he takes two dribbles past half court he can pull up.”
Bainbridge capitalized on its strong showing late in the second quarter and carried the momentum into the second half outscoring Monroe 26-20 in the third quarter.
“We really didn’t change anything,” Smith said about the second half. “They just played better defense. They got a couple steals here and there. They attacked the basket and we made a few shots.”
The Bearcats opened the fourth quarter down 62-44, but were able to cut the deficit to single digits with 1:05 left in the game.
With 3:50 left remaining, Bainbridge came within 13 and had a chance to cut it to 11 after Monroe missed one of two free throws, but the shot was off.
Bainbridge continued to battle and came within 10 after a steal led to an easy layup. Jeremy Freeman then cut the Tornadoes lead to only nine with 1:05 remaining, the first time the deficit was single digits since Monroe took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
“He played hard,” Smith said about Freeman. “He didn’t have a good scrimmage game and he felt bad so he had something to prove tonight. He came out and did pretty decent.”
Monroe responded by bringing Williams and other starters back in off the bench and the Tornadoes closed out the game for a 76-65 win.
“Defensively we sucked tonight,” Smith said. “Offensively we sucked tonight. It was just a poor job and all the blame is on me.”
The Bearcats’ comeback attempt was led by Freeman who finished with 12 points. Milton Gayle also had 12, Damion White had eight, Maleke Lurry had six and Bryce Jones had four.
Monroe was led by Williams who finished the game with 34 points and six 3-pointers.