St. Joseph up next on Wednesday
It’s one thing to peak at the right time. It’s another to eliminate two teams in do-or-die regional action who had defeated you in the regular season.
That’s the story behind the Monticello eighth grade boys’ basketball squad, which registered three wins in last week’s post-season start in Heyworth to win the Regional crown. It included wins over Maroa-Forsyth and Unity, two teams that had defeated the Sages earlier in the year.
“Our defense and effort was so much better. They did not score any easy baskets. Maroa and Unity had to earn every basket they got,” said Monticello coach Mike Stokowski. “Also, last time we had a lot of turnovers. This time our number of turnovers was much lower.”
It earns the 18-9 Sages a Lincoln Birthday matchup at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12 vs. St. Joseph (18-5) in the Rocket Center in Tolono. The winner advances to the IESA Class 3A state tournament at Urbana Middle School this weekend.
Monticello was the No. 3 seed and started regional action with a convincing 25-18 win over GCMS on Feb. 1.
No. 2 Maroa-Forsyth was next on Feb. 3, and the Sages were up to the task. After falling behind 7-4 early, Monticello outscored its opponent 23-11 in the middle two frames to cruise to a 41-31 win.
Monty Snyder led the way with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while teammate Luke Teschke added 11 points on 2 of 5 shooting from three-point range, along with 6 rebounds. Trey Welter added 5 points and 3 assists.
In the regional final the next night, the Sages went up against top-seeded Unity, and the second and third quarters were again the key, as MMS out-totaled the Rockets 22-13 in those frames en route to a 43-39 victory. Unity made it close with a 21-point final quarter.
“The key against Unity was our defense,” added Stokowski. “I believe we aggravated several of the Unity players with our tough defense and full court pressure. They were very frustrated.”
MMS also proved clutch from the charity stripe, knocking down all 8 of its free throws in the final quarter.
Jacob Long helped key the win for Monticello, hitting all 6 of his free throws in the fourth quarter and scoring 11 points for the game. Snyder had another double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Welter had 8 points and Teschke 5.
“The win was truly a team effort by everyone,” said Stokowski.