Trailing by nine points with five minutes to go, William Monroe need a run to get back into their Bull Run District semifinal with rival Madison County. Behind Markell Williams, Austin Batten and Gary Morris, the Dragons were able to tie the game and force overtime in their third encounter with the Mountaineers, and a strong start in overtime mixed with converted free throws gave Monroe a 67-60 win.
“It was a great game and anyone could have won it,” said Dragons coach Mike Maynard. “I thought we could have stepped on them early, but a few turnovers and Madison got right back into it. It was a hard fought game.”
Off of a strong first quarter, Monroe took a 12-point lead early in the second frame, but a trio of miscues opened the door for the Mountaineers to finish the half on a high note, closing the gap to just one point at the break.
The Dragons held a 3-point edge going into the fourth, but got themselves in trouble as Madison cruised early to erase the advantage and build up a 9-point lead of its own behind the play of Matt Temple, Bobby Ford and Patrick Roebuck. Monroe put together a run of its own with Batten knocking down 3-pointers to tie the game at 53, and a last second shot by Williams at the foul stripe just kicked out to end regulation.
“It was just a game of runs,” Maynard said. “When we got to overtime I thought we played really well all the way though and did a good job of taking it to them.”
The Dragons took an early lead and forced the Mountaineers to foul to finish up the game. It was Morris that wound up handling the free throw shooting down the stretch and the junior guard was able to help his team claim a double-digit lead late. Ford knocked down a long range 3-pointer in the waining moments to get Madison to within seven, but there was no time left for one last Mountaineer run.
Two players each scored 20 points for Monroe between juniors Williams and Morris. Williams also added eight rebounds while Morris hit six of his nine free throw attempts. Batten had a huge all around game with 12 points on a quartet of threes to go with seven assists and five rebounds.
For Madison, Temple had a team best 16 points while Roebuck and Bobby Ford had 12 and 11 respective points. The Mountaineers currently sit in fifth place in the Region B standings. They will have to wait until the weekend to find out their next opponent.
Monroe will play George Mason in Church Falls for the Bull Run championship on Friday. It will be the fourth meeting between the two. The Dragons are ranked third in Region B and hoping to keep it so they have a home game to open up the next round.