Monticello girls hold serve at home against Charlottesville

It’s pick your poison when it comes to Monticello, and there’s really no right choice as it stands now with this group of seniors. On Friday Charlottesville tried to throw a wrinkle at the Mustangs by running a full court press to try and negate the size and experience advantage. As such, the Mustangs did not run a lot of set off offense. What they did instead was pass well and run the ball up the court. Aside from a minor scare at the end of the second half where Black Knights’ 3-point shooting caught fire, Monticello was able to cruise at home to the tune of a 61-44 win.

“Team’s are trying to slow us down usually with their press but they like to run, that’s their game and so this press was a bit different,” said Monticello coach Josh McElheney. “It was fun because we don’t get to run very much right now, but we did tonight.”

In the first half the Mustangs broke the press and saw Molly Shephard and Regan Roberts excel underneath the basket for easy points. Shephard had 17 first half points and 11 in the second quarter alone to push Monticello to a 20-8 lead with just over four minutes to play until the break. 

“We’ve been working on breaking the press in practice but haven’t seen a lot it,” Roberts said. “We’re not shy to sprint up the court so anytime I or any of us get a rebound we look up court. We have confidence in every single girl to dribble up the court, so it wasn’t like there was one person to look for. Anybody on this team can handle the ball.”

Charlottesville got a spark from there with Alaijah Ragland’s perimeter game,  to trim the deficit to seven points, but that was as close as the Black Knights could get.

“(Monticello) just executed so well that they were really able to do what they wanted,” said Charlottesville coach Jim Daly. “It wasn’t just their size, they just passed well and we didn’t have the help defense.”

Monticello’s triangle-and-two defense did its best to try and focus on Charlottesville’s best inside presence in Kendall Ballard. As a result, the Black Knights were forced to rely on the three point shot and stick with the press. With Comer dribbling and passing through it with few mistakes, the Mustangs maintained a double digit lead through out the second half, taking a 40-22 lead early in the third and going up 53-22 to start the fourth before closing out the game.

“I think the ability to rebound so well drives our offense,” Roberts said. “It gives our guards the confidence to shoot.”

Shephard led all scorers with 21 points. Comer had 18 points with 14 in the second half. Roberts had the even split with 12 points divided evenly between the two halves. Kianna Scott added eight points.

“Molly and Regan cleaned up on the glass,” McElheney said. “Then Megan dropped a 3-pointer in transition early in the second have and so I was like ‘Ok, I guess she’s feeling it now.’ It’s great to have so many kids that can score so much on any given night.”

For Charlottesville, Desitnee McDonald led the way with 15 points and a trio of 3-pointers in the second half. Ragland had 11 points. Ballard added 8 eight points. 

“We have the girls to shoot the ball outside so we should not be alarmed by the teams that pack in it (to deal with Ballard) or a triangle-and-two,” Daly said. “We just got rattled for stretches and then that affected the other things we needed to do like boxing out and taking care of the ball.”