Anthony Terry knew that William Monroe need something, anything to slow down a methodical Orange County surge with just under six minutes to play.
So Terry stepped up, hitting a hard bucket and drawing the foul for a 3-point play, energizing the crowd and the Dragons en route to a 65-54 victory.
“They were coming back and we felt like they couldn’t run with us so we just turned up the tempo,” Terry said.
Kam’ron McCain followed up with a bucket of his own right after Terry, extending what had become a precarious four-point lead back out to eight points. Orange quickly called a timeout but couldn’t bounce back from the Dragons’ spurt and Monroe kept them at arm’s length the rest of the way.
“They were making a little bit of a run right there and it’s nice for our seniors to step up and just take it to the hole strong,” said Monroe coach Brett Maynard. “Orange has some really big guys, some strong players and (Terry and McCain) were finishing through that contact.”
Those seniors got a lot of help from an explosive effort by junior Jalen Anderson who exploded for 20 points and got all 20 on an array of different shots. He hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter (he had 10 in that frame alone) and then attacked the rim relentlessly after that.
“He’s been telling us he was going to be one of the stars on the team and he showed it tonight,” Terry said.
Anderson backed up that talk in a big way, translating a serious commitment to getting better during the offseason into immediate results for Monroe.
“He’s been working really hard in the offseason, he’s come to about everything we’ve had and he’s very gifted offensively,” Maynard said. “He’s really improved defensively which has helped him get on the court for us and become a starter this year. He just has a knack for getting to the hole and knocking down some shots. I’m really pleased with how he’s developed and his hard work.”
McCain finished with seven assists for the Dragons to go with his 10 points on the night while Terry notched 14 points. Malique Shackelford put together a 12-point performance for Monroe.
It was the Hornets’ opener as well, and in Albemarle alum Adam Utz’ first game as the Hornets’ head coach, Orange had to bounce back from a frustrating first half where the Dragons built a 31-24 lead. The second half, however, gave Orange something to build on.
“In the first half we were lackadaisical, we were slow to the ball, our defensive rotation was awful,” Utz said. “I think if we can keep our guys engaged and pressuring the ball for four quarters we can be pretty good. We’re still trying to identify who we are and once we do I think we can be pretty tough.”
Shannon Mull’s 17 points led the Hornets’ offensive effort while Zachary Wiliby chipped in 12 and forward Chris Dickerson finished with nine.
The Dragons will host Rapphannock Friday in their second game of the season while Orange will travel to take on Madison County the same night as the Hornets look to bounce back.