Season ends too soon
Just three years removed from winning the Class 4A state boys’ basketball championship, Monticello’s 2017-18 season ended abuptly way sooner than anyone expected or dreamed. With a 51-46 loss to Ashdown in the first round of the 4A South Region Tournament last Wednesday night, the Billies didn’t even advance to the state tournament this year.
The loss ended Monticello’s season at 13-16, and was the Billies’ third straight defeat. Despite their up-and-down season, they hadn’t lost three in a row since the opening three games of the year in Brookland (ironically, the site of this year’s 4A state tournament).
“Make no mistake, we are all disappointed in how the season ended,” longtime Monticello boys’ basketball head coach Wayne Sherrer said. “Our expectations are always high.
“We felt that our individual pieces were good but we were never able to get on the same page as a team. Most of our games came down to the last few minutes of the game and for the most part we were unable to consistently make the plays needed to win.”
That script played out against Ashdown, too. After allowing the Panthers to dominate the first half, Monticello—which entered the tournament as the fourth seed from 4A, District 8—dug in after intermission and simply ran out of time in its comeback.
Ashdown jumped out to a 12-8 lead after eight minutes and added to that advantage with a 14-9 second quarter. Behind senior Jase Whitfield’s team-leading 16 points, though, the Billies were able to outscore the No. 1 seed from 7-4A by four in the second half. Sophomore Shannon Strickland also reached double figures for Monticello againt Ashdown, scoring 12 points.
“We’re appreciative of the effort of our seniors; Ryan (Lambert), Jase, Jiehron (Yarbrough), Eric (Evans) and Devario (Ballard),” Sherrer noted. “We look forward to the continued development of a talented group of underclasses. With hard work and commitment, better days are ahead.”