Something wasn’t clicking for William Monroe to start in its first round matchup in the Daily Progress/NBC 29 Holiday Classic, but the shoe was on the other foot in the second quarter. Behind a monster run in that frame and big performance from Markel Williams, the Dragons clawed back and in the second half held off the Trail Blazers to move onto the winners bracket with a 72-62 win.
“Spotswood is another one of those really good Group AA schools, really tough, so I’m proud of our team to pick up a win,” said Monroe coach Mike Maynard. “Kind of like against Madison last week, we didn’t get off to a good start, but we played really well after that.”
Monroe allowed 22 first quarter points to Spotswood and found itself in a 10-point hole going into the second, but that period belonged to the Dragons as they held Spotswood to just three points for the next eight minutes and put up a 20-spot on their own to go into the break up 32-25.
Midway through the fourth, Spotswood, behind the play of Tucker McCoy, closed the gap to make it a tie game at 57, but Monroe’s forward duo of Williams and Markel Faulkner provided the difference in the end as they helped their team finish of last year’s Group AA Division 3 semifinalist.
Williams had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Gary Morris was the next best scorer for Monroe with 15 points. Faulkner added seven points, seven rebounds and an impressive six blocks. Lamar Neslon, stepped up at guard with Jordan Gentry out because of injury to add 14 points and also collect six rebounds.
Monroe (7-2) moves on to face Culpeper in the next round today at 6:30 p.m. at Charlottesville High. The Blue Devils beat Western Albemarle in their tournament opener.