MONTICELLO — Call it a Hoopla Hangover. Or a Numbing New Year.
Whatever it was, Monticello looked like a different team Friday night than a week ago when it crushed Blue Ridge in its own holiday tournament championship.
Monticello was lethargic and — at times — downright sloppy but put together a solid stretch of play in the fourth quarter to escape Central A&M 54-45 at home in Miller Gymnasium.
“We went from playing some of our best basketball (against) Blue Ridge to coming out and kind of laying an egg,” coach Kevin Roy said. “We have to create our own spark out there.”
Nick Stokowski was the spark Monticello (11-1, 2-0 Okaw Valley) so desperately needed on a night when Sages jump shooters went cold and starting forward Bryan Phipps didn’t start after battling the flu the last few days. Stokowski scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds while playing all but two minutes.
“You think Stokowski’s going to be our zone buster,” Roy said of his guard’s shooting prowess. “They’re playing a zone and all of his points came inside.”
Stokowski’s double-double was his third of the season and the 13th of his career.
“He did a nice job of getting to the basket and getting position where he needed to there,” Roy said. “He’s just crafty around the basket, has a nose for the ball and gets in and is able to finish.”
Matt Kruse added eight points and nine rebounds for the Sages, who dominated the boards (38-23) against the guard-heavy Raiders. Isaac Bales and Ryan Donohue had five points apiece.
Monticello faces an undefeated Riverton in Saturday’s BSN Shootout at Unity High.
“We’re going to have to come out with a lot more fire and enthusiasm than we did tonight,” Roy said. “I’m hoping what we did is that we saved it from tonight for tomorrow.”