Singleton, Sages remain on a hot streak

Singleton, Sages remain on a hot streak

MAROA — Four days off didn't cool Monticello's Benton Singleton.

The Sages junior continued his hot streak, scoring a career-high 19 points to lead Monticello to a 47-39 victory against St. Joseph-Ogden in the Maroa-Forsyth Class 2A sectional semifinal on Wednesday night.

Less than a week after sending Monticello to the sectional round with a last-second game-winning shot, Singleton scored nine straight points for the Sages spanning the second and third quarters and nailed two big shots late in the fourth period to increase the Sages' lead from two to six points with less than two minutes remaining.

He also upped his career high from 17 points — a mark he tied in the regional championship win against Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley — to 19 points against the Spartans.

"Just going to see where this takes us," Singleton said. "I just want to do whatever needs to be done for our team to win."

Monticello (25-1) did exactly that in the third quarter, going on a 15-0 run while holding the Spartans (26-4) scoreless for the first 4 minutes, 53 seconds.

That run turned a two-point halftime deficit into a 13-point advantage.

Singleton scored seven of those points while Calvin Fisher (18 points) and Johnny Dawson (six points, three assists) each made a pair of baskets before SJ-O's Joel Orcutt got the Spartans on the board with 3:07 left in the quarter.

"It's mentality, just a refocus," Monticello coach Kevin Roy said. "(SJ-O) came out and did a great job defensively and they did a nice job executing offensively. They crashed the boards hard, and I felt like they were out-working us a little bit.

"We just had to refocus and work on finishing and cleaning up the boards on the defensive end and not giving them extra offense."

It was the second win for the Sages against SJ-O this season, but sweeter for the Sages since it happened in the postseason with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line.

Jack Cook had a team-high 11 points for SJ-O, while Orcutt (nine points) and Bryce Haake (six points, 11 rebounds) also contributed for SJ-O, which led 13-6 early.

"We've been playing some of them for a long time now and we had kind of struggled against St. Joe the past four or five years against them," Singleton said, "and it just feels even better when we get to play them in the playoffs because we get to keep going and they're done."

Up next for Monticello is a matchup with Bloomington Central Catholic (23-6) on Friday for a sectional championship. BCC defeated St. Teresa 66-41 Tuesday to earn its spot and the Sages own a 56-53 win against the Saints when the two Illini Prairie Conference teams met on Feb. 9 in Monticello.

"They're coming to play. They're a good team, solid team," Singleton said. "They beat Maroa by 60 points in the first round so they're definitely going to bring it."