Bitter pill to take for Monticello in sectional final loss

Bitter pill to take for Monticello in sectional final loss

MAROA — The Monticello boys' basketball team's dream of back-to-back state tournament appearances fell two wins short on Friday night.

Bloomington Central Catholic's Jack Gilmore dropped in a game-high 24 points on 10 of 15 shooting, including 4 of 8 from three-point range, to spur the Saints to a 56-34 victory against the Sages in the Class 2A Maroa-Forsyth Sectional championship game.

Monticello trailed 31-13 at halftime and saw the Saints' lead balloon to as much as 28 points in the second half. The Sages couldn't keep pace with BCC's 53 percent shooting for the game in their first loss of 2018. Monticello's only other loss happened on Dec. 29 against Ridgeview — which is into the Elite Eight in 1A for the second straight season — before Friday night's setback ended the Sages' win streak at 18 games.

"(BCC is) a phenomenal team," Monticello head coach Kevin Roy said. "They shot the ball extremely well, got out in transition and defended hard. They were just the better team (Friday)."

Monticello's 34 points were the least the Sages scored all season. Monticello's leading scorer Calvin Fisher was held to eight points and finished just 1 of 9 from the field. His lone field goal came on a three-pointer with 3 minutes, 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter. As a team, the Sages only connected on 11 of 41 shots from the field (27 percent). Along with Fisher, fellow seniors Johnny Dawson (eight points) and Luke Stokowski (seven points) chipped in offensively.

"They're just real physical," Roy said of the BCC defense. "They were physical with Calvin and Luke. Then they didn't guard some guys, and we needed some guys to step up (Friday)."

Monticello finished the season 25-2 and won the program's 23rd regional championship along with reaching the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last five seasons. Fisher, Stokowski, Dawson, Noah Wright and Cameron Dyson capped their prep career with an 85-24 record and four regional titles while wearing a Monticello uniform.

"We couldn't be more proud of this team," Roy said. "They're just a great group of young men. They're a remarkable group. They're very special. In my heart and for the program, just the historical things they've accomplished the last two years - they set a new standard for Monticello basketball, and I couldn't be more proud of those guys."