Mission Accomplished: Monroe boys cut the nets, win Conference 28 title

Photo by Bart Isley

William Monroe boys basketball’s Anthony Terry reached the 1,000-point mark for his career before halftime, but he was far from done Thursday night in the Conference 28 title game.


On the opening play of the fourth quarter, the Dragons ran a set action for Terry on the inbounds pass. James Monroe overplayed it, leaving Terry streaking toward the basket.


The passer hit Terry in stride and he exploded for a dunk, pushing William Monroe’s lead to seven. That led to a burst that gave the Dragons an 11-point lead and from there they held on to beat James Monroe 62-59 and win the Conference 28 title.


“We set up a call for him and fortunately they took the bait and I thought that really got him going and us as a team going,” said William Monroe coach Brett Maynard. “I thought he finished extremely well against some really good athletes, they have a lot of height and he just elevated above them and used his body, it was great.”


The victory avenged last year’s conference tournament semifinal loss to the Yellow Jackets, allowing the Dragons’ senior class to erase a frustrating memory that cut short their junior campaign.


“Last year they beat us by a lot, we came in determined that we were going to get the W and cut down the net,” Terry said. “We knew if we stayed composed, we had the lead for most of the game, we knew we’d settle down and keep on winning.”


Terry finished with 21 points while fellow seniors Malique Shackelford and Kam’ron McCain had 12 and 11 respectively. Junior Jalen Anderson exploded down the stretch and scored six of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.


The Dragons had to weather James Monroe down the stretch as a few missed free throws opened the door for the Jackets to make it a game. Freshman Michael Gray had already kept James Monroe in it with four 3-pointers in the third quarter, and though he cooled off in the fourth, Khari Jefferson took over and scored seven of his 15 in the fourth. But an attempt to tie the game with a 3-pointer at the buzzer missed, setting off a wild celebration and court rush by the Monroe student section.


“We’ve been thinking about this one since the beginning of the year,” McCain said. “I’ve been thinking about this since sophomore year, since junior year and now it’s finally here and we won it. I’m happy.”


Gray finished with 23 to lead James Monroe.


This was just Maynard’s second season as head coach, but he took over a talented group and has helped them find roles and play together as a team. McCain emerged as the playmaker — he posted 14 assists recently, tying for the second most in a single game in VHSL history — and Terry as the finisher while Shackelford provided scoring and strength underneath. Charlie Richards (who didn’t play Thursday after a pregame injury) knocked down shots from outside and Anderson exploded this year as a versatile threat on both ends of the floor. They bought into those roles, and it paid off Thursday in a title.


“It has taken a lot of hard work throughout this season and we’ve really grown together as a team,” Maynard said. “I just couldn’t be prouder of how they’ve just worked every single day. We had a couple of tough losses during the season and to reach one of our main goals is just a great feeling.”


Terry’s 1,000-point career mark was particularly special for the senior as he’d set it as a goal early in his career.


“That’s been my dream ever since I was a freshman on the team,” Terry said. “My friend Jeff Early did it and I looked up to him all my high school career and I just wanted to be just like him.”


The Dragons advance to the Region 3A East tournament next week where they’ll be battling it out for a state tournament berth.