By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO December 30, 2005 Brad Cooper exploded for 17 points in the third quarter to lead Monticello over visiting Sullivan West by a score of 71-42 last Friday evening in a non-league boys basketball game.
Early on, the game looked like it was headed towards a replay of last years dramatic finish in the contest between the two squads. In that December 2004 game, SW won the game on a 3-pointer by Joe Meyer with four seconds left on the clock.
The first half of Fridays match ended with Monticello (4-3) enjoying a 23-18 lead.
Both teams had played hard. They mixed it up with a solid perimeter game, as well as good drives to the basket. The defense on both ends was strong.
Monticellos first-year varsity player Shane Jones was a standout, hitting field goals from close and mid-range, blocking shots, grabbing steals and holding down rebounds. He finished the evening with 11 points.
The Panthers also received excellent play from Mike Normann, who scored 14 points. He was a major presence down low, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. Wayne Fletcher was a key to the win, with his superb defensive play, which included several steals.
SW (4-2) received tenacious play from Kevin Brewer, who played all aspects of the game with great intensity. He finished with a team-high nine points.
The Bulldogs displayed some nice outside shooting in the first quarter before moving on to a more aggressive drive-to-the-basket attitude in the second period.
Derek Hahn added eight points for the squad, while grabbing rebounds and blocking a shot.
But the story of the night was clearly Cooper, who scored a game-high 26 points. Nearly every shot he took went right through the basket, including a good-looking runner early on in the first half.
When the Monties walked onto the court in the third quarter, they were a different team altogether. All of the Panthers stepped it up a notch.
Cooper started hitting shot after shot, including one dazzling field goal near the 3-point line where he hung in the air before releasing it. He began to drive to the basket more as well, culminating in a sensational dunk which brought the large crowd to a frenzy.
His final shot of the third quarter was a 3-pointer with three seconds left to cap one of the great performances in a quarter in Monticellos storied basketball history.
The score after the Monties brilliant quarter run was 50-22, effectively ending the game. Midway through the fourth quarter, both teams sent their substitute players into the game.
Following the game, Monticello Coach Dick ONeill was candid in how he was able to motivate his players into their dominating third quarter performance.
I told them you really have to impose your will on them in the first three or four minutes, ONeill said.
He described Cooper as one of the great all-time players he has coached.
He is very good, very talented, ONeill commented. He loves to play the game. He is much stronger on the ball this year
He is realizing his potential. He is only going to get better.
When told that Cooper had 17 points in the quarter, ONeill was quite impressed.
Brad went nuts. He cracked it open, said ONeill.
The veteran coach credited Fletcher with holding Brewer to just nine points.
He has been brilliant in every game
He stops their best defensive player, ONeill said.
ONeill credited the Bulldogs with being well-coached and playing hard.
Anybody who plays hard has a chance, he commented.