Redhawks entering 'important' stretch

Jan. 28, 2013 @ 04:17 PM

MONROE — It’s a critical week for Monroe High’s boys basketball team.
The Redhawks (11-3, 5-2 RRC), who are currently in third place in the Rocky River Conference, play at second-place Piedmont (14-2, 6-1 RRC) Tuesday and travel to first-place Cuthbertson (16-1, 7-0 RRC) on Friday.
“It’s important for us and for them, too,” said Monroe coach Johnny Sowell of facing the Panthers. “Piedmont has one loss and in order for them to stay in second with a chance for first they know they have to beat us. It’s very important.”
Sowell hopes his team can learn from their first regular season meeting with the Panthers at home on Jan. 9. Piedmont recorded a 53-46 win, but the Redhawks trimmed the lead to two in the final minutes after trailing by double digits.
“We’ve had a chance to evaluate (Piedmont) and us since then,” said Sowell. “We’ve gotten some more playing time in. At that time we were still behind as far as getting stuff in. We’ve got everything in now and we’re just fine-tuning it. I’m not taking anything away from Piedmont but we didn’t do a lot of things we should have done in the first game, especially down the stretch.”
Monroe will try to avenge one of its toughest losses of the season at Cuthbertson on Friday.
The Redhawks held a 63-62 lead before Cavs senior guard Emmitt Afam drove the lane for a lay-in with just over two seconds left for a 64-63 win on Jan. 4.
Cuthbertson is ranked No. 1 in the 2A state poll by ncpreps.com and returns five starters that played for the 2A state championship last season.
Sowell believes playing teams like Piedmont and Cuthbertson will help the Redhawks in the long run.
“Playing teams like Piedmont and Cuthbertson will benefit us because those are two of the better 2A teams in the state,” said Sowell. “We’re helping each other right now because I think they get a lot out of playing us, too.” 
Monroe, which has won four straight, relies on the scoring of junior guard Brandon Roddy.
As a second-year starter, Roddy ranks second in Union County with an average of 21.9 points per game — nearly 35 percent of his team’s scoring average (62.6).
“Brandon’s scoring and getting it done but he’s got to be that complete player, and we’ve talked about that,” said Sowell. “There’s some other things he has to get better at on the offensive and defensive ends.”