The Monmouth-Roseville Titans boys basketball team was back in action on Friday night, once again hosting a Three Rivers Conference rival at the Shoebox of Monmouth-Roseville High School. This time it would be the Kewanee Boilermakers coming to town. Not only would it be an important game due to conference implications for M-R, but the Titans also hosted their senior night activities before the game. As for the game it would be a contested battle throughout the entire contest, but the Titans would fall just one point short to a very tough Boilermaker ballclub.
It was an offensive centric back and forth start between both teams in the first quarter. Seniors Darrion Smith, Jake Steele, Nico Avendano, and Ayden Almaguer would open up the scoring quickly for MR, all with baskets near the rim. Almaguer would step out behind the arc later in the quarter knocking down two threes to put the Titans up 19-14 after the first 8 minutes of play. Kewanee would cut into the Titans lead early in the second quarter with several free throws in the early minutes, ultimately tying the game on an and one play from Boilermaker Catrell Reed. Titans junior Payton Thompson put Monmouth-Roseville back on top on a putback layup, but Kewanee would rattle off 6 straight points to put their lead to 27-23. In the final minutes of the half Avendano would turn a steal into an easy layup on the other end, then Almaguer converted on 1 of 2 free throws to push the score to 27-26 in favor of Kewanee after one half of play.
Kewanee would come out of the halftime break hot as they extended their lead to 36-28 past the halfway point in the third quarter. Avendano and Cee Sarcomo helped the Titans break up the Kewanee run, cutting the lead down to 36-32. Avendano would trade baskets with Kewanee’s Brady Clark in the final seconds of the third quarter, sending the game to the final 8 minutes with Mon-Rose trailing by just 2. Right out of the 3rd quarter break, Ayden Almaguer would put the Titans on top 39-38 with a big three to start the 4th. Almaguer pushed the Titans lead to 3 points with a reverse layup, however Brady Clark would respond quickly with a three point play to knot the game back up at 41-41. Clark extended the lead to 47-43 for Kewanee after the halfway point of the 4th, forcing the Titans to spend a timeout.
In the final minutes of the game with the Titans trailing by 5, Ayden Almaguer knocked down a huge three with 32 seconds to play to bring the game within one possession. Blaise Lewis calmly knocked down two free throws to put the Boilermakers back up by 4 with 16 seconds, and on the final possession of the game Darrion Smith banked in a three at the buzzer, but that would leave the Titans one point short as Kewanee escaped with a 52-51 win over Monmouth-Roseville. In the close losing effort, Ayden Almaguer led the scoring with 24 points, Darrion Smith added in 11 while Nico Avendano had 8. The loss for Mon-Rose drops their overall record to 13-11. The Titans will look to rebound on Tuesday next week, when they travel up to Edgington for a rematch with the Rockridge Rockets.