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Nathan Monroe catches fire to lift Farmington boys to 4A-1 title

Monroe hit eight 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 28 points.

By Steve Andrews| Photos by Sadie Rucker

PEA RIDGE — Farmington senior Nathan Monroe was ablaze Saturday night, knocking down eight 3-pointers to finish with a game-high 28 points and leading the Cardinals to the 4A-1 Conference Tournament championship in Blackhawk Arena.

The Cardinals (27-1) hit 15 triples in all en route to a 76-45 victory over Berryville.

“We shot it well tonight,” Farmington coach Johnny Taylor said. “Nathan Monroe simply shot the eyes out of it. I don’t think he could have played any better. He has been playing well for about seven or eight games, so I just hope he keeps it going. If he can keep doing that, we’ll be hard to guard.”

When Monroe wasn’t shooting it, it was his teammates torching the nets. Sophomore Layne Taylor, the team’s leading scorer this season, finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds.

Berryville (22-6) kept it close in the first quarter, taking a 6-5 lead on a layup by senior Weston Teague. But Farmington quickly responded with a 9-0 run over the next five minutes. Taylor kissed a soft turn-around jumper off the glass, then picked up a loose ball and went coast-to-coast for a layup to give the Cardinals a 14-6 early in the second quarter.

Monroe and Taylor, who combined to score all 26 of Farmington’s second-quarter points, drained consecutive 3-pointers to boost the margin to 12. Another baseline bomb from Monroe then made it 25-13 with 4:41 to play in the half.

“I was feeling good, and my teammates just kept getting me open shots,” Monroe said. “We just have great team chemistry, on and off the court. We are all friends and just enjoy being around each other.”

The 6-foot-8 Teague has been Berryville’s dominant offensive force all season, scoring 30 in the Bobcats’ semifinal win over Harrison on Friday. But the Cardinals were able to clog the paint with 6-4 senior Carson Dearing and 6-foot-1 junior Caleb Blakely and held Teague to just 12 points.

“Our depth and our bench, and how hard we play defensively just helps us tremendously,” Coach Taylor said. “We just have all the pieces to continue to be special, we just hope we can stay healthy and continue to play they way we have been playing.”

Monroe opened the second half with a pair of threes, but it was senior Mateo Carbonel’s 3-pointer from the baseline that game Farmington it’s largest lead on 57-29 with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter.

After Monroe opened the fourth quarter with his final three of the night, both coaches emptied their benches to give some of the younger players some game experience.

Carbonel finished with 9 points for the Cardinals, while Kade Davidson added 10 for the Bobcats.

“Our kids played hard, but Farmington played really well, shot the ball really well,” Bobcats’ coach Brent Compton said. “And when they’ve got more than (Layne) Taylor putting it in the basket, they will make it tough on anybody. It was their night tonight, so hopefully we can get another chance at them and see what we can do next time.

“We are proud to have made it to the finals, but we have to put this one behind us and look to next week and hopefully make the state tournament.”

The 4A North Regional Tournament will take place next weekend at Farmington. Berryville will open with Dardanelle, while the host Cardinals prepare to face Pottsville in their opener. Taylor likes his team’s advantage of playing at home.

“It’s huge because of how familiar we are with shooting in our own gym,” he said. “Everything is stacked in our favor, but we’ve still got to come out with the same confidence and effort we have been playing with up until this point.”

Consolation game

Harrison (15-13) had four players score in double-figures Saturday, including junior Kason Hilligoss, who dropped in a game-high 21. The Goblins defeated Shiloh Christian 77-48 in the consolation game of the 4A-1 Conference tournament.

Gatlin James added 17 for Harrison, with Abraham Glidewell chipping in 15 and Timber Crenwelge with 12. Junior Bodie Neal paced Shiloh with 15.

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