Monroe overcomes rough start and blasts West 75-45

FAIRBANKS-Boileau Hall was packed tonight to see an early season matchup between the 4A and 3A state favorites coming into the 2013-2014 season. The Monroe Rams thrived in the playoff type atmosphere and ran away from the Eagles 75-45.

West was able to handle the early game jitters and hit a few shots to start the game. It looked as if Deandre Wilson would continue to pour in points. He had seven in the first quarter. Wilson was coming off a 22 point night against Lathrop on Friday.

West had 10-3 lead after a Wilson three pointer and were up 13-9 at the end of the first quarter. Monroe had a lot turnovers and missed makeable shots on good looks at the rim. The Eagles were in a 2-3 matchup zone and forced the Rams to take outside shots. Monroe got some penetration and were able to get to the line to stay within reach.

In the second quarter everything changed. The Rams have clawed their way back with stiff defense and free throws got West in the bonus. Monroe led 19 West 15 at the 2:41 of the second quarter. Like clockwork Monroe was in their full court press with  their four point lead, forced a turnover and got back to the free throw line. Wilson did not score after that first quarter.

David Stepovich lead the way for Monroe, providing the spark with defense, offensive rebounding from chasing down shots and playmaking. Stepovich 11 points in the second quarter alone with his ability to get dribble penetration and force fouls. He went 6-9 from the charity stripe in the second quarter. Before you could blink Monroe was up by 10 leading 25-15 with 1:33 to go in the second.

The Rams defense and rebounding stifled the Eagels as Monroe outscored West 20-4 in the second quarter. The Rams took a 29-17 advantage into halftime.

Monroe opened the second half playing their new brand of basketball which is getting up the floor quickly. Stepovich continued to wreak havoc on West with a nine point third quarter. He finished with a game high 21 points.

West did go on a 8-0 run to cut a 17 point deficit nine but Stepovich hit a three to answer the run and gave a Monroe 41-29 lead with 2:30 remaning in the third.

Then in the fourth quarter Scooter Bynum and Jalon McCullough got into the mix. McCullough hit a pair of threes that extended Monroe's lead to 20 points. Bynum went right at 6'8" Brandon Huffman of West and got two And-1 plays on him. Bynum's play and energy denied any threat from West to comeback.

The Rams finished strong with a 75-45 win over the Eagles. Bynum had 15 points and McCullough added 10. Jhayde Zamora had a team high 15 for West.