By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
A group of Monticello players came off the bench midway through the third quarter of the Dec. 18 home boys basketball game against North-Linn, and led a dramatic comeback from a 13-point halftime deficit.
It wasn’t enough, however, as the Lynx outscored Monticello 7-0 in overtime to come away with a 45-38 win. It was the first Tri-Rivers Conference loss of the season for the Panthers (5-1, 5-3).
“It would have been a good game to steal,” Monticello coach Tim Lambert said, “because for two and a half quarters, we didn’t belong on the floor with them.”
North-Linn led 24-13 at halftime, and midway through the third quarter, the Lynx still led by nine.
A group of substitutes came into the game for Monticello, and began mounting a comeback. Jarrett Easton made two consecutive baskets to cut the Lynx lead to 28-25. North-Linn scored once more to lead 30-25 at the end of the third quarter.
“When those kids came off the bench, they sparked us,” Lambert said. “The speed of the game picked up. Suddenly, North-Linn couldn’t handle our press. We quit turning the ball over, and got in the flow of the game. They fed off each other, and played with some emotion.”
To start the fourth quarter, the Panthers whittled the lead to 34-31. Then, steals by Dallas Lumpa and Jacob Black led to a pair of baskets in the span of 12 seconds. Lumpa stole the ball in the Monticello end and drove all the way for a lay-up. Black made a steal near the baseline and flipped the ball to Michael Melchert, who laid the ball in to give the Panthers a 35-34 lead with 4:28 to play.
North-Linn regained a 38-35 lead with 3:22 to play, and then Melchert sank a three-point basket to tie the game 38-38 with 2:56 to play.
The Panthers got the ball back a few seconds later, and ran the clock all the way down to 11.8 seconds before calling time-out. A turnover, however, gave the ball back to the Lynx, who missed a shot that would have won the game in regulation.
That sent the teams to overtime. Neither team scored for more than 2 ½ minutes, until North-Linn’s Jonathon Wolff sank two free throws.
The Lynx added a basket with 26 seconds left in the extra session to take a 42-38 lead, added a free throw with 13.8 seconds left, and two more free throws with 3.7 seconds left. North-Linn outscored the Panthers 7-0 in overtime, and came away with the win.
“For two and a half quarters, we played about half-speed again,” Lambert said. “We have to learn to be more competitive at all times. There’s got to be more fire there, and more passion for the game.”
The Panthers were scheduled to play Dec. 21 at Springville, but last week’s snowstorm caused it to be postponed. It has been rescheduled for Jan. 4.
Monticello will then play a Jan. 5 non-conference game at Maquoketa. On Jan. 8, the Panthers will return to Tri-Rivers play with a home game against Maquoketa Valley.
N.-Linn 10 14 6 8 7 – 45
Monti 4 11 14 13 0 – 38
NORTH-LINN (45) – Hunter Pflughaupt 7-12 6-8 20, Tyler Cherry 1-2 0-1 2, Jonathon Wolff 1-3 4-4 6, Cody Johnson 4-6 3-4 11, Korbi Burkey 1-8 1-4 4, Kyler Burkey 1-1 0-0 2, Andrew McEvoy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-32 14-21 45.
MONTICELLO (38) – Sawyer Herman 0-3 1-2 1, Matt Holmes 1-4 0-0 3, Tim Norton 1-2 0-0 2, Dallas Lumpa 6-9 2-2 14, Daniel Pike 0-2 1-2 1, Jarett Easton 4-5 0-0 8, Michael Melchert 2-4 0-0 5, Jacob Black 2-7 0-0 4, Craig Welter 0-0 0-0 0, Cody Jamison 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-37 4-6 38.
Three-pointers: Ko. Burkey; Melchert, Holmes.
Rebounds: Monticello 22 (Black 5, Pike 4), North-Linn 13.
Total fouls: Monticello 19, North-Linn 9.
PHOTO: Driving for a lay-up Dec. 18 against North-Linn is Monticello senior Dallas Lumpa. (Photo by Pete Temple)