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Cheese fades after coming on strong
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HANOVER, Ill. - It was the tale of two sides for Monroe's boys basketball team Saturday at the River Ridge Shootout.

After a great first quarter in which the Cheesemakers jumped out to a 21-14 lead, Monroe found itself on the losing end to Dubuque Senior (Iowa), 67-58.

"When we're aggressive, we give ourselves a chance, and when we back down, we don't look real good," Monroe head coach Pat Murphy said.

The offense was in full force in the first quarter as the Cheesemakers hit from both inside the paint and beyond the 3-point line.

"We see a team that's going to play finesse and we'll attack the heck out of them," assistant coach Brian Bassett said. "But as soon as they start pushing back, kind of like a Stoughton, we fade back and stop attacking."

In the second quarter, the Cheesemakers slowed down the offense and the Rams picked up their end. Dubuque exploded for 20 points in the frame while holding Monroe to just nine, and went into the half ahead 34-30.

"We had them on their heels in the first quarter, but it was the other way around the rest of the game. It's our season wrapped into one game," Bassett said.

The Rams brought heavy pressure in the third quarter, speeding up the pace of the game while drawing eight fouls in the period. Monroe had 19 turnovers in the game.

"When a team gets more physical than we are, we don't handle it too well. We have to get stronger," Murphy said. "We really pride ourselves and passing and catching the ball and how many turnovers did we have? It was ridiculous. They go too hard and too fast and they were throwing the ball around the gym. I know they were pressuring us, but there were many unforced turnovers too."

Monroe found itself down by 12 headed into the fourth quarter, 50-38. The Cheesemakers also knew that seemingly every foul in the fourth would put the Rams on the line for two free throws.

"Unfortunately, we had a lot of times where we went one out of two free throws. And we kept fouling No. 20 (Brian Harter, 12 points) and he kept making free throw after free throw," Murphy said.

Monroe brought the score to as close as five points (55-50) and twice trailed by six, but the gap never closed.

"We sat at about six points for a long time it seemed like. If we could have gotten it to one possession, maybe we would get them more on their heels," Murphy said.

Dubuque hit 13 of 22 free throws in the fourth, which was enough to hold off the Cheesemakers.

Kevin Frint had 18 points and seven rebounds and Michael Barrett had 17 points, five boards and four assists. Bryan Tordoff, who sprained his ankle a week ago in a Feb. 6 loss to Freeport, scored 13 points and had five rebounds.

"It's good that Kevin's come out of his shell, but now he's got to keep attacking at all times," Bassett said. "I don't know if he gets tired or what it is, but at times he hides in the shadows. He should have his hands wide open and wanting the ball all the time. When he's playing at the top of his game, there are very few guys who can stop him."

Monroe (13-5, 8-2 Badger South) is now 2-4 this season in Saturday games, with losses to Stoughton, Waunakee, Freeport and now Dubuque.

"The tough part about that is when you get into the playoffs, the regional final, the sectional final and the state final are all on Saturdays. If we want to get to those games, we have to find a way to win," Murphy said.