MONROE CITY, Mo. -- The success of the Monroe City football team tends to make the month of December a little difficult for the boys basketball team.
Panthers coach Brock Edris doesn't mind.
The Panthers were sluggish and sloppy in taking a one-point halftime lead, but they shot 58 percent in the second half and put away Mark Twain 59-42 on Wednesday night in the semifinals of the 93rd annual Monroe City Tournament.
Monroe City (4-0), which has won the past two tournament titles, will play either Palmyra or Louisiana in the championship game at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Several basketball players were members of the football team that won the Class 1 state championship on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Less than two weeks later, the Panthers were missing 15 of 23 shots in the first half against Mark Twain's zone that was anchored by 6-foot-7 Grant Peters.
"We were very stagnant," Edris said. "It didn't matter what I was saying from the sideline. There was no need to be looking over at us. The five on the floor have to get it worked out. We were holding the ball. We were just dead."
Once Monroe City started attacking the Tigers on offense, the zone broke down and the Panthers found easy shots. Post players Jess Greiman, Brad Cheek and Michael Ryan combined to make all eight of their shots in the second half.
The Panthers forced six turnovers in the third quarter and outscored the Tigers 21-11 to take a 41-30 lead.
"The ball was sticking (in the first half), and we couldn't get our shots," junior guard C.E. Talton said. "We started moving the ball, and Coach got on us. We started to get to the rim and pass to the open man."
Peters had seven points in the first half, but he only scored one basket in the second half.
"All our guys want to get their shots, but I tell them if we get it inside first, you'll get those shots," Tigers coach Cody McCann said. "In the first half, we did a great job of that. We took some hurried shots in the third quarter, and if we take bad shots, it's going to lead to points for (Monroe City)."
Mark Twain was only down 48-37 after a 3-pointer by Devin Neff midway through the fourth quarter, but an eight-point run by the Panthers, capped by a three-point play by Talton, put the game away.
Talton, one of the players who didn't play football, led Monroe City with 16 points. Greiman and Zach Osborn had 12 each.
"The (football) guys aren't in the best shape yet, but they're getting there," Talton said. "It'll be hard for a little bit, but we'll be all right."
Edris, an assistant coach on the football team, is getting used to a hectic first few weeks of basketball season.
"I wouldn't trade it for anything," he said. "I wish the football team would do it every year. We have plenty of guys who don't play football who can play.
"We'll improve as the season goes on, and it'll make things easier when (the football players) get into shape. We've still got plenty of things to work on."
Peters finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Corbin Eckler came off the bench to score 20 points for the Tigers (2-3).
Monroe City 59, Mark Twain 42
MARK TWAIN (3-2)
Grossman 0-1 0-0 0, Barton 1-4 0-1 2, P. Eckler 1-7 0-0 3, Neff 1-5 0-0 3, Peters 4-7 5-13 13, Epperson 1-1 0-0 2, C. Eckler 7-11 4-4 20, Elliott 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-36 9-18 42.
MONROE CITY (4-0)
Hays 1-7 0-0 2, Osborn 4-7 4-5 12, Greiman 6-6 0-0 12, Stark 0-3 1-2 1, Talton 5-11 3-5 16, McAfee 0-0 0-0 0, Battle 1-5 0-0 2, Kendrick-O'Bryan 2-4 0-0 6, Ryan 3-3 0-0 6, Cheek 1-2 0-0 2, Underhill 0-0 0-0 0, Chapman 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-49 8-12 59.
Mark Twain 7 12 11 12--42
Monroe City 8 12 21 18--59
3-point field goalsMonroe City 5-13 (Talton 3-5, Kendrick-O'Bryan 2-4, Hays 0-4, Battle 0-2), Mark Twain 3-9 (C. Eckler 2-4, Neff 1-2, P. Eckler 0-3). Rebounds--Monroe City 29 (Stark 5), Mark Twain 24 (Peters 8). Turnovers--Mark Twain 19, Monroe City 12. Fouls--Mark Twain 14, Monroe City 16. Fouled out--none. Officials--Terry Gibbs, Ray Turnbull.