BY TRAVIS DAVID
MONROE CITY — Jaedyn Robertson may be listed as a junior on the roster, but the maturity he has shown over the last half of the season exudes that of a seasoned senior.
Two months after Monroe City coach Brock Edris held Robertson from a game during the Tony Lenzini Tournament, the Panther junior made the biggest play of the season.
Robertson broke a 49-all deadlock by sinking a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds left in Friday night’s Class 3 state quarterfinal contest against No. 6 Christian. The game-winning free throws send Monroe City to the Final Four next weekend for the second straight season with the 51-49 thriller.
“That was for my teammates,” Robertson said. “They all played way too hard for me to miss those…at first I was nervous but they told me it was just like practice and that helped me knock them down.”
Jaedyn Robertson with the game-winning free throw with :01.1 left on the clock to send Monroe City back to the Final Four in Springfield … pic.twitter.com/lkHG4gW1cM
— Travis David (@TDavid_21) March 6, 2021
Edris became a little emotional when talking about Robertson coming up clutch at the end.
“I am just so proud of what he has accomplished,” the Panthers’ coach said of Robertson. “Just to see the maturity of the kid right before your eyes…every kid has their own different situation and as coaches, it’s our responsibility to reach every one of them.
“We felt like it (benching) was the best thing for him and the team at that point and he really responded and he is fully committed to the team concept.”
The free throws were not the only big shots of the game for Robertson.
Trailing 33-26 with just over five minutes left in the third quarter, the Panther reserve player knocked down a three-pointer from the corner. It was the first made field goal for Monroe City since Logan Buhlig scored on an inbounds play with two minutes left in the first half.
Robertson also sparked the Panthers’ comeback in the fourth. Trailing 48-42 after Roddy Alexander buried a three from the win, Robertson scored at the rim to pull Monroe City to within 48-44 with 2:57 left in the game.
Both of Robertson’s shots in the third and fourth came on assists from Josiah Talton.
On the Panthers’ next possession, Buhlig was on the receiving end of a Talton assist with a corner three to trim the Eagles’ lead to 48-47 with 2:20 remaining.
Joshua Talton gave the Panthers their first lead of the game since early in the second quarter on a pair of free throws with 1:21 left in the game.
Christian split a pair of freebies with 59.5 seconds left in the game to force the tie.
Monroe City ran the clock down to 22 seconds left before calling a timeout and called a second timeout with just over seven seconds left to set up a game-winning play.
Christian looked to have come up with a steal on an inbounds pass, but the Eagles were whistled for a foul before the steal.
On a second inbounds play, Kyle Hays found Robertson on the block and he was fouled going up for the shot.
“There was supposed to be a back screen for Logan but they (Christian) had protection and they also had two players going out with Joshua,” Hays explained of the inbounds. “I heard Jaedyn clap his hands calling for the ball, I made the pass and he did the rest.”
Hays stated he knew the game was over with his teammate going to the line.
“He has waited for a moment like this all season, I knew he was going to make those,” Hays said of Robertson. “He loves coming off the bench and he just does whatever he can to make the team better. And tonight he showed what he can do.”
Christian was able to get off one last shot from the halfcourt but the attempt fell inches short of the rim.
“Just a hard way to end the season,” Christian coach Adam Glenville said. “Hats off to Monroe Cty, we knew we would be getting its best but it’s just tough. Going into the fourth with a 6-point lead then a couple of ill-advised turnovers, a couple of questionable calls. But you can’t blame it on the refs, it’s not on them…just a heartbreaker.”
Monroe City jumped out to a 13-4 lead at the 3:30 mark of the first quarter.
Christian used its defense to climb back into the game. The Eagles scored on three steals and trimmed the deficit to 20-16 heading into the second.
Monroe City connected on six of seven shots from the field in the first.
Cold shooting plagued the Panthers in the second. Christian took advantage of a 2-for-8 shooting effort in the second by the Panthers to grab a 29-26 lead at the break.
Christian (20-6), who defeated Monroe City in a 2018 sectional game, was led by Alexander’s game-high 20 points.
Joshua Talton paced the Panthers with 19 points while Robertson added 10.
Josiah Talton scored just three points but dished out five assists and pulled down four rebounds. Three of the helpers came in the second half.
Monroe City (26-2) will face No. 5 Summit Christian Academy in next Friday’s second state semifinal game from Springfield.
SCA defeated St. Pius X Friday night, 60-55.
“This means a lot to me and this program,” Edris said of a second Final Four berth. “You don’t get this opportunity many times and to do it on our home floor is something great. Who knows if Monroe City will ever get to host another quarterfinal game. But to do this and make our community proud is pretty awesome.”