The Cubs entered the tournament with a 4-11 record and promptly dropped the first game of the bracketed play to Miami (Okla.), 54-42.
It was at that point Goetz and company made the decision to bring up a trio of freshmen (Cameron Witt, Jonah Paszek and Logan Coones) to the varsity roster.
The coaching staff's faith in their youth would be well-founded.
On Jan. 25 the purple and gold earned a hard fought 67-61 victory over Springfield's Central High School.
"I told the boys to keep their composure," said Goetz. "We were a little tight and just needed to settle down."
The Cubs closed the first quarter with an 8-5 push to trail 16-11 after one period.
Senior sharp-shooter Kyle Woods willed the Cubs to a 20-20 tie at the 4:14 mark with 7 consecutive points. Aaron Patton gave Monett its first lead (22-20) with a nice pivot in the post and a teardrop floater in the lane with 3:29 remaining.
At the 2:37 mark in of the second quarter, Goetz moved his trio of freshmen into the game. While notably smaller than their opponents, the young Cubs didn't disappoint.
Witt and Paszek showed skill on the defensive end, slowing down Central's ball handler. While neither would break into the scoring column, their defensive value was huge.
Coones on the other hand made an instant impact on the scoreboard.
Trailing 24-22 with a 1:45 left in the first half, Coones stepped into the passing lane as the Bulldogs tried to inbound the ball. He stole the pass and threw the ball to Patton who promptly scored to tie the game.
Two possessions later, Coones' theft of another pass led to his first varsity points in the form of a layup at the 1:15 mark and a 28-26 Cubs lead.
Leading 30-26, Monett held the ball for the final shot of the first half. With the Bulldogs smothering Woods, the ball found its way to Coones in the left corner. He calmly buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the purple and gold a 33-26 halftime lead.
The Cubs continued their great team play in the third quarter.
Monett had been hurt all year by other teams getting second and third chance points. Patton and Caleb Blue remedied that and pulled down several defensive rebounds that limited the Bulldogs' second chance points in the third quarter.
Central took a brief 38-37 lead in the third period but a Patton put-back ignited an 8-0 spurt to give Monett a 45-38 edge after three periods.
Central wouldn't fade in the final eight minutes and took a 50-47 lead with 4:56 left in regulation.
A 3-pointer and a layup by Woods gave Monett a 52-50 lead with 4:15 remaining.
The Bulldogs then built a 56-52 lead with 2:37 to go only to watch Coones sink two free throws and Blue power up a layup to tie the game in the next 25 seconds.
With the score tied 59-59, it was the shortest and youngest player on the court who hit one of the biggest shots.
Coones took a pass from the right circle, drove to the baseline and drilled a seven-foot jumper with 57 seconds left to give the Cubs a 61-59 edge.
Woods stole the ball on Central's next possession and made a layup while getting fouled. His free throw completed the old fashioned 3-point play to give the Cubs a 64-59 lead with 44 seconds left.
"Central made runs at us in every quarter," said Goetz. "We responded; that is something that we have struggled with all season. It was a team win."
Scoring for Central: D'Angelo Bedell, 18 points; Bradley Harden and Tavion Neal, 12 each; Jordan Johnson, 6; Kendrick Price, Steven Jones, 4 apiece; Isiah Holeyfield, 3; and Landon Shelton, 2.
Scoring for Monett: Woods, 35 points; Patton, 12; Coones, 9; Blue, 5; Chad Swanson, 4; and Elijah George, 2.
|The victory over Central the day before sent the Cubs into a consolation championship game with Southwest.|
It was the same Trojan squad that handed the purple and gold a 63-46 homecoming loss on Jan. 18.
Monett entered the game and looked to prove that the effort, energy and newly found team chemistry from the Central game wasn't a fluke.
The Cubs served notice early on that they were ready to play and held on for a 58-57 victory.
The game was a contrast in styles. Southwest is a very good perimeter shooting team. In fact the Trojans hit 11 3-pointers against Monett.
The Cubs chose to attack the paint. One look at the black and bruised arms of Patton, Blue and Swanson after the game told that story.
One of the funniest conversations during the contest held was between Southwest coach Jess Ross and an official after a foul call.
"You can't call a foul based on sound alone." said Ross.
"Well, it wasn't the sound of a hand hitting the basketball," responded the official.
After a back and forth first period, the Trojans led 12-11 after one quarter of play.
Southwest opened the second quarter with a triple from Brad Daniels, followed by a short jumper by Jordan Epling to take a 17-11 lead.
Instead of folding, Monett sprung into action. Woods buried back-to-back 3-pointers then hit a driving layup to give the Cubs a 20-18 lead.
"Kyle was clutch for two games," said Goetz. "You look at the scorebook and you think that he might have been selfish. He wasn't. He did a great job of getting our whole team involved."
Southwest, usually known for its hustle and scrappiness was consistently beat by a more determined Monett squad to loose balls.
|The Cubs stayed in an extended two-three defensive zone, inviting the Trojans to keep shooting the 3-point shot.|
While the Trojans, scored 33 points via the triple, Southwest showed little desire to attack the rim.
Its players made six field goal shots inside the arc the entire game.
Woods hit a driving layup as time expired at the end of the first half to send the Cubs into the locker room with a 24-23 lead.
Monett doubled its lead in the third period to lead 41-39 to start the fourth period.
The Trojans battled hard using the long bomb to stay close. An Epling 3-pointer gave Southwest a 51-48 lead with 5:34 remaining.
Monett countered with a long-distance connection from Coones to knot the score.
Woods' offense and the Cubs' defense did the rest. Woods hit two free throws with 1:20 remaining to give Monett a 58-54 lead.
Monett then switched to a man-to-man defense that held the Trojans without a shot for 45 seconds.
Eppling finally hit a trey as time expired but it was too little, too late.
"I am very proud of the grit and determination of this team," said Goetz. "We had diving bodies on the floor and showed great hustle.
"I think we showed some maturity by beating a team who soundly beat us a week ago," continued Goetz. "Getting two (wins) in a row is huge for our confidence. The team bought in and did a great job."
Scoring for Southwest: Epling, 24 points; James Pettit, 18; Austin Ross and Brad Daniels 5 each; Drew Farrer, 4; Josh Cutberth, 1.
Scoring for Monett: Woods, 30 points; Patton, 12; Coones, 7; Swanson, 6 and Zach Hammond, 3.
Monett will be in action on Jan. 29 at Diamond. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.