WOODSFIELD - Teams that want it more usually prevail in high school sports.
It wasn't tough to tell whether Monroe Central or River wanted Friday's game inside the newly constructed Monroe Central High School.
The Seminoles out-hustled and out-played the Pilots in front of a sell-out crowd, cruising to a 71-47 decision.
MONROE CENTRAL’S Cameron Jorris drives to the bucket against River’s Brett Price during Friday’s game in Woodsfield. Jorris scored 17 points as the Seminoles prevailed, 71-47.
"After we beat Caldwell, we had three outstanding practices and it seemd like the kids' personalities changed a little bit," said first-year Seminoles' head coach Lou "Scooter" Tolzda. "We're scrappy, quick and if we play team ball like we hope they can, I really think they can surprise some people."
While Pilots' head coach Mark Romick wasn't surprised, many of his players appeared to be.
"Give Monroe Central credit because they took us out behind the woodshed and gave us an old-fashioned one," Romick said. "They beat us in every facet of the game. We didn't defend anything and gave up second, third and fourth shots."
The Pilots led twice in the entire game at 2-0 and 3-2. From that point on it, it was all Seminoles.
After heading to the second quarter with a 12-10 lead, the Seminoles, who were in early foul trouble, exerted their will on the Pilots, who seemingly slept walk the remainder of the game. Monroe closed the half on a 14-2 run.
"I thought the first quarter was the key," Tolzda said. "We survived that foul trouble we got ourselves in. We had to go deep into our bench, but we held our own. I thought that really allowed us to settle down and loosen up a little bit."
Seniors Cameron Jorris and Korey Lafferre had the hot hands in the first half and throughout the contest, for that matter, for the Seminoles. Lafferre went for seven of his 15 in the second, while Jorris scored eight of his game-high 17 in the first half.
Both teams picked up exactly where they left off in the first half. The Seminoles were playing with all sorts of intensity, while the Pilots continued to struggle and looked out of sync on both ends.
Monroe Central outscored the Pilots, 22-14, in the third for a 59-33 upperhand entering the final chapter.
It got so frustrating for Romick that he decided to send a message to his team by yanking all of his starters after Jorris got his own rebound on a missed free throw and laid the ball back in for two points.
"You know, sometimes if you get told you're good long enough, you don't always focus the way you should," Romick said. "You can easily become complacent and if that happens, a good ball team can get you. We played complacently tonight and Monroe Central just gave us one."
The balanced Seminoles also received double-figure scoring from Josh Guiler and Bryan Duffy with 11 and 10, respectively.
River, meanwhile, was paced by Chad Isaly's 11 and Matt Marconi's 10. Eric Dierkes added nine points.
Meanwhile, the Pilots' top returning scorers - Brett Price and Jordan Indermuhle - were limited to six and seven, respectively.
"This is without a doubt a wake-up call for our kids," Romick said. "We'll find out what we're made of Tuesday when Fort Frye comes to town. There's no excuse for not playing hard. You're only promised 22 regular season games and we don't get to play this one over again."
Monroe Central, now 2-0 on the season and in its new gym, will make a road trip to Shenandoah.
"This win is a feather in a cap, but I told the kids, 'I hope this isn't the highlight of our season,'" Tolzda said. "We've got 20 more games to go. River's going to win a lot of games and I really think the sky is the limit for them. Our effort tonight was unbelievable and hopefully we can keep getting better."
The Seminoles owned a 33-29 edge on the boards. The Pilots were charted for 20 turnovers, which was eight more than the winners.
Monroe made it a clean sweep with a decisive 75-51 victory in the prelim.
RIVER (47) - Marconi 3, 4-4 10; Isaly 3, 5-9 11; R. Indermuhle 0, 0-0 0; Dierkes 4, 1-3 9; Brown 0, 0-0 0; J. Indermuhle 3, 0-2 7; Ramsier 0, 0-0 0; Caldwell 1, 0-0 3; Price 2, 2-3 6; Eggleston 0, 1-2 1; Totals: 16, 13-23 47. MONROE CENTRAL (71) - C. Jorris 5, 5-9 17; Antil 2, 0-0 4; Logston 0, 0-0 0; Z. Jorris 1, 1-2 3; Lafferre 4, 7-8 15; Burkhart 0, 0-0 0; Brown 3, 1-4 7; Duffy 2, 6-8 10; Schuerman 0, 0-0 0; Hill 0, 0-0 0; Guiler 4, 3-3 11; Kuhn 2, 0-0 4; Alleman 0, 0-0 0; Yontz 0, 0-2 0; Totals: 23, 23-36 71.
Three-Point Goals: R - Caldwell, J. Indermuhle. MC - C. Jorris (2).