BYESVILLE -- Monroe Central was coming off an emotional third meeting with rival River on Wednesday night and head coach Scooter Tolzda was concerned that mentally his team might be a little flat going into Friday night's Division III Sectional game against West Muskingum at Meadowbrook High School.
His Seminoles showed they were up for the task as they dispatched the Tornadoes by a 70-61 margin.
"We feel like we have played a tough schedule down the stretch with Magnolia and Buckeye Trail and River twice on the road," said the veteran Tolzda. "Korey (Lafferre) has the flu so we were a little concerned after a light practice yesterday that we might have some trouble getting up for this game."
CENTRAL’S Cameron Jorris goes up for a bucket during Friday’s Division III sectional opener against West Muskingum at Meadowbrook High School in Byesville. Jorris led all Seminole scorers with 16 points as Monroe Central advanced to the sectional co-final one week from today. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
The 'Noles led 19-16 after the first quarter and were pulling away in the second frame but the Tornadoes rallied just before the break.
"They were right on the edge of crumbling right before the half but they scored six and they got back some momentum," Tolzda stated as his squad would have their double digit lead narrowed to eight points at the break. "We came out in the third flat. We knew they had some good players and they were able to get back in it."
West Muskingum would get back to even at 37 apiece at the 5:25 mark in the stanza. The two teams would battle back and forth until the Seminoles regained their composure and it was anybody's game going into the fourth with Monroe clinging to a 48-46 lead.
Cameron Jorris got the fourth started with a pair of treys while scrappy Levi Brown battled into the lane for a pair of jumpers and Josh Guiler muscled his way inside for a pair to get the Seminoles some breathing room.
Lafferre pulled down some key rebounds to boost his game total to a team high eight as Monroe Central's late charge tamed the Tornadoes.
"It's a one-game season now and we still have a pulse," said Tolzda. "We are excited to be playing for the championship next Saturday and if Buckeye Trail wins tomorrow, it will be our fourth game against them this season."
Cameron Jorris would net four from outside the arc to earn top spot on the Seminoles roster with 16 points. Brown and Guiler both contributed 13 points as Levi added a pair of treys and Guiler had five field goals and a 4-5 performance at the foul line.
Monroe Central was 19-35 from two-point and 9 of 17 from three-point range. The Seminoles made just one trip to the foul line in the first half and finished a chilly 5 of 16 from the penalty stripe. The 'Noles pulled down 17 rebounds and made just seven turnovers.
The Seminoles are 14-9 and will find out this afternoon if they face the Warriors or Shenandoah next Saturday back at Byesville.
WEST MUSKINGUM (61) Schmidt 0, 0-2 0; Jasper 2, 0-0 4; Chambers 4, 0-0 9; Tincher 1, 0-0 3; Huey 9, 4-5 22; Pickrell 8, 0-1 18; Engdahl 2, 0-0 5. Totals 26, 4-8. MONROE CENTRAL (70) C. Jorris 6, 0-4 16; Antill 4, 1-2 9; Z. Jorris 2, 0-0 6; Lafferre 4, 0-3 8; Brown 5, 1-3 13; Duffy 2. 0-0 5; Guiler 5, 3-4 13. Totals 28, 5-16.
Three Point Goals: West M (5) Pickrell 2, Chambers, Engdahl, Tincher. Monroe (9) C. Jorris 4, Z. Jorris 2, Brown 2, Duffy.