BYESVILLE - The emotions and stakes were high Saturday as Buckeye Trail and Monroe Central met for the fourth time this season.
Unfortunately for the Seminoles, those emotions got the best of them at times and, therefore, the Warriors were able to win the stakes and advance to the Division III Eastern District Tournament in the process.
Capitalizing on a 32 of 46 effort from the free-throw line, the Warriors ousted the Seminoles, 70-62 before a large crowd inside Meadowbrook High School.
"Don't underestimate the fact that Buckeye Trail is a good team," Monroe Central coach Lou "Scooter" Tolzda said. "Maybe because of some of the teams we've played down the stretch, it can be easy to overlook them, but Trail is right up there with them. I really believe they're as good as anyone in the district and they have a shot at making the regionals."
The Warriors will need two victories this week at Ohio University Eastern if they're going to make the trip to Athens for the 'Sweet 16.' The district tournament opens at 6 p.m. Tuesday against Garaway (19-4).
The victory was the third in the four meetings against the Seminoles with the last two being in big-game atmospheres. The prior meeting came almost three weeks ago in the semifinals of the OVAC Tournament.
"I don't know if we had their number or not, but we made some plays when we needed to," Trail coach Rod Gray said. "They've got a talented bunch of kids and Scooter does a great job with them. We feel fortunate to be moving on."
The emotions got the best of Tolzda early. He was whacked with a technical foul less than three minutes into the contest and basically from that point on the Warriors had seized the momentum.
"The kids put their hearts into it and they wanted to win really badly," Tolzda said. "It gets frustrating when things don't go your way. But, we kept talking to the kids about handling adversity."
The third quarter proved to be too much for the Seminoles to overcome. Struggling from the floor, Monroe Central watched the Warriors explode on a 14-2 run before the Seminoles' Tanner Burkhart connected on a buzzer beating triple, making it 53-37.
During the third, Trail's Josh Toland and Lane Starr each had six points in the period.
The Warriors, thanks to 11 of 20 at the the line in the fourth, never let Monroe Central get closer than an eight.
Splendid senior guard Zac Roe had 17 points to lead the way, but just two field goals. C.J. Beaver, who had the hot hand in the first half, finished with 15. Starr and Caleb Gray each had 11, while Toland had 12 points and 20 boards.
Lafferre and hard-working junior Levi Brown each had 14 points to lead the Seminoles. Josh Guiler had 10 points and five rebounds.