PORT CLINTON — One down. Seven to go.
The second number that would get Monroeville's boys' basketball team to the state finals might be a bit optimistic, but that kind of optimism carried the Eagles to a 75-73 opening round Division IV sectional tournament win over Danbury Lakeside Tuesday at Port Clinton High School.
Monroeville, which improved to 6-15 overall, has another big hurdle to clear at 6:15 p.m. Friday against Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic, the sectional's top seed at 14-6.
"This kind of performance was not completely unexpected," Eagles coach Zac Reer said. "We have won five of the last 11 after that slow start. This, however, is the win the program needed. It is payment to those young men who have worked so hard to turn this thing around."
"This is also some sort of thanks to those fans who have stuck with us over the years," the coach added. "They are there. The students are there. That's the first place I headed after the game, the student section. They were a factor."
And to say it has been a while since Monroeville won a tournament game would be an understatement. How about 1986 when Reer was 5 year old.
The key for the Eagles was they had Danbury playing their style of run-and-gun basketball.
"Yeah, they did," Reer said. "And they did a good job of it in the first half. I was hoping they would cool off a bit in the second and they did just enough."
Both teams had its share of runs. Lakeside (9-12) did so in the first quarter, twice shooting out to sizable leads only to be reeled back in on the strength of the shooting of Ross Stieber and Greg Hauler. That allowed it to be a workable deficit, 28-23, going into the second period.
Danbury made 11-of-14 shots from the field in that first quarter. But, the Eagles had taken the Lakers best shot and was still right there.
Jake Spettle came off the bench to pop in back-to-back goals to spark his team early in the second period. His three-ball got it to within a point. Nick O'Neil then tied the game at 35-35, but despite his five-goal period, Danbury still led 52-47 at halftime.
After seemingly taking the second quarter off, Stieber went to work from the outside in the third period, scoring twice on long three-point shots and adding two other goals to lead his team to a 18-8 scoring advantage and a 65-60 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Both teams missed shot after shot in the early going of the final period. They combined to miss their first seven. Jordan Ringenberg's bucket got it to 67-60.
Danbury sub, Cameron Roth put his team on the board for the first time in the final quarter with a pair from the line with 4:42 remaining.
From that point on, it was Danbury's three shooting versus anything Monroeville good scrape in. Three times the Lakers lobbed in triples, the last one with 65 seconds left, getting them the lead back at 73-72.
Hauler tied the game, making the front end of a two-shot foul situation with 52 ticks left. Danbury retrieved the miss, but threw the ball away in the back court with 36 seconds left.
The Eagles then won it with a well-conceived back door play between Ringenberg and O'Neil.
Danbury still had time enough for two three attempts. Hauler ripped down the first miss, but missed both foul shots, which gave the Lakers another crack at winning it with seven seconds remaining. But Roth's 40-footer missed to the right as the buzzer sounded.
O'Neil ended up with 25 points, including all of Monroeville's points from the field in that final quarter. Stieber added 19 points, 10 in the third quarter.
Danbury received 18 points from Mike Hamman.
After that red-hot first quarter shooting performance, Danbury cooled to 26-of-54 (48 percent) for the game, including 7-of-23 in the second half, 15-of-25 (60 percent) from the stripe.
Monroeville went 27-of-63 (43 percent), going 10-of-18 in the second and 12-of-22 (55 percent) from the line.
Both team's had 32 rebounds. O'Neil ripped off 10, while Ben Cantu had 11 for Joe Miller's team.
Monroeville committed 11 turnovers to 21 for Danbury.
Bores 0-1-1, Stieber 7-2-19, Hauler 2-3-8, Ringenberg 1-4-6, O'Neil 11-2-25, Sparks 1-0-3, Spettle 3-0-8, Schafer 1-0-3, Kerner 1-0-2. Totals: 27-12-75.
Hamman 5-5-18, Turinsky 1-0-2, Schafer 4-2-13, Wiedenhoft 8-1-17, Cantu 6-3-15, Twarek 1-0-2, Westune 0-2-2, Cameron 1-2-4. Totals: 26-15-73.
Monroeville 23 24 18 10 75
Danbury 28 24 8 13 73