By Aaron Korte
NORWALK - When a team only has four wins come tournament time, it can't make many mistakes if it hopes to last very long in the postseason.
So when Monroeville went more than 10 minutes Tuesday night at Norwalk High School without scoring, it allowed Buckeye Central to erase a six-point deficit and take control for good, winning 47-33.
In the nightcap of the Division IV sectional semifinal, it was a case of different week but same result as Seneca East bested Plymouth for the second time in as many weeks, 59-52.
Buckeye Central (5-18) found itself on its heels late in the first quarter as an 8-2 surge over two minutes left the Eagles in front 16-10 with 2:08 to go in the quarter. But a Sammi Marcum 3-pointer, part of a 10-point effort on the night, cut the lead to three by the quarter break.
The Buckettes used tenacious defense and a bit of good fortune to hold the Eagles (4-17) scoreless as Monroeville went 0 of 10 from the floor, 0 of 4 from the line and had three turnovers.
"We were getting looks, we just could not finish it," Monroeville coach Brad Dunlap said. "We were still running our offense. We didn't change a whole lot but we couldn't put it in the basket."
Meanwhile, Buckeye Central scored 10 points but didn't exactly shoot the lights out from the floor (3 of 10) or the line (3 of 6), but it was enough to give it the 23-16 lead at half.
"It was big. We really picked up our defense and we were able to get out in transition a little bit and score some easy buckets and kind of kept our composure," Buckeye Central coach Sarah Krichbaum said. "I think the last part of our season in our conference, we played some really tough teams and that really helped prepare us for the tournament. We play some really great teams and many times we've had to come back in our games or have been behind so I think that prepared us for tonight. We were able to keep it together and move on."
Monroeville didn't get any closer than five the rest of the way. It didn't help that the Eagles went 2 of 13 from the line on the night.
"That could have kept us in too," Dunlap said. "We have to work in the offseason on shooting. A credit to Buckeye Central. She does a nice job over there. That's a nice win for them."
Buckeye Central had a balanced scoring attack led by Kilee Kimmel's 14 points while Brooke Karl and Marcum each tallied 10. Jenna Delarber had eight rebounds.
"The first half I thought we played a little sloppy but I thought we came out in the second half and just played a little more confident," Krichbaum said. "A little more our pace, and we hit some big shots. I thought everyone contributed well and played a much cleaner second half."
Monroeville freshman Paige Leitz showed she's going to be a force for the next three years as the freshman had a double-double with a game-high 20 points and 14 rebounds.
"They have some big kids down there and they were able to get on us early with some easy buckets inside. We made some changes and adjustments were able to defend that a little better in the paint," Krichbaum said.
If Seneca East coach Dave Stallings had his way, the Tigers (14-9) wouldn't have been playing Plymouth the week after beating the Big Red (5-18) by 21, 68-47.
"I think we played lackadaisical," Stallings said. "I think our girls took them a little soft and the Plymouth coach did a nice job with his game plan. He took things away that we're used to getting and luckily we came out on top.
"I didn't want to have to play them last week and have to play them today," he said. "He did a better job of game planning than I apparently did."
For Plymouth coach Eric Breznicki, it was ideal.
"It gave me a chance to sit back and game plan for a couple of days. I think our game plan was solid," he said. "I think we prepared and we gave it our best shot. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the basketball game and in the end, that's all I can ask for."
Plymouth held a 6-5 lead midway through the first quarter before a seven-point sprint by the Tigers put them in front for good. But it wasn't without drama.
Seneca East took a 20-13 lead into the first quarter break and maintained that margin into intermission, 30-23.
Plymouth cut it to three, 34-31, on two of Courtney Burkett's team-high 16 points, with 2:37 to go in the third. But a 13-2 run that spanned into the fourth quarter put the game seemingly out of reach, 47-33.
Plymouth got it down to five at one point, 49-44, but couldn't overcome the deficit.
"That's about the time when I called a timeout and I just told the girls we need to get back to doing what we do well. I think our girls were forcing a little too much and taking some shots we didn't need to take," Stallings said. "When we were able to get them to commit a few turnovers, that really out helped a lot."
One of the big keys was Seneca East's second chances, as 19 of its 36 rebounds were of the offensive variety.
"Emily Depinet is one of our senior post players and she got moved to the post last year. We've really harped on her, because she's not real big, on her boxing out and getting rebounds," Stalling said. "Ashton (Daniel) has done a nice job of following her shot and getting offensive rebounds. We talk a lot about that in practice."
Breznicki said that was the difference.
"It's just fundamentals and it's something we preach to our young kids all year long. Fundamentals will beat you. That's basketball 101. We always preach taking care of the basketball and rebounding the basketball," Breznicki said of the offensive rebounds and his team's 23 turnovers. "You give another team two and three second-chance opportunities, they're going to beat you."
Depinet led the Tigers with 11 rebounds and Daniel snared nine. The former completed the double-double with 10 points and Daniel led all scorers with 28 points, including four 3-pointers.
"Ashton Daniel is a solid ball player," Breznicki said. "Seneca East, that's a quality basketball team. They have (four) seniors playing out there."
Buckeye Central moves on to face Mohawk on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. back at Norwalk High School. In the night cap, Seneca East will look to extend its tourney run against Norwalk St. Paul.