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Monroe rolls by Bridgeport to avenge earlier setback

WOODSFIELD – In a season-opening loss at Bridgeport, Monroe Central Head Coach Jon Perkins admits that his team struggled to break the Bulldogs’ press.

Tuesday night the Seminoles had no such problem, not only breaking Bridgeport’s third-quarter press, but using a game-deciding 28-9 burst that extended into the fourth period to record a revenge victory.

Malachi Rose-Burton scored a game-high 22 points, including 14 in the third quarter, while teaming with seniors Garet Cramer and John Peterson for a combined 44 points and 21 rebounds as Monroe Central celebrated senior night with a convincing 81-53 victory over the Bulldogs on Junior Winland Court inside Monroe Central High School.

A pair of Dylan Gregorcic triples allowed Bridgeport (5-5) to keep pace early on before the hosts gained control with a 17-12 lead after a quarter. The Seminoles (5-2) took their biggest lead of the opening half on a Michael Bunning basket with 33 seconds to go that pushed the margin to 34-21, however, the ‘Dogs scored the final four points of the half to trim the deficit to 34-25.

Riese O’Kernick’s triple at 6:07 of the third pulled Bridgeport to with 38-30 before Monroe Central took control, continually broke the press and began building on the lead. A trio of consecutive baskets by Rose-Burton, the final a slam off the press-break, pushed the lead to 46-31 before Cramer capped a 14-1 run at 3:07 for a 52-31 advantage.

Cooper Dulesky basket at 2:44 was the Bulldogs first in nearly four minutes and temporarily stopped the bleeding before the hosts put things completely out of reach with a 14-6 burst that extended the lead to 66-39 with 6:26 remaining in the contest.

“We went to Bridgeport our first game of the season and just didn’t play very well, with their press really bothering us because we weren’t prepared for it,” Perkins said. “But we were better prepared for it this time and we have been working on it. Our over-the-top long press worked (Tuesday) and we have even worked on a new press-breaker the last couple of days that helped us out.

“Overall, I was very pleased with the effort (Tuesday). This is a very unselfish group that doesn’t worry about the stats and the production shows that. They really share the ball very well. Our bench also played well, and I think maybe our loss at Shadyside was a blessing in disguise because we were missing a couple of kids and it helped make our bench deeper.”

The deeper bench was evident during the Seminoles’ third quarter run in which they had a pair of players, including senior starter Auston Hogue, on the bench with three fouls.

“Our defense also played well because they were taking care of their responsibilities and covering their man,” Perkins added. “I tell them to guard their position and take pride in doing it. We handled their press with composure and discipline, and we took care of the small things like we need to.”

While Rose-Burton finished with 22 points and seven rebounds, Cramer added 12 and seven and Peterson 10 points and seven rebounds. Monroe Central had a 38-25 edge off the glass and turned the ball over just nine times, comparted to 25 for the Bulldogs. O’Kernick paced Bridgeport with 13 points and eight rebounds while Colin Jackson added 12 points and six caroms off the bench.

“They just wanted it more than we did,” veteran Head Coach Don Cash admitted. “I honestly don’t know what was going on with us (Tuesday). Even in the games that we have lost we were at least competitive, but not this one, and I will take the blame for that.

“I told them at practice that they (Monroe Central) was going to be hungry for this after we beat them the first time and Coach Perkins does a good job and had them ready to play, and they played very well.”

Monroe Central did not make a free throw in the game, attempting only three on the night, but did manage to drop in a whopping 39 field goals in the contest.

Monroe Central 81, Bridgeport 55

B-Burlenski 2 0-0 5; Sommer 3 0-1 8; Dulesky 3 2-4 6; Gregorcic 3 3-3 11; Stanton 0 0-0 0; Jackson 3 4-6 12; Flanagan 0 0-0 0; Moore 0 0-0 0; Kendricks 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 9-16 55.

M-Hogue 4 0-0 8; Thompson 1 0-0 2; Burkhart 2 0-0 5; Cramer 6 0-0 12; Peterson 5 0-2 10; Rose-Burton 11 0-1 22; Kroll 2 0-0 5; Lincoln 4 0-0 8; Swisher 1 0-0 2; Kinney 1 0-0 3; Yonak 1 0-0 2; Bunning 1 0-0 2; Demchak 0 0-0 0. Totals: 39 0-3 81.

3-Pt. Field Goals: Sommer 2, Gregorcic 2, Jackson 2, Burlenski, O’Kernick; Burkhart, Kroll, Kinney.

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