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Monroe Central loses to Strasburg in D-IV

MONROE CENTRAL’S Luke Burkhart (22) looks for room to dribble as Strasburg’s Dylan Walker defends Friday night in a Division IV sectional co-final in Tuscarawas County.

STRASBURG — A poor first half did Monroe Central in Friday night.

The fifth-seeded Seminoles (15-7) could only muster up 16 points in the initial 16 minutes as No. 4 Strasburg led by as many as 11 in the second quarter before holding off a late surge by the Monroe Countians, 48-44, in a Division IV, Region 15 sectional co-final in Tuscarawas County.

The teams were knotted at 9-all late in the first quarter, but the Tigers (15-9) went on a 16-7 run to take a 25-16 advantage into the halftime lockerroom.

“We dug ourselves a hole early and offensive rebounding hurt us,” Monroe Central head coach Jon Perkins said. “We talked about that at halftime. Their offensive rebounding really put is in a hole,” Perkins said. “Number 14 (Cole Hutchison) is a hustler for them but we didn’t think he was probably their top option on offense, but we come in at halftime and he’s got 13 points. Most, if not all of them, might have come off of offensive rebounds. You look up at the scoreboard and it’s a 9-point game.”

Hutchison, a 5-10 sophomore, netted 13 of his game-high 17 points before the intermission, including seven in the game-deciding run that spanned the first and second quarters. He had three of his team’s nine offensive boards.

Monroe Central played much better in the second half, earning a 28-23 scoring advantage, but the damage had already been done.

The Seminoles closed to within four, 41-37, when senior Luke Burkhart dialed long distance from deep on the left wing.

His three-pointer closed the tickled the twine as Perkins immediately called timeout with 87 ticks remaining.

Monroe Central got a turnover, but misfired on its next trip down the floor and Wade Hostetler rebounded while being fouled.

Hostetler, a 5-9 senior, knocked down seven straight free throws down the stretch to keep the Seminoles at bay. He finished 10 of 12 while Monroe Central only managed half that many attempts.

Burkhart led Monroe Central with 13 points. Auston Hogue finished with 10, while Garet Cramer added seven, Collin Kroll six, Malachi Rose-Burton five and Cooper Thompson three.

“Hats off to our seniors. From Day 1 as freshmen they got to work and it got them to this point of playing for a sectional championship,” Perkins praised his group of five upperclassmen, which includes Hogue, Thompson, Burkhart, Cramer and John Peterson. “If our younger guys need a role model, it’s those guys.

“I was blessed to have them as a group of seniors and they will go on and do great things as young men because of the character they have as individuals.”

After going 6-for-17 from the floor in the first half, the Seminoles warmed up to 50 percent (11-22) after the break. They committed just eight turnovers and had 16 rebounds, with Rose-Burton and Cramer each grabbing five.

Strasburg had 13 turnovers and 25 rebounds as Tayshaun Curtis landed nine and Christian Miller had seven. The Tigers cashed in 16 of 36 field goal attempts and were 15-for-20 from the foul line.

“I told the guys the sun will come up tomorrow. At the end of the day, there’s no moral victories. It’s a shame it had to end but if you don’t win a state championship, it ends like this.”

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