But the Eagles never could expand on that lead and put Lakota away.
In the end, freshman Isaac Roeder scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lift Monroeville to a 54-43 non-league win on Tuesday.
"There is no question we never put them away," Monroeville coach Paul Roeder said. "We thought we had a chance to blow them out at that point and we did not. We thought we would come out in the second half and put a push on. We shot ourselves in the foot too much tonight."
The victory is a bit of a historic win for the Monroeville (5-6) program. It is just the fourth time that the Eagles have won five games in a six-game stretch since the 1983-84 state championship team. This run follows the runs in 1985-86 (coached by Jim Dillard), 2000-01 (Jeff Winslow), and 2007-08 (Zac Reer). Dillard's run included tournament wins making this the third time it has happened in the regular season.
"I have got five coaches including myself who wanted to come back and try to make an impact and a difference," coach Roeder said. "The kids are believing and they believe in us and believe in the system. They are learning how to play as a team."
The win is also the third in a row — something that has not happened for the Eagles since Dec. 10-17, 2010.
"For us, that is huge," coach Roeder said. "What is important about that is our kids, now when bad things happen, they do not expect them to continue to happen. What would happen in previous years is one bad thing happens and we would hang our head. They are not feeling that way now."
The Eagles were nearly done in by 24 turnovers.
"We have actually done much better with turnovers this year," coach Roeder said. "Our goal was to have fewer turnovers today, knowing this was going to be a more loose game. I thought Lakota was aggressive in forcing the action."
A suffocating defense by Monroeville in the second quarter led to the separation on the scoreboard. After leading 11-8 after one quarter, the Eagles forced Lakota (0-10) into tough shots while cashing in on the other end.
Chayce Schaub hit a jumper before Roeder made a pair of free throws. Cody Schaffer drilled a 3 for a 18-8 lead as the Raiders called timeout.
Anthony Dublo picked off a Lakota pass and laid it in before Mason Tronelli scored. Roeder connected on a shot and Schaffer split two free throws to open the lead to 25-8. Lakota recorded its only points of the quarter with five seconds left as Carter Reinhart scored down low.
"We just went flat and we could not make shots," Lakota coach Ron Meade said. "We got a lot of good looks and a lot of shots. They just do not go in."
For as tough as the Monroeville offense was in the first half, it struggled just as much, especially with turnovers in the second half. Lakota drew within 10 points on a Reinhart with 5:22 left in the third quarter.
But, the Eagles got off enough shots to keep the Raiders at bay. Roeder made two free throws, scored down low, and then fed Tonelli for a 3-pointer to send the lead right back up to 34-17.
"Roeder is a nice player," Meade said. "One of the downfalls to us is we do not have that height and that length."
Later, consecutive 3s from Reinhart and Braden Schaser helped Lakota slice the lead to single digits (36-27) for the first time since the 4:35 mark of the second quarter. But, a 3 from Schaffer and a score from Roeder put Monroeville back on top, 41-29 after three quarters.
"Isaac had a very nice game," coach Roeder said. "He is a freshman and he is learning every game. There were some times he tried to take it against a couple guys when he should have pulled it out. He is young, but he is a phenomenal athlete."
Schaffer scored the first four points of the fourth quarter, but Lakota had one more run in it. J. Matz made two technical free throws and later, Reinhart scored off of a Monroeville turnover to cut the lead to 45-36 with 3:42 left.
The Eagles showed patience offensively for the rest of the game and used aggressiveness to fend off the Raiders. Monroeville got to the free throw line 10 times in the fourth quarter, making seven of them to finish off the win.
Schaffer tallied 11 points and seven rebounds while Tonelli scored nine points. Schaub finished with seven points and six rebounds.
"We could get what we wanted on offense most times when we actually executed the offense," coach Roeder said. "Too many times unforced errors and unforced turnovers hurt us. That is the kind of thing we need to clean up."
Monroeville will have a stern test on its hands Friday when it entertains Firelands Conference leader Western Reserve (7-3, 6-0).
Cody Schaffer 3-3—11, Chayce Schaub 2-3—7, Isaac Roeder 6-8—20, Mason Tonelli 4-0—9, Eli Sweet 1-0—2, Anthony Dublo 2-1—5. TOTALS 18-15—54.
Collin Hipsher 2-0—4, J. Matz 2-2—7, Carter Reinhart 7-2—18, Dakota Travis 1-0—2, Kaleb Mahler 1-0—2, Braden Schaser 1-2—5, Jalen Cofer 2-1—5. TOTALS 16-7—43.
Monroeville 11 14 16 13 — 54
Lakota 8 2 19 14 — 43
3-point FGs: (M) Schaffer 2, Tonelli; (L) Reinhart 2, Matz, Schaser