The Roughriders (8-3, 7-0) were up 10-3 with 4:04 left in the first quarter. After a timeout, Western went on a 9-0 run to stretch the lead on the way to a 65-30 win at the Monroeville Athletic Complex.
“We knew coming over here what we wanted to do was turn up the heat defensively (and) allow our defense to get our offense going,” Western Reserve coach Chris Sheldon said. “We did that right out of the gate, causing double-figure turnovers in the first half. It led to easy baskets.”
The victory kept the ’Riders undefeated in the Firelands Conference at 7-0.
“We’re alone in first place and that’s exactly where you want to be this time of year,” Sheldon said. “More than anything it tells us our hard work is paying off. You always want kids to be rewarded for hard work and so far, through the first half of the season, they’ve done that. Now they gotta maintain that same work ethic and discipline if we want to be there coming down the home stretch.”
Monroeville fell to 4-7 overall (2-5 FC) with the home loss, which stopped its three-game winning streak.
Coach Paul Roeder wasn’t surprised by Western grabbing a big lead early.
“Western is notorious for coming out fast, so we did expect that. I guess I had hoped to get a little better defense,” he said. “We were playing man. We were on them; we just weren’t on them close enough. We got a hand up, but they just weren’t close enough.”
The ’Riders led 41-16 at halftime.
“They were burying the three and then we’d get on the three and they’d drive it with a layup. (It’s) a well-coached team; their players are very skilled — inside and outside. It was all we could handle,” Roeder said.
“But really what hurt us the most besides that was they really denied all of our passes,” he added. “They were very aggressive on defense and were in the passing lanes and made it very difficult for us to run our offense.”
Western’s JJ Weisenberger led his team with 17 points. The junior also grabbed seven rebounds and four steals.
Luke Rowlinson hit four of Western’s eight three-pointers to contribute 14 points. John Skrada swished in all 11 of his points in the first half.
“Our guards are definitely a strength. Those three … played really well again for us tonight,” said Sheldon, who was pleased with the way the top eight guys competed and focused.
Western went cold with shooting the ball for most of the third quarter, yet Monroeville couldn’t close the gap. The ’Riders ended the period up 51-22.
“It was an off night, but credit Western’s defense; they were competing. They were gonna be in our face and they were in our face and we could not get beyond that. We would try to drive and they would close the driving lanes. Nothing was there. Our shooters weren’t hitting; we were frustrated tonight,” Roeder said.
Western’s swarming defense kept Monroeville in single digits in three of the four periods.
“That’s a pretty good defensive effort and that’s what allowed us to get out to such a fast start,” Sheldon said. “At times it’s been something we’ve had to lean on. One thing I know is when you get after people defensively, (it) creates easier offensive opportunities and it just gets your guys in rhythm. When we’re in rhythm, we shoot it really, really well and even shoot it at a higher clip.”
In junior varsity action, Western also won big, 60-29. Freshman Camden Hankins scored 13 points. Freshman Aiden Edwards and sophomore Adam Lewis each added 10.
For Monroeville, sophomore Meritt Key led the way with 11 points. Sophomore Gunner Howell contributed 10.
The Eagles continue FC play Thursday at South Central.
“They’re aggressive. They can shoot it, but they have an inside game also,” Roeder said.
Western travels to Huron for a non-conference game tonight.
“They’re a real physical team — pretty deliberate. (They) run their offense really well. They’ve got some big guys (who) are gonna be a nice matchup for us. We gotta go out and try to get a good win in a non-conference game,” Sheldon said.
“It’s gonna be a test. We’re gonna see if our guys are up to it,” he added.
Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Facebook at “Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger” and on Twitter at @Cary_reporter.
WESTERN RESERVE (8-3, 7-0)
Luke Wyers 2-0-4; Cory Hipp 3-1-7; JJ Weisenberger 8-0-17; John Skrada 5-0-11; Jude Muenz 2-0-5; Aiden Markley 2-0-5; Luke Rowlinson 5-0-14. TOTALS 28-1-65
MONROEVILLE (4-7, 2-5)
Anthony Dublee 1-0-2; Cody Schaffer 3-2-9; Chayce Schaub 1-0-3; Isaac Reeder 3-0-6; Mason Tonelli 1-2-5; Eli Sweet 2-1-5. TOTALS 11-5-30
W. Reserve 23 18 10 14 — 65
Monroeville 5 11 6 8 — 30
3-point FGs: (WR) Weisenberger, Skrada, Muenz, Markley, Rowlinson (4); (M) Schaffer, Schaub, Tonelli
JV: Western Reserve 60-29