South Central built a substantial lead and then held off a furious Monroeville rally to claim a 62-54 win in a Firelands Conference showdown Thursday night.
With the victory, the Lady Trojans improved to 13-1 overall and 9-1 in the FC, while the Lady Eagles fell to 9-3 and 8-2.
South Central led 52-37 after three quarters, but saw Monroeville trim that advantage to 56-52 late before the hosts were able to seal it.
The Lady Trojans, now all alone in first place, are attempting to win their first FC crown since 1998.
South Central was paced by junior Anna Hintz, who scored 20 points.
Hintz battled foul trouble all night and sat the first five minutes of the third quarter.
That’s when sister Alli, a senior, netted eight points and the home team extended its lead.
“That was huge for us,” South Central coach Becky Hintz said.
“We said at halftime, everybody had to step,” she added. “We had to hold Anna out so she wouldn’t get her fourth foul. It was a hard decision and I didn’t want to do it, but we had to do it.”
Alli Hintz finished with 15 points, while junior Desiree Kilgore added 13.
Freshman Summer Sweeting scored six points for SC.
Hintz said Sweeting doesn’t play like a freshman.
“Summer did a great job on both ends of the floor,” the coach said.
Hintz knew Monroeville would battle. The Lady Eagles gave South Central its only loss of the season, 60-56, on Dec. 12.
“Give Monroeville a lot credit,” Hintz said. “They are doing a great job.
“We just need to take it one game at a time,” she added.
Hintz said the atmosphere was special on Thursday.
“The fans were great,” she said. “The student section was great. They even made a sign for the girls.”
Monroeville was led by sophomore Paige Leitz, who scored 16 points and added seven rebounds. Leitz only played about three minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.
Senior Morgan Rarick scored 13 points and classmate Kristi McQuerrey added 12 for Monroeville.
Junior Samantha Reer netted nine points for the visitors.
“This game was just what we thought it would be,” Monroeville coach Brad Dunlap said. “We knew it would be a great game with a lot of runs.
South Central led 35-25 at the half.
“It was tough going into the locker room down 10,” Dunlap said, adding the Eagles stuck with it.
This team is a joy for Dunlap to coach.
“It all starts with the senior class,” he said. “They bought into the off-season program, the weight room, summer league, summer camp and then the others followed.
“These girls make it fun and they are having a lot of fun,” the coach added.
Monroeville is at St. Paul on Saturday afternoon.
“This is a tough week,” Dunlap said. “When you play St. Paul, throw the records out. It’s a rivalry.”
South Central is home to New London on Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Trojans were 25-of-52 from the floor, 9-of-13 at the line, with 16 rebounds and 14 turnovers.
Monroeville shot 22-of-38 from the field, 7-of-10 at the stripe, with 21 rebounds and 19 turnovers.
South Central won the jayvee game, 41-28.