GALION — Nobody knew for sure how many years it had been, but Crestline athletic director Matt Wade offered up his best guess.
“It’s been a long time,” Wade said when asked when the Bulldogs last won a tournament game, “a very long time.”
Max Anatra scored 15 points and ninth-seeded Crestline cruised to a 65-42 win over No. 10 Monroeville in the opening round of the Division IV sectional tournament Tuesday at Galion High School.
The postseason victory was the first for the Bulldogs since 2012.
“We’ve been through so many struggles and worked so hard to get here,” said Anatra, who scored five points in the first quarter as the Bulldogs (9-14) blew out to a 14-5 lead and never looked back. “We’ve had coaching changes and we had a bunch of guys quit, but the guys who are here have played their hearts out.
“It means a lot to all of us.”
A 5-foot-10 senior point guard, Anatra was one of four Bulldogs to reach double figures. Senior forward Ty Clark and junior guard Trevor Phillips had 14 points apiece, while junior guard Kaden Ronk added 12.
“We’ve had a few games where we’ve had three (players in double figures) — Ronk, Anatra and Clark,” first-year coach Tyler Sanders said. “Tonight Trevor got in the passing lanes and when we get in the passing lanes, good things happen.
“These kids deserve nothing less than one that got tonight.”
The Bulldogs led 26-15 at the half before outscoring the Eagles (7-16) 17-8 in the third. Crestline took a 43-23 advantage into the fourth quarter.
“We are hard to defend when we have the kind of balance we had tonight,” Anatra said. “Kaden gets face-guarded a lot, but that creates some openings for me and the other guys.”
Eli Sweet led Monroeville with 10 points. Meritt Key and Cody Schaffer each had seven points.
The Bulldogs will play Crawford County rival and No. 1 seed Colonel Crawford for a sectional championship at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Galion.
“It’s exciting to get to play a team as good as Crawford,” Anatra said. “We’ll see how we measure up against one of the best teams in the area. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.”