ELYRIA — After two straight losses — the last one an embarrassing blowout at Hudson — Elyria coach Mike Walsh admitted Saturday’s non-conference game with Olmsted Falls was an important one.
“We needed a win right now,” Walsh said. “I told them this is our biggest game of the year. We’re on a two-game losing streak. The Solon game we didn’t play all that bad but the Hudson game — we were bad.”
The funk continued through the first half Saturday against the Bulldogs before Elyria took control in the third quarter and went on to win, 56-47, to improve to 8-2 on the year. The Pioneers broke a
20-all tie by outscoring Falls 19-6 over the next eight minutes.
“The third quarter we set a real good tone,” Walsh said, “but as usual, we can’t put the nails in the coffin. (Falls) made a nice run on us. That’s a credit to them. They could have given up. I think we had it (the lead) to about 17 and in about a minute and a half it was seven.”
In reality, a 3-point play by leading scorer Honesty King pushed Elyria’s lead to 42-26 at the outset of the final quarter. Falls (6-4) managed to whittle it to 49-42 midway through the period behind a stellar performance from Alexis Henton, who scored 14 of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter. King led Elyria with 19 points.
“Coach told us this would be our biggest game of the year,” King said. “We wanted to end 8-2 before the Christmas break. We have Amherst after the break. We have to continue playing hard.”
Walsh got the message across at halftime. Elyria played with more intensity and was more physical.
“(The Pioneers) physically manhandled us,” said Falls coach Matt Fulton. “They treated us like we were their little stepsister. They beat us up. We’re not a tough team. We have to get tougher — plain and simple.”
“The first half we weren’t playing good defense,” Walsh said. “I think (Falls) first four shots were layups. All we talked about (at halftime) was no layups. I think that’s why we went after some of the blocks we had (in the second half).”
Henton’s 3-pointer with 1:52 left sliced the lead to 53-47 but that was as close as the Bulldogs could get as Elyria closed out the game with a Kassandra Messenger layup and a free throw by King. The Pioneers could have made it easier had they hit their free throws. Elyria cashed in only three of its final nine foul shots.
“We’re not a good foul shooting team,” Walsh said. “But this year, in the fourth quarter, we’ve been very good. (Saturday), we couldn’t close it out but that’s the first time.”
Tess Sito and Brigette Jones joined King in double-figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Jones, Tai Dotson and Sito combined to pull in 16 missed shots. Julie Radigan, Ashley Hodge and Rachel Rossman combined for 19 Bulldog rebounds.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria 56, Olmsted Falls 47
OLMSTED FALLS (47): Alexis Henton 7-7-23, Rachel Rossman 3-2-8, Julie Radigan 2-0-4, Ashley Hodge 2-3-7, Haley Mueller 0-0-0, Nicole Cantrell 1-0-3, Cassie Cantrell 1-0-3, Bryce Romp 0-0-0. Totals 16-12-47.
ELYRIA (56): Kassandra Messenger 2-1-6, Honesty King 7-5-19, Brigette Jones 4-2-10, Tai Dotson 4-0-8, Tess Sito 4-4-13, Stephanie Littlejohn 0-0-0, Darcy Warden 0-0-0, Charnele Oliver 0-0-0, Jessica Mandula 0-0-0. Totals 21-12-56.
Olmsted Falls 10 10 6 21 — 47
Elyria 7 13 19 17 — 56
Three-point goals: Olmsted Falls 3-11 (Henton 2, Cantrell). Elyria 2-9 (Messenger, Sito). Field Goals: Olmsted Falls
16-44 (36 percent). Elyria 21-44 (48 percent). Free Throws: Olmsted Falls 12-16 (75 percent). Elyria 12-22 (54 percent). Rebounds: Olmsted Falls 33 (Radigan, Hodge 7), Elyria 27 (Jones 7). Turnovers: Olmsted Falls 12, Elyria 9. Fouls: Olmsted Falls 17, Elyria 14. Fouled Out: None.
Junior Varsity: Elyria 41-25.