LORAIN — Talk about unbelievable spurts and you’re talking about the Elyria-Admiral King matchup in the opening round of the 11th annual Lorain County Holiday Classic.
The Admirals survived a furious Elyria rally to win, 72-55, to advance to tonight’s championship against Vermilion. The Sailors were 76-55 winners over Sandusky in Monday’s first game. It’s the first year the event has taken place outside of Elyria.
When the Pioneers’ Will Rudolph picked up a loose-ball rebound and deposited it into the basket to tie the game at 19 with 3:42 to play in the first half, it appeared another King-Elyria classic was in the mix. After all, these two big-school rivals have been going at it since Admiral King opened its doors in 1961, with King now holding a commanding 59-36 edge all-time.
Following Rudolph’s basket, King scored the final 11 points of the first half and jumped on Elyria for six more unanswered to start the second before really putting the pedal to the metal. Over the next five minutes, the Admirals rolled up a 17-2 run for a 53-21 lead.
King, 6-0 on the year, was more physical, played faster and forced 18 turnovers over the course of the middle two quarters and appeared on its way to one of the most lopsided victories in the 47-year history of the rivalry.
“We talked about their spurts that they go on,” said Brett Larrick, Elyria’s coach, “and how to weather them. They’re very quick, they’re very aggressive. They try to get away with a lot, and they do get away with a lot.”
Elyria (1-4) wasn’t about to let the blowout happen. The Pioneers had quite a run up their sleeves themselves in pulling to within 64-55 on a banked-in 3-pointer by Travis Noble with 1:16 still to play and nearly trimmed it to six had Josh Brubaker’s 3-pointer gone in instead of rimming out moments later. In case you haven’t pulled out your calculator — that was a 34-9 Elyria run after trailing by 32 points.
“You know what?” said King coach Al Stacey. “We came out a little flat and kinda played at (Elyria’s) tempo. We just didn’t play a good first half. There wasn’t any chalk talk (at halftime). I just said ‘Hey guys, we just have to play the way we know how to play.’
“Then (Elyria) hit some big threes, and boom – they’re right back in it.”
“We finally matched their aggressiveness at the end but it was too late,” Larrick said. “I was really proud of how our guys fought back. Now we have to make them understand, we have to match that aggressiveness.”
King scored the game’s final eight points – four coming on free throws and two on Adrian Casey’s last second tip-in.
Casey and Chris Kimbro – the three-year lettermen for King – led the charge with 19 and 17 points, but it was the physical play of the Admirals that set the tone – at least early on. Casey led King to a 45-36 rebound margin with 11 boards.
“We’re a real physical team,” Casey said. “When it comes down to being physical, we can do that, but that still doesn’t mean we should come off of playing good basketball.”
King will be after its first Holiday Classic title since 2004 when it beat Elyria, 80-76. The Pioneers had won the past three Classics including a 79-78 overtime win over Sandusky last year. Elyria and the Blue Streaks will play in tonight’s consolation at 6.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELYRIA (55): Mike Cannon 2-1-5, Maurice Woods 1-0-3, Travis Noble 4-0-11, Matt Velazquez 2-0-5, Chase Ferris 2-1-5, Will Rudolph 2-4-8, Josh Brubaker 2-0-6, Brandon Mueller 1-0-3, Eric Santo Domingo 1-3-6, Dimitrius Lovett 0-2-2, DeSean Davis 0-1-1. Totals 17-12-55.
ADMIRAL KING (72): Chris Kimbro 7-2-17, Malcolm Barnett 1-4-6, AJ Atkinson 1-0-2, Anton Harris 3-0-6, Adrian Casey 8-3-19, Bryant Parker 1-0-3, Marquan Anderson 3-5-11, Gary Donald 3-2-8, Jermaine Ross 0-0-0, Josh Thomas 0-0-0, Jordan Casey 0-0-0. Totals 27-16-72.
Elyria 11 8 12 24 — 55
Admiral King 15 15 24 18 — 72
Three-point goals: Elyria 9-19 (Noble 3, Brubaker 2, Woods, Velazquez, Mueller, Santo Domingo). Admiral King 2-11 (Kimbro, Parker). Field Goals: Elyria 17-54 (31 percent). Admiral King 27-58 (46.5 percent). Free Throws: Elyria 12-20 (60 percent). Admiral King 16-29 (55 percent). Rebounds: Elyria 36 (Noble 10). Admiral King 45 (A.Casey 11). Turnovers: Elyria 23, Admiral King 22. Fouls: Elyria 19, Admiral King 24. Fouled Out: None.