Forget that North Ridgeville only had one win all season coming in, Kuchta expected the Rangers to put up a fight.
He wasn’t wrong. EC won 56-51, but it wasn’t easy.
“We were expecting Ridgeville to play just like they played,” Kuchta said. “They’re a bunch of hard-nosed kids and it was a conference game. We know that in the conference teams play each other tough typically every night.”
The win raised the Panthers’ record to 8-9 overall, 6-4 in the West Shore Conference, while the Rangers fell to 1-15 and 1-8.
Jeremy Holley, Elyria Catholic’s 6-foot-5 sophomore center, had a game-high 22 points and was a physical presence on the boards. Although only pulling down nine rebounds, most of those came at the offensive end.
“Jeremy had a real tough time under the boards,” Kutchta said. “They doubled him a lot and every time he touched the ball he had two or three guys on him.”
“It was tough at first,” Holley said. “(Nolan) Freeman’s a nice player. He’s a big presence inside. Sometimes it takes a while, but my teammates did a good job of looking inside. It was rough at first, but they hung with me and got the ball to me inside.”
The Rangers worked their way back into the game several times after trailing by five to seven points most of the night.
EC led just 26-22 at halftime, but a Rangers’ cold spell enabled the Panthers to open a 35-25 advantage midway through the third quarter.
A 3-pointer by the Rangers’ Matt Clark and a basket by Zack See enabled North Ridgeville to trim the lead to 44-39, but that was as close as North Ridgeville could get.
“It was a good fight tonight,” North Ridgeville coach Bill Noggle said. “It was good effort by our kids. We knew coming in that they are very disciplined and run a nice three-quarter-court trap. I’m very happy with our effort tonight.
Our kids battled their tails off. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Contact Ron Nenadal at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria Catholic 56, North Ridgeville 51
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (54): Jeremy Holley 6-10-22, Tyler Riddell 3-0-7, Joe Dempsy 0-4-4, Cory Strasko 1-0-2, Andrew Konno 4-0-11, Daniel Whitacre 3-1-7, John Sturza 0-3-3, Matt Morgan 0-0-0, Xavier Bennett 0-0-0, M.J.Lotko 0-0-0, Ceeven Shelton 0-0-0, Jacob Moore 0-0-0. Total 17-18-56.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (52): Zach See 6-0-13, Matt Clark 5-0-14, Nate Inal 4-2-12, Nolan Freeman 1-2-3, Dan Teitenberg 3-1-7, Anthony Nguyen 0-2-2, Andrew Sismour 0-0-0, James Schwarzer 0-0-0. Total 19-6-51.
Elyria Catholic 15 11 16 14 — 56
North Ridgeville 9 13 12 17 — 51
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic 4 (Kono 3, Riddell, North Ridgeville 7 (Clark 4, Inal 2, See). Field goals: Elyria Catholic 18-45(40 percent), North Ridgeville 19-49 (39 percent). Free throws: Elyria Catholic 18-29 (62 percent), North Ridgeville 6-11 (55 percent). Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 21 (Holley 9), North Ridgeville 21 (Inal 7). Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 15, North Ridgeville 13. Total fouls: Elyria Catholic 15, North Ridgeville 22. Fouled out: Sismour.
Junior varsity: Elyria Catholic, 48-46