NORTH ROYALTON — Any doubts concerning the credentials of unbeaten North Royalton were put to rest Friday night.
The Bears are deep, well-coached, unselfish and intelligent on the basketball floor and they proved all that against Elyria with an impressive 58-45 win to get a leg up in the Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division race.
North Royalton improved to a sparkling 9-0 overall and 2-0 in league play after sending Elyria (7-2, 1-1) to its second loss in its past three games.
“Give Tim (Matus, North Royalton’s coach) credit,” Elyria coach Brett Larrick said. “That’s an unbelievable team. That is such an unselfish team, it’s unbelievable. Their second- and third-leading scorers were bench guys.”
Matus punched all the right buttons Friday. His team worked the ball in and out and found the open 3-point shots. The Bears put on a clinic in ball movement and patience as it utilized its raw 6-foot-7 freshman Omari Spellman to key the offense.
Spellman was not really all that spectacular but he did have two thunderous dunks as well as 13 points and seven rebounds to lead the way.
So much for style points when it comes to production.
Meanwhile, Elyria couldn’t get out of its own way on offense. The Pioneers forced too many things and tried to do too many uncharacteristic plays on offense. Kody Bender and Isaiah Walton couldn’t get into any shooting rhythm, but North Royalton had a lot to do with that. Bender scored just six points and Walton 10, far below their combined average of nearly 40 points.
“Everybody tried to do too much,” Larrick said. “We tried to do things we don’t work on. Until we understand we practice a certain way for a reason, we’re going to get beat by really good teams.”
North Royalton never allowed Elyria to go on any extended runs. The Pioneers scored the first six points of the game but could only match that kind of run one other time when they closed a 26-17 deficit to 26-23 near the end of the first half on baskets by A.J. Johnson, Jarred Schultz and Damon Stewart off great passes from Walton (two) and Ronnie Smith.
Schultz provided a spark off the bench with nine points and seven rebounds but it was too little to overcome the Bears.
“We’re a team built on just having some experience and having a lot of guys who can do the scoring,” Matus said. “We have five or six guys who can lead us in scoring any night. As long as we share the ball, which we’ve been doing all season long, we’ll get some good looks offensively.”
North Royalton’s offensive possession at the end of the third quarter epitomized its effort. Matus called time with 12.2 seconds left in the quarter and up 44-36. Larrick threw a zone at the Bears but Logan Chuppa, one of the “bench guys” Larrick referred to, sprang open for a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded to put the Bears in front 47-36 entering the final quarter.
“We called a timeout to set up a shot,” Matus said. “Brett’s a wily cat over there — he went to zone — and we actually ran a zone set and got a good look off of it. Logan, our sixth man, made a big shot for us. That put us up 11 going into the fourth quarter.”
It also helped lock down the game as North Royalton used its patience to maintain a safe margin the rest of the way. The Bears hit 7-of-13 3-pointers to just 1-of-16 for Elyria. Chuppa had three and finished with 11 points.
North Royalton was also perfect from the line (7-7), while Elyria, normally a good free throw shooting team, was just 6-14.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Royalton 58, Elyria 45
ELYRIA (45): Kody Bender 2-2-6, Du’Jaun Glover 1-0-2, Dontae Dukes 0-0-0, Isaiah Walton 4-2-10, A.J. Johnson 2-0-4, Tavon Kurtz 0-0-0, Jarred Schultz 4-1-9, Damon Stewart 2-0-4, Anthony Duckett 0-0-0, Ronnie Smith 3-1-8, Hunter Parsh 1-0-2, Rodger Jamison 0-0-0, K.J. Miller 0-0-0. Totals 19-6-45.
NORTH ROYALTON (58): Nick Woods 3-2-9, Nick Krempasky 1-0-2, Travis Tarnowski 3-0-6, Evan Wypasek 3-0-7, Omari Spellman 6-1-13, Tyler Smolinski 3-2-10, Logan Chuppa 3-2-11, Brandon Lapeus 0-0-0, Henry Meinburg 0-0-0, Bryan Bielak 0-0-0, Andrew Hartman 0-0-0, Mike Hudec 0-0-0, David Gabanic 0-0-0. Totals 22-7-58.
Elyria 12 11 13 9 — 45
North Royalton 14 14 19 11 — 58
Three-point goals: Elyria 1-16 (Smith), North Royalton 7-13 (Chuppa 3, Smolinski 2, Wypasek, Woods). Field goals: Elyria 19-56 (34 percent), North Royalton 22-50 (44 percent). Free throws: Elyria 6-14 (43 percent), North Royalton 8-8 (100 percent). Rebounds: Elyria 37 (Schultz 7), North Royalton 35 (Woods 8). Turnovers: Elyria 13, North Royalton 20. Fouls: Elyria 10, North Royalton 14.
Junior varsity: North Royalton, 57-47