Free throws? Check. Huron outscored the Panthers 24-4 from the line.
Rebounds? Yep. Huron had the upper hand again, 48-28.
Aaron Casey? Without a doubt. EC had no answers for Huron’s 6-foot-3 post player, who scored 25 points and pulled in 11 rebounds.
But it was the way EC blew a seven-point lead in the waning minutes of the third quarter that could have been the biggest culprit.
With just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, a Tyler Riddell 3-pointer from the right baseline put the Panthers in front 42-35. However, that was the beginning of the end for EC as Huron ran off eight straight points — four coming from the foul line — to take a 43-42 lead.
Two John Stursa free throws with a second left briefly put Elyria Catholic (3-7) back on top, but it was all Huron (7-4) in the final quarter.
“Silly mistakes,” EC coach Jason Smith said. “We had a decent lead and good teams push that lead to double digits going to the fourth quarter. We made some silly turnovers. We’re trying to box out but we couldn’t grab the rebounds. A lot of guys trying to leak out instead of crashing the boards. We couldn’t stop Casey.”
Casey scored only three points in a win over Edison on Friday, so his outburst wasn’t exactly expected.
“We’ve been battling to get over the hump all season,” Huron coach Bob James said. “I think it’s because we’ve been playing unselfishly and move the ball. Aaron Casey was huge. We finally understood we had a mismatch down low and he could score. We got him the basketball.”
Casey scored 19 of his points in the second half and made all nine of his free throws.
It wasn’t for lack of effort on EC’s part but it just didn’t match up with Huron’s size advantage inside. Four Tigers finished in double figures and three had at least eight rebounds.
The only thing the Panthers could do was foul and once Huron had the lead in the fourth quarter, it pulled the ball out and was patient enough to wait for the fouls. The Tigers were in the double bonus from the 4:16 mark on and cashed in on 13 of 17 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“No. 23 (Casey) was a monster on the boards,” Smith said. “We had no answer for him. Huron’s a great team from top to bottom. They’re well-coached. They were patient. They know how to win.”
Tyler Riddell led EC with 16 points, while Stursa added 14, Daniel Whitacre 12 and Ceevan Shelton 11. Stursa, at 6-1, led the Panthers with six rebounds.
OFFICIAL DOWN: One of the officials became ill early in the game and left the floor. It was reported later that he was OK after being examined. Two officials worked the remainder of the first half and a third official was called in to work the second half.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7136 or email@example.com.
Huron 66, Elyria Catholic 59
HURON (66): Ryan Vancauwenbergh 1-2-4, Aaron Driftmeyer 4-2-10, Cody Thompson 2-6-10, Aaron Casey 8-9-25, Colin McCready 4-1-10, Zach Souter 0-0-0, Jack Springer 0-0-0, Keegan Bollenbacher 1-4-7, Andrew Dowell 0-0-0, Eric Weir 0-0-0. Totals 20-24-66.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (59): Cory Strasko 1-2-4, Daniel Whitacre 5-0-12, Tyler Riddell 6-0-16, John Stursa 6-2-14, Ceevan Shelton 5-0-11, DJ Graham 0-0-0, Conner Riddell 0-0-0, Xavier Bennett 1-0-2, Angelo Cruz 0-0-0. Totals 24-4-59.
Huron 11 14 18 23 — 66
Elyria Catholic 8 19 17 15 — 59
Three-point goals: Huron 2-6 (McCready, Bollenbacher), Elyria Catholic 7-17 (T.Riddell 4, Whitacre 2, Shelton). Field goals: Huron 20-55 (36 percent), Elyria Catholic 24-62 (39 percent). Free throws: Huron 24-32 (75 percent), Elyria Catholic 4-9 (44 percent). Rebounds: Huron 48 (Casey 11), Elyria Catholic 28 (Stursa 6). Turnovers: Huron 11, Elyria Catholic 12. Fouls: Huron 11, Elyria Catholic 24. Fouled out: Shelton.
Junior varsity: Huron, 47-33