September 30, 2014

Elyria
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Girls basketball: Focus on defense, intensity pay off for Elyria in win over Strongsville

ELYRIA — Bob Walsh, Elyria girls assistant basketball coach and longtime area boys head coach, had some sage advice for the Pioneers before Saturday’s Northeast Ohio Conference game against Strongsville.

“Go out and play 32 minutes of strong basketball,” he told the team.

They obviously listened, putting together a solid effort from start to finish in a 48-34 win over the Mustangs.

Senior Mary Jones set the tone from the opening tip with a pair of layups in the first 28 seconds to give Elyria a 4-0 lead. Jones, who finished with a game-high 17 points, also credited the Elyria defense with paving the way for the win.

“We put in some new sets on defense this week and that made us focus and communicate better out on the court tonight,” she said. “We talked and helped each other out and worked as a team tonight.”

That defensive focus paid off in the fourth quarter when the Pioneers held Strongsville to just one point while forcing seven turnovers.

The win put the Pioneers back over the .500 mark at 6-5 overall and 1-4 in the NOC at the midway point of the conference schedule.

“We played with as much intensity as we have for 32 minutes in a game all season,” said Elyria coach Mike Walsh, Bob’s son. “I don’t know if was the best overall game we’ve had but we never let down. Even when Strongsville made a couple of runs we were never moping. The girls never got down on themselves.”

The Mustangs (4-7, 0-5) briefly held an 8-4 lead in the first quarter but Elyria went on a 9-0 run, retaking the lead for good on a Jocelyn Spraggins basket with 2:12 to play in the first.

Alexis Middlebrooks had another double-double for Elyria with 14 points, 12 in the second half, and 16 rebounds.

“When we got a little bit of a lead they came after us and we were able to isolate Alexis on the inside and she did a great job taking advantage of it,” Mike Walsh said. “She’s been averaging almost 13 rebounds a game, so we’re used to getting great efforts from her.”

Middlebrooks agreed with Jones that it was the Pioneers’ defense that allowed her to have success atthe offensive end.

“We just added some new defense and I suggested last game that we start jumping out and picking up the ball right away and coach took my advice,” she said. “That really got us pumped up and we just kept building on that.”

Elyria also had a huge advantage on the boards, outrebounding Strongsville 35-23.

Sophomore Sybil Roseboro also had nine points and four steals for Elyria.

“Tonight was a confidence booster for us,” Jones said. “After we lost in the Amherst tournament we knew we ad to practice better and come out and display what we did in practice in the game. It felt like we were able to do that tonight.”

Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

Elyria 48, Strongsville 34

STRONGSVILLE (34): Erin Sims 2-1-6, Kaitlyn Kotlarz 3-1-7, Ally Branigan 1-0-2, Jenna Jakubik 0-1-1, Carli Stefanik 1-2-4, Sara Leahy 1-0-2, Keri Hill 4-0-8, Camryn Hill 2-0-4. Totals 14-5-34.
ELYRIA (48): Sybil Roseboro 3-1-9, Mary Jones 6-3-17, Jocelyn Spraggins 2-0-4, Alexis Roseboro 1-0-2, Alexis Middlebrooks 5-4-14, Marian Johnson 1-0-2. Totals 18-8-48.

Strongsville    12      5      16    1       —     34
Elyria                 13    10    15    10     —    48

Three-pointers: Strongsville 1 (Sims), Elyria 4 (Jones 2, Roseboro 2); Field goals: Strongsville 14-of-46 (30 percent), Elyria 18-of-47 (38 percent); Free throws: Strongsville 5-of-12 (42 percent), Elyria
8-of-13 (62 percent); Rebounds: Strongsville 22, Elyria 35; Turnovers: Strongsville 19, Elyria 23.
Junior varsity: Elyria, 37-36