ELYRIA — The outlook might be grim if your team shoots less than 22 percent from the field, makes fewer than half its foul shots, misses 10 of 11 3-point attempts and goes without a basket in the fourth quarter.
On the other hand, the outcome is just fine if, despite all that, your team wins an important game.
Elyria Catholic pulled it off Wednesday night, defeating Rocky River 31-23 in West Shore Conference action. It was big for the Panthers (11-2, 5-1) because they remain within a game of Lakewood in the championship race.
They did it with senior Karissa McGrath and freshman Riley Schill coming up big in the final minute.
McGrath made a big steal and grabbed a crucial rebound in the final 20 seconds. Schill made three straight foul shots — the third with 21 seconds to play. They put it out of reach at a time when the Pirates could have cut the EC lead to two points with a 3-point basket.
Luckily, from an EC point of view, the Pirates (4-8, 3-3), didn’t get to the foul line in the second half, missed 13 of 15 3-point attempts and had an equally anemic shooting percentage, 21.4 percent.
“The other team was playing hard and we were getting kind of overwhelmed, so I just wanted to get the ball and set the tone a little bit,” McGrath said. “I think we were letting it get out of hand. But we’re happy. It keeps us high in the conference.”
Someone suggested to EC coach Eric Rothgery that his team had survived despite a bad fourth quarter.
“That’s your opinion,” he said. “The idea is to outscore the other team. I told the girls two minutes into the fourth quarter when I got that timeout, ‘If we don’t score, we win. Relax. Don’t worry about missing shots. Stop them from scoring, step into the passing lanes, limit them to one shot and you’re going to be in business.’
“It turned out, we’ll take it,” he said. “It’s all relative. I’m not sure there was ever a good shooting quarter in there.”
It was never easy for the Panthers. They led just 5-3 after a quarter and 17-12 at the break. They led 28-21 after three quarters, but weren’t out of the woods.
River’s Kara Johanson opened the fourth with a basket to cut the deficit to 28-23. With EC missing all 11 of its field-goal attempts in the period, the Pirates could have made it a 28-26 game had they made a 3-pointer. But River missed six shots outside the arc, including its last five in a row, and 11 of 12 total shots.
Meantime, the Pirates gave Schill four straight foul shots in the final minute and she made three to ice it.
“I knew I had to make those because it would give us more of a cushion and we weren’t really scoring a lot,” Schill said. “I wasn’t really nervous, but I knew we had to make them. It’s really a simple shot.”
Schill finished with a game-high 12 points and McGrath added nine. Carolyn Farling led the Pirates scoring with six points. EC held leading scorer Kara Johanson to four points and one field goal.
“You can’t just come out in the fourth quarter and try to make shots,” Pirates coach Michael Sislowski said. “That’s something you have to be committed to 12 months a year. We’re working on that and I’m extremely proud of the effort. They never quit and they fought back with their defense.”
Elyria Catholic 31, Rocky River 23
ROCKY RIVER (23): Katie Kocher 0-0-0, McKenna Klodnick 0-0-0, Annie Swartz 1-0-2, Carolyn Farling 3-0-6, Andrea Chiviles 0-0-0, Lucy Grierson 2-1-5, Meghan Ittu 2-0-6, Kara Johanson 1-2-4. Totals 9-3-23.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (31): Josie Carandang 1-0-2, Brittney McNamara 3-1-8, Riley Schill 4-4-12, Shannon Hopkins 0-0-0, Karissa McGrath 4-1-9, Becky Horvath 0-0-0, Erin Herschelman 0-0-0. Totals 12-6-31.
Rocky River 3 9 9 2 – 23
Elyria Catholic 5 12 11 3 – 31
Three-point goals: Rocky River 2-15 (Ittu 2); Elyria Catholic 1-11 (McNamara). Field goals: Rocky River 9-42 (21.4 percent); Elyria Catholic 12-55 (21.8 percent). Free throws: Rocky River 3-5; Elyria Catholic 6-15. Rebounds: Rocky River 44; Elyria Catholic 39. Turnovers: Rocky River 21; Elyria Catholic 16.
Junior varsity: Rocky River, 32-22.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.