“I didn’t even think about it until one of the ball boys reminded me I needed four points,” the Elyria senior said Friday after the Pioneers’ 67-53 win over Parma in Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division action.
Bender was on the brink of becoming the seventh Elyria High basketball player to reach 1,000 points in his career, but all he wanted was to win the game.
With 6:38 left in the second quarter, Bender drove down the lane and laid in his second field goal of the night to officially join Louis Tumblin, Brett Larrick (Elyria’s coach), Demetrius Dalton, Richard Montague, Ted Gottfried and Robert Nelson as the only EHS boys to eclipse the grand total.
That was the easy part. The game was a lot harder as the pesky Redmen kept things interesting right up to the end when the Pioneers finally pulled away by making their final eight free throws.
Parma trailed just 59-53 with 1:38 left in the game.
Elyria improved to 9-2 overall and 3-1 in league play. Parma is 6-9, 1-3.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Bender said, “but I couldn’t do it without my teammates.”
Bender, who scored 17 in the game, missed his first three attempts before hitting a 3-pointer with 1:30 left in the first quarter. He missed another shot before making the layup to reach the milestone.
The Pioneers couldn’t really find the offensive rhythm all night, though, going just 12-of-31 from the field in the first half.
Ronnie Smith, a 5-8 junior, picked up the scoring slack with a career-best 18 points. Smith hit a pair of clutch 3-pointers and all four of his free throws. Isaiah Walton survived a subpar first half to wind up with 12 points. He also hit his last six free throws after missing his first four.
“Give Parma credit,” Larrick said. “Those kids played hard. …. Give (Anthony) Schmook some credit.
He handled our pressure for 94 feet through the whole game and hit six threes. He shot the ball extremely well.”
It seemed every time the Pioneers were about to blow the game open, Schmook, a 5-11 junior, or 6-7 sophomore Greg Smalley made things happen on the offensive end to keep the game competitive.
“He hit a lot of tough shots,” Smith said of Schmook. “Mainly my goal is to play a good defensive game. We knew he was a shooter off the scouting report, but I didn’t think that much of a shooter.”
Elyria opened a 31-19 lead late in the first half only to have Parma close it to 31-24 off a conventional 3-point play by Smalley. In the third quarter, the Pioneers forged a 39-26 lead only to have the Redmen run off 11 unanswered points to close to 39-37 before a seven-point splurge by Elyria push the lead back to 48-39 going into the final quarter.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7136 or email@example.com.
Elyria 67, Parma 53
PARMA (53): Zach Toth 0-1-1, Anthony Schmook 7-0-20, Chris Rantanes 2-1-5, Greg Smalley 8-1-17, Marko Janjetovic 2-0-4, Tyler Duetsch 2-0-4, Jared Purpura 1-0-2, Skylar Pastva 0-0-0. Totals 22-3-53.
ELYRIA (67): Kody Bender 6-3-17, Dontae Dukes 3-0-6, Isaiah Walton 3-6-12, Ronnie Smith 6-4-18, A.J. Johnson 3-0-6, Du’Jaun Glover 0-0-0, Jarred Schultz 3-0-7, Damon Stewart 0-0-0, Tavon Kurtz 0-1-1, Anthony Duckett 0-0-0, Hunter Parsh 0-0-0. Totals 24-14-67.
Parma 9 15 15 14 — 53
Elyria 11 22 15 19 — 67
Three-point goals: Parma 6-17 (Schmook 6), Elyria 5-14 (Bender 2, Smith 2, Schultz); Field goals: Parma 22-47 (47 percent), Elyria 24-57 (42 percent); Free throws: Parma 3-6 (50 percent), Elyria 14-19 (74 percent); Rebounds: Parma 31 (Smalley 10), Elyria 29 (Dukes 6); Turnovers: Parma 22, Elyria 8; Fouls: Parma 18, Elyria 11; Fouled out: Toth.
Junior varsity: Elyria, 70-39