Tuesday that theory played out at the Coliseum at Elyria Catholic as the Panthers grinded out a 54-42 non-conference win over Oberlin.
It was truly a team victory for EC (5-7), which managed to outhustle, outrebound and outscore the Phoenix for its second win in a row. Oberlin (7-5) had a five-game winning streak snapped.
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“We have a couple teams on our schedule that will be in our district,” said 6-foot senior Tyler Riddell, who led the scoring with 14 points. “We wanted to make a point to everyone out there that even without our big guy (Jeremy Holley, out for the year with a broken leg suffered during football season), we’re still rolling, we’re still improving over last year and picking things up.”
The Panthers, who are at Vermilion on Friday and host Elyria High on Saturday, had contributions up and down the roster. Senior John Stursa scored 11 points and scrambled and battled his way to 10 rebounds. Senior Xavier Bennett came off the bench for eight points and eight rebounds. Senior Dan Whitacre had seven rebounds and junior Conner Riddell five.
Rebounding, particularly without Holley, hasn’t been a strong suit for Elyria Catholic, but it outboarded Oberlin by 11 on Tuesday. EC also managed to get to the foul line, holding a 19-6 edge on made free throws, and it played outstanding zone defense the entire night.
“This is back-to-back games for us,” Panthers coach Jason Smith said. “You look at Bay (last Friday) and Oberlin on the schedule and you kind of cringe a little bit. Two very good teams but both games we were able to play eight guys and they all did an excellent job. (Tuesday) we were phenomenal rebounding.
“Danny Whitacre got into foul trouble early but Xavier Bennett came on and cleaned things up. If the ball touched his hands, he had it.”
The Riddells, Stursa, Cory Strasko, Ceeven Shelton and D.J. Graham did a good job handling Oberlin’s pressure. EC did turn the ball over 22 times, but also forced 18 out of the Phoenix.
“We were unprepared (Tuesday),” Oberlin coach Kurt Russell said. “We didn’t make any shots. I think our field-goal percentage was maybe 20 percent range (actually 29). Our last five games during our winning streak we shot the ball extremely well. It was just one of those cold streaks where we couldn’t make any shots.”
Russell said his team has been hit with the flu bug, but said that wasn’t the reason for the loss.
“Two or three have missed some practice time but (EC) was more disciplined,” he said. “They passed the ball around. We just have to get a little healthier.”
Jason Moore, with seven of his points in the final quarter, led Oberlin with 11 points and eight rebounds. Marcus Bailey (nine points, five rebounds), Demonte Taborn (eight points), DeShaun Horton (seven points, three rebounds) and Noland Isom (seven points, two boards) had good games for Oberlin.
Elyria Catholic 54, Oberlin 42
OBERLIN (42): Jason Moore 4-3-11, Charles Lewis 0-0-0, Marcus Bailey 4-0-9, Noland Isom 3-0-7, DaShaun Horton 3-1-7, Demonte Taborn 2-2-8, Marvin Jackson 0-0-0, Devante Hougland 0-0-0. Totals 16-6-42.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (54): Cory Strasko 2-1-5, Daniel Whitacre 2-0-4, Tyler Riddell 4-4-14, John Stursa 3-4-11, Ceevan Shelton 1-3-5, DJ Graham 2-1-5, Conner Riddell 0-2-2, Xavier Bennett 2-4-8. Totals 16-19-54.
Oberlin 12 10 4 16 — 42
Elyria Catholic 14 14 6 20 — 54
Three-point goals: Oberlin 4-18 (Taborn 2, Bailey, Isom), Elyria Catholic 3-9 (T.Riddell 2, Stursa); Field goals: Oberlin 16-55 (29 percent), Elyria Catholic 16-37 (43 percent); Free throws: Oberlin 6-10 (60 percent), Elyria Catholic 19-31 (61 percent); Rebounds: Oberlin 29 (Moore 8), Elyria Catholic 41 (Stursa 10); Turnovers: Oberlin 18, Elyria Catholic 22; Fouls: Oberlin 23, Elyria Catholic 12; Fouled out: Horton. Junior varsity: Elyria Catholic, 67-38.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at (440) 329-7136 or email@example.com.