Once it hit the bottom of the net, the rout was on.
Elyria rolled to a 10-2 lead, ballooned it to 46-15 by halftime and coasted to an 85-41 trouncing for its 11th win in 13 games. The Pioneers improved to 4-1 in the Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division. Normandy, with one senior and three freshmen on its roster, fell to 1-10 and 0-5.
“It’s a conference game,” Bender said. “We wanted to come out and make a point.”
The Pioneers definitely did that as Bender and Isaiah Walton finished with 17 points each to lead the way.
Elyria knocked down a dozen 3-pointers, one shy of the school record set in 1993 against North Ridgeville. You can bet Pioneers coach Brett Larrick remembers that game since he made nine of those threes on the way to a then-school-record 43 points.
But it wasn’t just the shooting that was impressive (54 percent from the field) Friday, it was Elyria’s swarming, pressure defense. Normandy was held without a field goal from the final 2:49 of the first quarter to just over five minutes into the — a span of nearly 16 minutes.
The Invaders also coughed up the ball 19 times to just five for Elyria, which led 75-28 lead after three quarters.
“We knew they were young,” Bender said of the Invaders. “We pressured them right away. We usually start off setting up a three for me and it felt great to hit the first one.”
“We scouted them out and knew we were going to get screened,” Larrick said. “We gave one up to start the game — a layup on a diagonal — and we wanted to pick the pressure up and get the tempo up. We wanted to wear them out and we did that from the get-go.”
The defense and hot shooting became contagious. Ronnie Smith had a slew of steals in the backcourt, Tavon Kurtz (six rebounds, four points) and Jarred Schultz (14 points, five boards) came off the bench to provide a spark and Da’Jaun Glover was all over the floor — literally — saving balls from going out of bounds.
Larrick was able to play all 14 players who dressed for varsity and 11 of them scored.
“Our effort the last four, five games … we’ve played extremely hard,” Larrick said. “We’re chasing guys down from behind and stopping passes from getting over our head. We’re getting better traps and it helps when you make some shots.”
Elyria took 61 shots at the basket — 26 from outside the 3-point arc — and hit 33 — just three fewer than the number of shots Normandy got off.
“I thought we were mentally ready and physically we looked fresh,” Larrick said. “Hopefully, we’ll look fresh again (tonight at Elyria Catholic) with as many guys as we played.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria 85, Normandy 41
NORMANDY (41): Terrance Hogan 2-2-6, Petey Zaremba 0-0-0, Troy Massa 4-0-10, Donny Campbell 2-6-10, Jaret Colovas 3-5-11, Kenny Kitko 1-0-3, Tom Poloma 0-0-0, Brett Newman 0-1-1, John Suchy 0-0-0, Ben Jones 0-0-0, Ryan Tucholski 0-0-0. Totals 12-14-41.
ELYRIA (85): Kody Bender 7-2-17, Dontae Dukes 1-0-2, Isaiah Walton 6-0-17, Ronnie Smith 2-4-9, A.J. Johnson 0-0-0, Du’Jaun Glover 2-0-5, Jarred Schultz 6-0-14, Tavon Kurtz 2-0-4, Hunter Parsh 2-0-6, Anthony Duckett 2-1-5, Damon Stewart 1-0-2, Rodger Jamison 0-0-0, KJ Miller 0-0-0, Trenell Oliver 2-0-4. Totals 33-7-85.
Normandy 13 2 13 13 — 41
Elyria 21 25 29 10 — 85
Three-point goals: Normandy 3-6 (Massa 2, Kitko), Elyria 12-26 (Walton 5, Schultz 2, Parsh 2, Bender, Smith, Glover); Field goals: Normandy 12-36 (33 percent), Elyria 33-61 (54 percent); Free throws: Normandy 14-18 (77 percent), Elyria 7-13 (54 percent); Rebounds: Normandy 24 (Campbell 5), Elyria 33 (Kurtz 6); Turnovers: Normandy 21, Elyria 6; Fouls: Normandy 14, Elyria 13; Fouled out: Campbell.
Junior varsity: Elyria, 61-35