ELYRIA — If St. Edward coach Eric Flannery was worried about a letdown following a huge emotional win over a nationally ranked team, those thoughts were put to bed pretty early at Elyria High on Friday.
The Pioneers jumped out to an early lead but the Eagles bounced back quickly in handing Elyria a 66-48 loss, its second straight.
“They’re a good team,” Elyria coach Brett Larrick said of the Eagles (11-4). “We talked about holding off their spurts. There were a couple rebounds we thought we had (early in the game) but then they get some free throws out of it. Those are plays we talked about. Fifty-fifty balls and rebounds we had to get.
It’s a tough team to beat.
“They have good size and strength everywhere and athleticism. They keep balls alive. The guards rebound hard. Defensively, they box out hard. They get after it.”
The Pioneers (11-4) jumped in front 12-6 over the first four minutes behind a pair of 3-pointers by Kody Bender but the Eagles finished the quarter on a 13-0 run, then started the second with a 11-2 spurt to open a 30-14 lead with just under three minutes left in the half.
“We started off a little sluggish,” Flannery said.
“Elyria was playing well. We just got into a tempo late in the first and early second quarter and really kind of took the momentum over.”
“We were very concerned,” Flannery said of the challenge he expected from Elyria, particularly after his Eagles knocked off previously unbeaten Mater Dei from California on Monday. “We knew (Elyria) had two really good players (Bender and Isaiah Walton) and coming into their gym, we knew they’d be fired up, especially with the fact that we won a big game. I think that just builds to their anticipation of us coming in.”
“You always worry about a little bit of a letdown. You play your archrival (St. Ignatius last Friday) and you play a great team like Mater Dei and you get that win, but then a few days later you have to come and play another game on the road.”
Flannery didn’t need to worry. St. Edward is deep, big, strong and physical. The Eagles aren’t particularly tall — their biggest starters are both 6-foot-6 — but they managed to keep offensive rebounds alive long enough to either draw a foul or stick it back in the basket.
Sophomore Kipper Nichols did the most damage with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Two other Eagles — 6-2 junior Malcolm Walters and 6-3 junior Will Meyer — had five rebounds each. Tony Vuyancih, a 6-4 junior, chipped in 14 points and 6-4 junior Marsalis Hamilton had 10.
Even though Bender had 23 points, St. Edward made Elyria work awfully hard on offense. Bender did manage to get to the foul line seven times in the fourth quarter and knocked down all nine of his attempts for the game, but it was too little, too late for the Pioneers.
Walton, with 13 points, was the only other Pioneer in double figures.
“I thought between Bender and Walton, our goal was to just wear them down and make all their touches tough,” Flannery said. “In the middle part of the game, I thought we did a great job with that. That’s why we were able to extend our lead.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
St. Edward 66, Elyria 48
ST. EDWARD (66): Tony Vuyancih 5-2-14, Tim Stainbrook 1-0-2, Marsalis Hamilton 5-0-10, Kipper Nichols 6-5-17, Royal Eddie 1-0-2, Pat Riley 2-0-4, Malcolm Walters 3-0-7, Will Meyer 2-2-6, Mike Ryan 2-0-4, Phil Parente 0-0-0, Brandon Simpson 0-0-0, Justin Follmer 0-0-0, Conner Pisco 0-0-0, Collin Popson 0-0-0, Jack Flannery 0-0-0. Totals 27-9-66.
ELYRIA (48): Kody Bender 5-9-23, Dontae Dukes 0-1-1, Isaiah Walton 6-0-13, Ronnie Smith 3-0-7, A.J. Johnson 2-0-4, Da’Jaun Glover 0-0-0, Tavon Kurtz 0-0-0, Jarred Schultz 0-0-0, Hunter Parsh 0-0-0, Anthony Duckett 0-0-0, Damon Stewart 0-0-0, Trenell Oliver 0-0-0, K.J. Miller 0-0-0, Rodger Jamison 0-0-0. Totals 16-10-48.
St. Edward 19 13 22 22 — 66
Elyria 12 10 12 14 — 48
Three-point goals: St. Edward 3-15 (Vuyancih 2, Walters), Elyria 6-17 (Bender 4, Walton, Smith); Field goals: St. Edward 27-58 (46.5 percent), Elyria 16-53 (30 percent); Free throws: St. Edward 9-16 (56 percent), Elyria 10-14 (71 percent); Rebounds: St. Edward 41 (Nichols 13), Elyria 33 (Dukes 7); Turnovers: St. Edward 16, Elyria 20. Total fouls: St. Edward 15, Elyria 17. Fouled out: Dukes.
Junior varsity: St. Edward, 60-47