BAY VILLAGE — The true test of a team is how it deals with adversity. Elyria Catholic aced its midterm Monday night.
Brittney McNamara’s 3-pointer with 4:32 to play gave the Panthers their first lead since the first quarter, and Josie Carandang and Becky Horvath sealed the win at the free throw line as Elyria Catholic defeated Bay 59-55 in a West Shore Conference matchup.
Down six in the second half and playing without starting point guard Riley Schill, who missed her second game after an appendectomy, Elyria Catholic (15-3, 8-2) scored the final six points of the third quarter for a tie at 43.
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Bay (6-11, 3-7) answered with a 3-pointer by Claire Werblak to start the fourth quarter. Werblak scored a game-high 25 points, including five 3-pointers.
“There has been some extra pressure on me the last two games but Karissa (McGrath) and Brittney have really helped me out,” Carandang said. “Saturday I was nervous, but tonight I was a lot more confident.”
McGrath did more than just help out her freshman point guard. She led the Panthers with 19 points and 18 rebounds by outjumping and outhustling the Rockets frontcourt while giving up 3 inches.
“It’s important that I hustle and do all I can on the court because I know I’m really not that big,” the 5-foot-9 McGrath said. “So my goal is to battle and do whatever it takes to get a point.”
The win kicked off what might be the most important week of the regular season for the Panthers.
They can force a three-way tie on top of the WSC with a win Saturday over division-leading Lakewood. The following day is the Division III sectional/district seeding meeting, where Elyria Catholic hopes to snare one of the top seeds in the Barberton district.
“We turned up the intensity in the fourth quarter to pull this one out,” Elyria Catholic coach Eric Rothgery said. “We need a couple of wins this week to insure that we put ourselves in a good position in the draw and can get a bye if that’s what we need to do.
“We talked about that today but sometimes you don’t know how much the girls are thinking about the big picture, they just want to go out and win a basketball game.”
The Rockets imploded late in the game, going 3-for-8 from the free throw line in the fourth and wasting more than 40 seconds before fouling Elyria Catholic while trailing by two in the final minute.
“Free throw shooting has been our Achilles’ heel all season. We have never really been better than a 50 percent free throw-shooting team,” Bay coach Chris Brewer said. “I am still really proud of the way our girls played tonight against one of the top teams in the area. We have gone through a tough stretch and the girls never give up and we gave EC everything they could handle.”
The Rockets led by as many as eight in the first half while making six 3-pointers over the first 16 minutes.
McNamara scored 11 of her 17 points in the second half to go along with four steals.
EC 59, Bay 55
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (59): Julia Scarpelli 0-1-1, Brittney McNamara 8-0-17, Shannon Hopkins 1-2-4, Karissa McGrath 7-5-19, Becky Horvath 1-2-4, Josie Carandang 4-6-14. Totals 21-16-59.
BAY (55): Megan Williams 1-0-2, Rachel Jerome 2-3-8, Rachel Williams 2-0-6, Claire Werblak 8-4-25, Zora Ziebarth 2-0-4, Emma Grubaugh 1-0-2, Ellen Hanna 2-4-8. Totals 18-11-55.
Elyria Catholic 12 15 16 16 — 59
Bay 17 14 12 12 — 55
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic (McNamara), Bay (Werblak 5, Williams 2, Jerome); Field goals: Elyria Catholic 21-50 (42 percent), Bay 18-54 (33 percent); Free throws: Elyria Catholic 16-29 (55 percent), Bay 11-21 (52 percent); Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 42, Bay 32; Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 18, Bay 15; Total fouls: Elyria Catholic 17, Bay 18.
Junior varsity: Bay, 53-23.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.