ELYRIA — In a game of stark contrasts, Elyria Catholic barely held off upset-minded North Ridgeville 66-63 in a West Shore Conference game at the Coliseum on Tuesday.
• The Rangers (3-13, 0-10) shot a blistering 55 percent from beyond the 3-point line (11-for-20), but only 34 percent from the field overall (25-for-63), while Elyria Catholic (9-8, 6-5) tried only five from beyond the arc, making three, but overall hit 52 percent from the field (23-for-44).
• North Ridgeville attempted only five free throws even though it had just five more fouls than Elyria Catholic (18-13), while the Panthers went 17-for-25 from the line.
• The Rangers got off 63 field-goal attempts to only 44 for the Panthers due to Elyria Catholic committing a whopping 26 turnovers to 19 for North Ridgeville.
John Stursa, a 6-foot-1 senior, pulled down a team-leading eight rebounds for EC, but none were bigger than the one he grabbed with just 10 seconds left in the game and North Ridgeville leading 63-62.
Fouled on the play, he made two free throws to provide the winning points. Daniel Whitacre added two insurance free throws with :02 remaining.
“When I was at the line all I could think was, ‘They better go in,’” Stursa said. “But I was also shooting with confidence.”
As for the 26 turnovers, Stursa gave credit to the Rangers’ defense for some of that.
“We had a difficult time with their press,” he said.
The hottest Ranger was 5-9 junior Bailey Gannon, who connected on career-high five 3-pointers, including three at crunch time in the fourth quarter, helping North Ridgeville fight back from a 48-37 deficit.
His last 3-pointer closed the gap to 60-59 with 2:23 remaining in the fourth.
Dennis Millgard, a 6-0 junior, gave the Rangers a 63-62 lead on a layup after EC’s seventh turnover of the fourth quarter with 59 ticks left on the clock. North Ridgeville, however, could not score on its last three possessions.
“I thought they gave me some good looks at the basket,” Gannon said. “This is a team we really want to beat.”
“The key for us tonight was our defense,” North Ridgeville coach Bryan Morgan said. “We forced a lot of turnovers and also hit some big shots. If we had only limited our turnovers and not missed a lot of layups we would have won this game.”
Elyria Catholic coach Jason Smith was positive despite the many turnovers.
“Give Coach Morgan a lot of credit,” Smith said. “He had a great game plan and his kids executed it. They were on fire in the last quarter with a barrage of 3-pointers.”
Contact Jerry Rombach at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EC 66, North Ridgeville 63
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (63): Bailey Gannon 7-1-20, Matt Clark 6-0-15, Nate Inal 4-1-10, Dennis Millgard 4-0-9, Noland Freeman 2-0-4, Nathan Colbert 1-0-3, Dan Teitenberg 0-0-0. Totals 25-2-63.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (66): Daniel Whitacre 5-5-15, Tyler Riddell 5-1-13, Xavier Bennett 5-2-12, John Stursa 2-6-10, Cory Strasko 2-3-8, Ceeven Shelton 3-0-6,Conner Riddell 1-0-2, D.J. Graham 0-0-0. Totals 23-17-66.
North Ridgeville 13 15 15 20 — 63
Elyria Catholic 12 18 18 18 — 66
Three-point goals: North Ridgeville 11-20 (Gannon 5, Clark 3, Inal, Millgard, Colbert), EC 3-5 (Tyler Riddell 2, Strasko); Field goals: North RidgevilleR 25-63 (34 percent), EC 23-44 (52 percent); Free throws: North Ridgeville 2-5 (40 percent), EC 17-25 (68 percent); Rebounds: North Ridgeville 28 (Inal 6), EC 37 (Stursa 8, Bennett 8); Turnovers: North Ridgeville 19, EC 26; Total fouls: North Ridgeville 18, EC 13; Fouled out: Inal.
Junior varsity: Elyria Catholic, 53-47