PARMA — The easier it appears, the harder it becomes for Elyria’s basketball team.
The Pioneers scored the game’s first 15 points — 11 from senior Kody Bender — on Friday yet struggled to hold off Parma 79-69 in a Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division game.
It took making nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter and 21-of-23 for the game for Elyria to get the win and improve to 16-5 overall and 7-2 in the league. Parma fell to 6-13 overall and 4-4.
Isaiah Walton had a career-high 30 points and Bender finished with 23 as the Pioneers secured their best record since going 17-6 and making the Sweet 16 in 2006-07 — the final chapter to Bob Walsh’s illustrious career.
“It was a game of spurts,” said Elyria coach Brett Larrick, who improved to 53-55 for his career, despite going 2-19 his first season. “Another great start. We’ve gotten off to some great starts lately. We played extremely hard to start — Kody got hot. We had some nice passes, some nice deflections on defense but, again, we sort of let our guard down and gave up some layups out of our press.”
Parma didn’t quit. In fact, the Redmen put on a 3-point and layup clinic to close out the rest of the first half. Parma was 5-of-8 from the 3-point arc the first half and managed to beat Elyria’s press for some contested and sometimes uncontested layins to pull within 39-38 at halftime.
Parma managed to take its first and only lead, 42-41, early in the third quarter on back-to-back buckets by 6-foot-7 sophomore Greg Smalley, who scored 17 points the first time the two met.
Fortunately for the Pioneers, that was all Smalley scored Friday, and thanks to Walton, who scored 16 of his points in the third quarter, Elyria took the lead right back.
“We started out really good,” Walton said. “I don’t know, I think we relaxed a little bit after we got the lead. The second half, I just tried to be more aggressive.”
“I think it did come a little too easy,” said Bender, who scored 13 points in the first quarter and 17 the first half.
Walton and Bender did a lot of damage at the foul line. They were perfect on 11 second-half attempts and combined to hit 18-of-19.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Elyria 79, Parma 69
ELYRIA (79): Kody Bender 5-11-23, Dontae Dukes 2-0-4, Isaiah Walton 11-7-30, Anthony Duckett 3-0-7, A.J. Johnson 3-0-6, Du’Jaun Glover 0-0-0, Jarred Schultz 2-2-6, Ronnie Smith 0-1-1, Tavon Kurtz 1-0-2, Rodger Jamison 0-0-0. Totals 27-21-79.
PARMA (69): Zach Toth 2-0-5, Anthony Schmook 7-0-18, Chris Rantanes 4-0-11, Greg Smalley 2-0-4, Marko Janjetovic 6-4-16, Tyler Duetsch 1-0-2, Jared Purpura 1-0-2, Skylar Pastva 4-3-11. Totals 27-7-69.
Elyria 23 16 23 17 — 79
Parma 14 24 19 12 — 69
Three-point goals: Elyria 4-13 (Bender 2, Walton, Duckett), Parma 8-21 (Schmook 4, Rantanes 3, Toth); Field goals: Elyria 27-52 (52 percent), Parma 27-56 (48 percent); Free throws: Elyria 21-23 (91 percent), Parma 7-11 (64 percent); Rebounds: Elyria 31 (Bender, Johnson 6), Parma 28 (Janjetovic 11); Turnovers: Elyria 14, Parma 17; Fouls: Elyria 12, Parma 20; Technical foul: Janjetovic. Fouled out: Toth.
Junior varsity: Elyria, 70-53.