ELYRIA — The Division I sectional final between Amherst and Lorain on Wednesday night was billed as the battle of the giants, with the area’s top two big girls — Lorain’s Alex Harris and Amherst’s Brooke Wallace — doing battle in the paint.
But in the end it was a 5-foot-7 guard who stole the show.
Morgan Dziak hit six 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 20 points to lead the Comets to a 47-38 victory.
The No. 2-seeded Comets (18-5) advance to the district semifinals where they will face No. 4-seeded Elyria, who opened the night with a 48-45 overtime upset over No. 3 Westlake.
“It was a good game,” Dziak said. “My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball and I threw it up and it kept going in. I felt like I was on, but it wasn’t something I was really thinking about — I just took the shots that were open.”
Dziak’s biggest shot of the night was a 3-pointer at the buzzer that sent Amherst into the locker room at halftime with a 31-19 lead.
“I just threw that up and got lucky it went it,” she said. “It was pretty exciting to see it go in. It feels amazing to get this win, especially after going out so quickly in the tournament last year.”
Lorain (15-9) had things going its way early on, taking a 16-13 lead after one quarter while Wallace and point guard Brianna Shagovac were both in early foul trouble for the Comets. Things quickly went south for the Titans as a technical foul called on junior Angelique Flores sparked a 20-3 Amherst run.
“I knew we could have a chance at taking control of the game when Brooke picked up those two early fouls, but unfortunately for us we didn’t seize the opportunity,” Lorain coach Mark Feldmann said. “We have been offensively challenged all year. We can play defense with anyone in Lorain County, but we just didn’t have a lot of natural scorers on this roster.”
Although the Titans only shot 27 percent from the field they did have one more run in them, cutting the Amherst lead to four early in the fourth quarter. But Dziak answered with another 3-pointer to make the score 38-31.
Harris, wearing a Lorain uniform for the final time before heading off to Penn State, led her team with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Whenever Dziak wasn’t firing up jumpers her teammate senior Sydney Failing was taking over the scoring load. Failing finished with 18 points. Failing had the ball in her hands at the end of the game as the Titans resorted to fouling to keep time from slipping away. Failing finished the night 8-of-10 from the free throw line.
As a team, the Comets shot 81 percent from the 3-point line.
“That was a hard fought girls basketball game tonight,” Amherst coach John Rositano said. “Give Lorain a lot of credit. They play hard, but fortunately we made shots in big situations when we needed to.”
Rositano was happy to see the large crowd that came out to watch both games.
“Girls basketball in Lorain County is growing,” he said. “It’s getting better and you can see the excitement for the sport growing and that enthusiasm was evident tonight.”
Amherst 47, Lorain 38
LORAIN(38): Gretchen Conibear 2-0-6, Alex Harris 8-2-18, Angelique 2-1-6, Destiny Wilson 2-0-4, Ashley Malone 2-0-4. Totals 16-3-38.
AMHERST (47): Sheridan Champe 1-0-2, Morgan Dziak 7-0-20, Sydney Failing 4-8-18, Megan Salisbury 0-1-1, Sara Elliot 0-2-2, Brooke Wallace 1-2-4. Totals 13-13-47.
Lorain 16 3 10 9 — 38
Amherst 13 18 4 12 — 47
Three-point goals: Lorain (Conibear 2, Flores); Amherst (Dziak 6, Failing 2). Field goals: Lorain 16-59 (27 percent), Amherst 13-32 (41 percent); Free throws: Lorain 3-6 (50 percent), Amherst 13-16 (81 percent); Rebounds: Lorain 44, Amherst 20; Turnovers: Lorain 14, Amherst 10; Total fouls: Lorain 18, Amherst 11.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.