ELYRIA — AuBree LaForce had a dream game Saturday, it just wasn’t enough to extend Vermilion’s dream season.
Despite a career-high 32 points from LaForce, the Sailors fell 52-45 to Holy Name in the Division II district final at Elyria High School.
Making its first trip to the district finals since 1995, No. 5-seeded Vermilion (14-11) made third-seeded Holy Name (17-9) sweat to earn its first regional ticket since 2007. Holy Name moves on to play Canfield in the regional semifinals Tuesday at Barberton.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” said LaForce, a senior guard. “It’s been my dream (qualifying to regionals) since I was little. I wanted this one more than anything and I was going to do everything it took to win. We fell a little short, but I’m very proud of how far we’ve come.”
Vermilion, which hadn’t won a sectional game since LaForce’s freshman year, was crushed 72-41 in last year’s sectional opener by Keystone and finished the season 6-15.
It didn’t appear this would be Vermilion’s year for a strong postseason run either. The Sailors lost three of their last four regular-season games before turning things around with wins over Rocky River (36-32) and No. 1-seeded Fairview (37-31).
“No one thought we’d be fighting for a district championship after the way we finished last year,” LaForce said. “I’m very proud of my teammates.”
LaForce made 12 of 20 shots from the field, including four of five 3-pointers, and was 4-of-8 from the free throw line. The effort eclipsed her previous career high of 31 set her sophomore year against Huron.
“We really focused on stopping her,” Holy Name coach Kim Jones said. “We just didn’t do a good job of it. We depended on our help in terms of switching screens on her. I expected a good game and that’s what they gave us. They’re a good team.”
LaForce was especially dominant in the second half, going 8-for-12 from the field and scoring 20 of her team’s 24 points. Her teammates struggled from the field, making just 3-of-22 for the day and scoring only 13 points.
Vermilion owned a 27-25 rebounding edge behind senior Ellen Rossi’s team-high 10. Each team made 15 baskets, but Holy Name was
19-of-28 at the line versus 11-of-19 for the Sailors.
“We gave it everything we had,” Vermilion coach Colin Irish said. “We lost to a very good team. Their height bothered us a little bit. They were more physical. We executed, but we didn’t get the breaks that we needed to win a game like this.
“It was a tough run. Hannah Bartlome’s grandfather died last week. Another player had her brother in the hospital. Ellen Rossi played the last couple weeks with a broken foot. This is a game. I can’t tell you how proud I am of them.”
Sophomore guard Rachel Kucharczyk led Holy Name with 14 points, while junior center Erica Davis and junior forward Kim Cook scored 12 each.
“We mostly played man defense against them,” Jones said. “We talked about switching to a zone the second half but we were worried about their 3-point shooter (Bartlome). We really didn’t take the opportunity to do that the second half.”
Vermilion trailed 27-21 at halftime and just 41-37 after the third quarter, but the Green Wave opened the last quarter with an 8-2 run. A LaForce three cut the lead to five with 1:33 left, but Vermilion couldn’t score another basket.
“We just really focused on our defense,” LaForce said. “Any time they got an extended lead we knew we had to step it up. I did everything I could to make sure the game stayed reasonable. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get over the hump. But I think we gave it all we had.”
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holy Name 52, Vermilion 45
VERMILION (45): AuBree LaForce 12-4-32, Hannah Bartlome 0-4-4, Andrea Dillon, 1-3-5, Ali Kowal 2-0-4, Jennifer Kovarik 0-0-0, Ellen Rossi 0-0-0. Totals 15-11-45.
HOLY NAME (52): Emily Davis 2-0-4, Rachel Kucharczyk 4-3-14, Kim Cook 4-4-12, Erica Davis 3-6-12, Sammie Day 1-2-4, Meghan Adams 1-3-5, Toni Dickson 0-1-1. Totals 15-19-52.
Vermilion 10 11 16 8 — 45
Holy Name 11 16 14 11 — 52
Three-point goals: Vermilion 4-11 (LaForce 4), Holy Name 3-9 (Kucharczyk 3); Field goals: Vermilion 15-42 (36 percent), Holy Name 15-30 (50 percent); Free throws: Vermilion 11-19 (58 percent), Holy Name 19-28 (68 percent); Rebounds: Vermilion 27 (Rossi 10), Holy Name 25 (Cook 6); Turnovers: Vermilion 12, Holy Name 11; Total fouls: Vermilion 19, Holy Name 14.