EATON TWP. — After experiencing a sub-.500 regular season, Lorain High was putting together a Cinderella run through the Division I Midview District, knocking off Avon and Avon Lake to reach Wednesday night’s district semifinals.
It came to an end Wednesday night — but not without one last burst from the Titans.
Sixth-seeded Lorain went toe-to-toe with top-seeded Brecksville before falling 63-60, with the Bees earning a berth in the district title game Saturday.
The Titans had a chance to force overtime, gaining possession with 15.8 seconds left and trailing by three points. But a deep 3-pointer from sophomore Sherman Saunders drew iron and Brecksville’s Mike Tyler grabbed the rebound and avoided being fouled before time expired.
Brecksville (21-3) awaits the winner of tonight’s game between second-seeded Westlake and third-seeded Elyria for the chance to win the school’s first district title in 33 years. This is the Bees’ second straight year in the district final.
“We knew that Lorain was probably the most talented team in this district when they play, and they played a full 32 minutes,” said Brecksville coach Steve Mehalik, whose team lost by a point in the district title game last year. “The last two games they played hard in certain spots. I give credit to (Lorain coach) Andy Bastock on getting his team ready to play like they did tonight. They played for 32 minutes, and that’s a (darn) good basketball team. I was very impressed with them.”
Bastock was still fuming from a technical foul called on him late in the third quarter to return the favor.
With the Titans leading by four, Tim Tupa, who scored 12 points, drilled a 3-pointer with 44.1 seconds left. Suddenly, one of the referees whistled Bastock for a technical, which gave Brecksville two free throws and possession.
Mark Chzranowski, who led all scorers with 24 points, sank both free throws, and Tupa followed with a 3-pointer for an eight-point swing. It gave Brecksville a 50-46 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“That official has zero business officiating a tournament basketball game in Ohio, and that’s on the record and please quote me on that,” Bastock said. “He instructed me to go back to my (coaching) box. I go back to my box without saying a word, and I get a technical for it. He has no business ever seeing a tournament floor as an official in this state or any other.
“That was a huge turning point. We had just gotten the lead (on a 7-0 run capped by a layup from senior Andre Phillips). A few plays earlier, their coach was out on the floor for a similar call, screaming, and no technical there. That was the turning point of the game. There’s no way that was deserving of a technical, and he does not deserve to wear those stripes for making a call like that in a game this big.”
The Titans played from behind for most of the fourth quarter, but never let the Bees get too comfortable. A 3-pointer by Phillips, who finished with 15 points, tied the game at 56 with three minutes remaining. However, layups by Tupa and Chzranowski on back-to-back possessions kept the Bees in the lead.
Phillips connected on a pair of free throws with 1:30 remaining to cut the deficit to two. But Chzranowski nailed a huge 3-pointer with a little less than a minute left to make it 63-58.
“Our guys are a veteran group, for the most part, and they’ve been through all these battles without getting rattled,” Mehalik said. “It helps when you make some shots. Timmy Tupa just stepped up. He was getting fouled and pushed all over the court, and he kept his composure and he carried us in that fourth quarter.
“Mark made a huge 3-pointer in the corner, and once we got up by three, we felt a little bit safer because they’re not a great 3-point shooting team. So that kind of helped.”
A big putback by sophomore Devon Andrews, who led the Titans with 16 points, cut the deficit to three with 42 seconds remaining, and when Chzranowski missed the front end of a one-and-one with 22.2 seconds remaining, Lorain had one more chance.
“I love my kids,” Bastock said. “They fought their hearts out. They deserved to win that game. That game was theirs to win. They got the lead and then that (technical) happened. That was a huge turning point, and that grew to a five-point lead and we kept scrapping to keep in it from there.
“My kids did everything they needed to do to win that game. I’m so very proud of them. I thought we could win it and I thought we should win it. And it was stolen from them.”
Senior Louis Cheers added 12 points and seven rebounds in his final game in a Titans uniform.
“Phillips and Cheers were playing like seniors that were playing for their tournament lives,” Bastock said. “They played great — inside, outside, offensively, defensively, from the perimeter or on the glass. That’s what it takes to win games, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Brecksville 63, Lorain 60
BRECKSVILLE (63): Mark Chrzanowski 8-4-24, Matt Csuhran 5-1-12, Tim Tupa 5-0-12, Tom Tupa 1-0-3, Paul Karthan 1-0-2, Tyler Tupa 1-0-2, Mike Tyler 2-1-5, Jon Belhorn 1-0-3. Totals 24-6-63.
LORAIN (60): Devon Andrews 5-6-16, Andre Phillips 5-3-15, Louis Cheers 5-2-12, Rashod Berry 5-0-10, Eddie Williamson 1-0-2, Sherman Saunders 2-0-5, Demon Hisle 0-0-0, Brandon Rodriquez 0-0-0, Gerald Howard 0-0-0. Totals 23-11-60.
Brecksville 19 12 19 13 — 63
Lorain 13 16 17 14 — 60
Three-point goals: Brecksville 9-27 (Chrzanowski 4, Tim Tupa 2, Csuhran, Tom Tupa, Belhorn), Lorain 3-17 (Phillips 2, Saunders); Field goals: Brecksville 24-51 (47 percent), Lorain 23-50 (46 percent); Free throws: Brecksville 6-10 (60 percent), Lorain 11-19 (58 percent); Rebounds: Brecksville 27 (Tyler 8, Csuhran 6), Lorain 31 (Cheers 7, Berry 7); Assists: Brecksville 15 (Tim Tupa 5), Lorain 9 (Phillips 3, Andrews 3). Turnovers: Brecksville 12, Lorain 10; Total fouls: Brecksville 15, Lorain 12; Fouled out: None; Technical foul: Lorain coach Bastock.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.