In a replay of last year’s title game, Elyria and Elyria Catholic launch the girls basketball season tonight in the 16th Lorain County Holiday Classic at Lorain High.
EC and Elyria have something in common. The teams are young and each has just one senior. Unfortunately, the seniors will not face each other this weekend.
Jocelyn Spraggins, the Pioneers’ 5-5 guard, is sidelined after suffering a concussion in the preseason. First-year coach Brian Arth said it is not known when she will return. The Panthers’ senior is 5-7 guard Natalie Tremont, a captain, who is healthy, ready to go and pumped about playing the Pioneers.
“I love playing against Elyria,” Tremont said. “It gets you so excited. You have friends there and you just want to win against them. You want that bragging right, I guess. Even though we’re young, the sophomores especially have had so much experience playing AAU basketball that we play like they’re not sophomores.”
Just because she won’t see action doesn’t mean Spraggins isn’t enthusiastic about the game or the season. The Pioneers lost talent when Mary Jones graduated in June and post Alexis Middlebrooks, a senior, decided to concentrate on volleyball instead.
“I think we’re still gonna be good,” Spraggins said. “Not think. I know we’re gonna be good. I have faith in these girls. Everybody can contribute. We’re very athletic, we have girls who can shoot, girls who can drive and I’m very confident in them.”
The 2012 champion Pioneers and runner-up Panthers clash at 6 p.m. to open the annual doubleheader. Last year’s Classic final was a thriller that went down to the wire. Elyria pulled out a 49-42 victory to win the championship for the 13th time. EC took the trophy in 2010 and Lorain in 2011.
Keystone, returning to the Classic after a two-year absence, and host Lorain meet in the second game at 7:30. Tonight’s winners will play for the championship at 7:30 Saturday. The consolation game tips off at 6 o’clock.
Coach Mark Feldmann’s Lorain Titans will be playing for the first time in four years without 6-foot-3 post Alex Harris, who is now at Penn State. Lorain needs strong starts by senior guards Angelique Flores and Destiny Wilson to replace the nearly 12 points per game Harris provided last season.
But the Titans are optimistic about the potential of 6-2 freshman post Malaya Simmons.
The Wildcats, led by senior posts 5-8 Darcy Irish and 6-0 Jillian Peters, are looking to rebound from an un-Keystone-like 6-17 season. It will be the first Holiday Classic meeting between the two schools since Lorain High opened in 2010.
In other area action tonight, Firelands hosts Vermilion in another backyard rivalry. Mount Union recruit Casey Morrissette leads the Falcons, along with guard Brandi Holowecky and 6-0 post Keely Hall.
Vermilion lost a potent scorer when Lorain County Miss Basketball AuBree LaForce graduated last spring. But don’t despair for the Sailors. They return senior Hannah Bartlome, who is one of the best outside shooters in the area and is expected to threaten the school scoring record LaForce holds. Bartlome averaged about 14 points a game last year.
Other weekend openers include: Tonight — Bay at Brookside, Columbia at Trinity, Wellington at North Ridgeville, Rocky River at Westlake and Christian Community at Open Door; Saturday — North Olmsted at Avon, Lucas at Black River and Avon Lake at Lake Ridge.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com. Todd Shapiro also contributed to this article.
WHAT: 16th Lorain County Holiday Classic
WHO: Elyria vs. Elyria Catholic, 6 o’clock; Lorain vs. Keystone, 7:30
WHERE: Lorain High School