LORAIN — With play moving at glacier speed, basketball fans yawned their way through the first quarter of the 16th Lorain County Holiday Classic opener Friday night.
Hard to criticize them. After eight minutes, Elyria Catholic led defending champion Elyria, 8-2.
Make no mistake. No one was yawning by the time the Panthers knocked off the Pioneers, 53-47. It became a classic overtime thriller between the crosstown rivals that saw EC bounce back from a 14-point deficit late in the third quarter.
For their hard work, the Panthers get a shot at Lorain in tonight’s 7:30 championship game on the Titans’ floor. Lorain advanced with a 47-33 victory over Keystone in Friday’s second game.
Elyria Catholic turned the game around with a 15-0 run that started with the Panthers trailing 34-20 with under five minutes to play in the third. By the time the quarter ended, they trailed 34-26. And by the time their run ended, they had a 35-34 lead.
Sophomore guard Riley Schill scored seven of the 15 points on her way to a game-high 27. And another sophomore guard, Julia Scarpelli, scored seven points — including a 3-point basket — as EC won the fourth quarter 18-10.
Fans were on their feet with EC leading 44-42 as the final seconds of regulation time ticked away. Then guard Jocelyn Spraggins, who hadn’t been expected to play, drove to the basket to tie it as the buzzer sounded. The Panthers outscored Elyria 9-3 in overtime, with Schill scoring six points.
“We were very happy that we won,” Schill said. “We were down by so many, but we knew we had to pick it up and come out with a win because we were worked hard this preseason. We worked extremely hard in practice and I think we owed it to ourselves, our coaches and the school to come out, show them what we got and win.
“This is great,” she said. “We had four sophomores and a freshman out there. I think that shows that we’re young, but we can handle a lot of things. It just feels extremely good to win.”
Afterward, the Panthers locker room was loud as coach Eric Rothgery announced the victory was only the third over Elyria by an EC girls team dating to the 1980s, and the first of what he called “the modern era.”
“We were down 14 points and we talked in a couple of timeouts about how we were getting some looks (at the basket), but we just weren’t getting back on defense,” Rothgery said. “Also, we talked at halftime about how they would get a rebound and all of a sudden we have three players covering their girl.
“That’s the kind of thing you get with a young team. Their instincts are telling them to go for the ball, when their basketball instincts should be telling them to get back on defense. But it was a great game. Any time you can beat Elyria it’s good. They have a lot of good athletes and (the Pioneers’) Brian Arth is a great coach.”
Schill was the only EC player in double figures, although Scarpelli finished with nine points. Sybil Roseboro, who nailed two 3-point shots in the first half, scored a team-high 19 points and Spraggins followed with 11. Spraggins had just been cleared to play after missing some preseason time after a concussion.
Arth said he and the team thought Spraggins’ drive to the hoop at the end of regulation time would carry them into overtime with some momentum.
“But for the first two possessions in overtime, we didn’t even know who we were covering,” he said. “We made a lot of little mistakes, but mostly it was turnovers.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EC 53, Elyria 47
ELYRIA (47): Sybil Roseboro 5-7-19, Mikayla Christian 1-1-3, Shayla Middlebrooks 2-0-5, Meaira Williams 0-2-2, Jocelyn Spraggins 5-1-11, Sierra White 3-1-7. Totals 16-12-47.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (53): Julia Scarpelli 3-2-9, Josie Carandang 1-3-5, Riley Schill 6-15-27, Nora Hopkins 1-0-3, Margot Novak 2-1-5, Becky Horvath 0-0-0, Jessie Lee 2-0-4, Sam Filiaggi 0-0-0. Totals 15-21-53.
Elyria 2 22 10 10 3 — 32
Elyria Catholic 8 9 9 18 9 — 45
Three-point goals: Elyria 3-15 (Roseboro 2, Middlebrooks), Elyria Catholic 2-10 (Hopkins, Scarpelli). Field goals: Elyria 16-62 (25.8 percent), Elyria Catholic 17-53 (32.1 percent). Free throws: Elyria 12-18, Elyria Catholic 21-32. Rebounds: Elyria 37, Elyria Catholic 37. Turnovers: Elyria 29, Elyria Catholic 29. Fouled out: White, Hammons, Middlebrooks.