ELYRIA — Just when Elyria Catholic got back in the game, Clearview’s Eric Burkey ripped it away from the Panthers.
After Jeremy Holley’s tip-in tied it with 10 seconds left, Burkey went the length of the court for what became the deciding layup with three seconds remaining. The Panthers tried to tie the game with a full-court pass, but Clearview picked it off and iced a 75-71 victory with a pair of free throws in the season-opening game for both teams.
“Honestly, when I crossed half court I knew I was taking the last shot,” Burkey said. “My teammate Caleb (Branscrum) did a good job setting a screen and I knew as soon as he came up I was going to the hole.”
However, the Panthers were handicapped a bucket. Holley scored at the 4:01 mark of the first quarter. The scorekeeper never credited Elyria Catholic with the field goal and by the time it was addressed, officials said the error was uncorrectable.
Holley still managed a double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds in his first game back from missing all last season due to a broken leg suffered during the football season.
“We were told that there was a bucket that was not counted,” Panthers coach Phil Kuchta said. “It was an uncorrectable error.
We lost by four so I don’t know if it really matters. Those type of things are going to happen, but I’ve never seen it happen in a game where we weren’t able to get the bucket back when everyone in the place it seems like knows it was wrong.”
Clearview coach John Szalay said he did not notice that a field goal was missing from Elyria Catholic’s score.
Conner Riddell sparked the Panthers’ rally in the fourth quarter. After Holley made two free throws, Riddell picked off a pass and converted a layup with a foul to pull Elyria Catholic within three.
Then Jacob Kuchta hit a three to tie the game at 64 and Holley gave Elyria Catholic its first lead since 5:15 in the first quarter with a pair of free throws. The Panthers would have led at the 4:01 mark had Holley’s layup been recorded.
“Conner is definitely a hard-nosed basketball player,” Phil Kuchta said. “He went into the second quarter and right away made some things happen. I think all of our guys fed off of that.”
The Panthers’ lead would be short-lived.
Clearview’s Gerrell Williams went on a personal 6-0 run — splitting a 1-and-1 (his first and only missed free throw of the game), hitting a layup and capping his run with a putback and a foul to put the Clippers up 70-66.
“I just had to take over,” said Williams, who led the Clippers with 22 points. “I’m the captain on the team so I tried to lead, just take over whenever I can so we won’t lose.”
Clearview and Elyria Catholic exchanged free throws before Ceeven Shelton converted a layup and got fouled, but couldn’t convert the free throws. Shelton’s miss at the 49-second mark was the Panthers’ fourth in five tries since Williams took the lead back for the Clippers.
Other than the uncounted bucket, what doomed the Panthers was their slow start. Clearview had no turnovers in the first quarter to Elyria Catholic’s six and put together a 12-4 run to build a 24-15 lead.
Riddell once again was the spark in the second quarter.
Down 28-17, Riddell came up with a steal and found Holley for a layup. That started a 9-0 run to pull the Panthers within four at the 6:03 mark and the Panthers ultimately went into halftime down 44-39.
Jacob Kuchta and Shelton also hit double figures for the Panthers with 18 and 14.
Daimon Knowles had 13 points, Lance Billings chipped in 11 and Jason Young added 10 for the Clippers, while Branscrum led the team in rebounds with eight.
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Clearview 75, Elyria Catholic 71
CLEARVIEW (75): Jason Young 5-0-10, Gerrell Williams 7-8-22, Daimon Knowles 3-7-13, Iben Huff, 0-1-1, Eric Burkey 3-2-10, Caleb Branscrum 3-0-6, Davonte Sutton 1-0-2, Maliek Ivey 0-0-0, Lance Billings 3-2-11, Sharrod Brown 0-0-0. Totals 25-20-75.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (71): Jacob Kuchta 5-5-18, James Tirbaso 1-3-5, Jeremy Holley 5-8-18, DJ Graham 2-0-5, Ceeven Shelton 5-0-14, Angelo Cruz 0-0-0, Drew Kaplan 2-0-4, Cole Virgin 1-0-2, Conner Riddell 2-0-5. Totals 23-16-71.
Clearview 24 20 18 13 — 75
Elyria Catholic 15 24 12 20 — 71
Three-point goals: Clearview 5-18 (Billings 3, Burkey 2), Elyria Catholic 9-20 (Shelton 4, Kuchta 3, Graham 1). Field goals: Clearview 25-56 (44 percent), Elryia Catholic 23-49 (46 percent). Free throws: Clearview 20-27 (70 percent), Elyria Catholic 16-23 (69 percent). Rebounds: Clearview 28 (Branscrum 8), Elyria Catholic 34 (Holley 15). Total fouls: Clearview 21, Elyria Catholic 24. Turnovers: Clearview 13, Elyria Catholic 15.