ELYRIA — Closing out games has been a problem for Elyria Catholic this season, but the Panthers finally found a way to win Tuesday night at the Coliseum.
After building a 21-point lead, EC hung on to beat West Shore Conference rival Midview 64-53 for its first win of the year in three tries. The Middies evened their mark at 2-2. Both teams are 1-1 in the WSC.
“The last couple games, we’ve let some leads slip by us,” said 6-foot-6 senior Jeremy Holley. “I got a little worried once they started to cut the deficit down. It’s something we need to work on.”
Holley was a beast inside, leading the Panthers in scoring and rebounding with 15 points and 16 boards.
Midview had sliced a 53-32 lead all the way to 59-53 with 1:18 to play after a 21-6 run to close out the third quarter and start the final one, but the Panthers managed to spread out the offense, get some free throws and layups to seal the win.
“We talked about that from the Vermilion game,” EC coach Phil Kuchta said of Friday’s loss. “We were up 10 at one point there and kind of let off the throttle. Tonight just give Midview a lot of credit. I know we made some mistakes. We have to do a better job of staying within ourselves.”
EC rushed things a little bit when Midview made its run.
The Panthers committed seven turnovers down the stretch in the third quarter and had three more early in the fourth before settling down.
Jacob Kuchta and Holley made layups to push the lead back to 10 in the final minute as the Middies couldn’t squeeze the margin any closer.
“I am proud of my guys,” Coach Kuchta said. “Hold them off, get a couple stops at the end and get it back to 10 and catch our breath for a minute.”
Kuchta’s son scored 10 points and EC had seven others contribute at least four. At times, the Panthers moved the ball well on offense.
For Midview coach Troy DiFranco, the explanation was simple.
“That’s the least amount of togetherness we’ve played with all year,” he said.
“We didn’t share the basketball well. We didn’t run our sets well. We just had too many individuals just trying to do their own thing.”
Midview’s solid sophomore class provided a good share of the offense. Jacob Wells scored 18 points and had five rebounds, while Daimion Mahone had 12 points and nine rebounds.
“For us to win, we’ve got to play together,” DiFranco said. “We did not play together.”
Elyria Catholic 64, Midview 53
MIDVIEW (53): Matt Randolph 3-0-6, Jacob Wells 7-1-18, Logan Bolin 1-0-3, Daimion Mahone 4-3-12, Jack Duffner 2-0-4, Grant Overy 2-2-8, Kyle Warner 0-0-0, Brett Zupanic 0-0-0, Ryan Miller 0-0-0, Vince Blevins 1-0-2. Totals 20-6-53.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (64): DJ Graham 2-0-4, Conner Riddell 1-2-5, Ceevan Shelton 4-0-9, Jeremy Holley 6-3-15, Jacob Kuchta 4-0-10, Angelo Cruz 3-0-8, Drew Kaplan 0-0-0, James Tirbaso 2-0-4, Darin Guice 2-0-5, Cole Virgin 2-0-4. Totals 26-5-64.
Midview 13 12 15 13 — 53
Elyria Catholic 18 19 18 9 — 64
Three-point goals: Midview 7-18 (Wells 3, Overy 2, Mahone, Bolin), Elyria Catholic 7-21 (Kuchta 2, Cruz 2, Riddell, Shelton, Guice); Field goals: Midview 20-59 (34 percent), Elyria Catholic 26-53 (49 percent); Free throws: Midview 6-12 (50 percent), Elyria Catholic 5-11 (45 percent); Rebounds: Midview 35 (Mahone 9), Elyria Catholic 37 (Holley 16); Turnovers: Midview 12, Elyria Catholic 16; Fouls: Midview 15, Elyria Catholic 16.
Junior varsity: Elyria Catholic 56-19