ROCKY RIVER — Sometimes, a win is a win.
Elyria Catholic girls basketball coach Eric Rothgery wasn’t too happy with how his young team played Monday night at Lutheran West’s Whitrock Gymnasium.
But he wasn’t about to quibble with the 52-36 final score, which improved his Panthers to 8-1.
“We didn’t play very well,” Rothgery said. “It was a sloppy game. With a young team, and no disrespect to Lutheran West, but we have a tendency to play to our competition. That’s an issue you’re going to have with a young team and we’re trying to work through that. But we’ll take the win.
“We’re starting a young lineup, but I think by the end of the year, we’ll get it. We’re playing to prepare for the tournament, and I’m happy to be 8-1 at this point.”
The teams combined for 24 fouls in the first half — 14 for Lutheran West (2-5), nine of which came in an ugly first quarter. The Longhorns also committed 18 turnovers in the first half, which allowed EC to jump out to a 17-7 first-quarter lead and a 33-21 halftime advantage.
“We’re too up and down,” said Lutheran West JV coach Trey Senney, who was filling in for head coach Josh Campbell. “That’s been our M.O. all year. We just haven’t found a way to manage the highs and lows. There were points tonight where we went on some nice runs and scored on five of five possessions, but then we’d go 15 or 20 possessions without scoring because we couldn’t handle the pressure or the turnovers.
“In any of our losses, our mistakes have been self-inflected. We played a really good team tonight, but that’s a team we should have been able to play with. When you put yourself in an emotional situation and you can’t handle it, it gets pretty tough pretty quick.”
Both teams shot an ugly 27 percent from the floor, although EC took a lot more shots than the Longhorns (67-41).
But both teams had a few bright performances. Lutheran West was led by sophomore guard Abby DeSimpelare, who led all scorers with 23 points on an 8-for-14 performance from the floor, including four 3-pointers. She was also 3-of-4 from the line.
“No. 3 (DeSimpelare) came out and lit it up pretty good for them,” Rothgery said. “She’s a nice ballplayer, but we didn’t identify her enough and she knocked down some shots.”
Senney liked what he saw from DeSimpelare.
“She had a really good game, and she’s been a good player for us,” Senney said. “She’s only a sophomore, so she plays a little young at times. But when she wants to, she’s able to do what she wants out there at times. She’s going to be an exciting player over the next couple of years.”
EC, with only one senior on the team and starting a junior, three sophomores and a freshman, was paced by 5-foot-8 sophomore Riley Schill and the 5-11 freshman Jessie Lee.
Schill overcame a 6-for-20 shooting performance to finish with a team-high 19 points. She went 6-for-8 from the free throw line.
“With Riley, my expectations are so darn high,” Rothgery said. “She’s an awesome kid. She’s smart. She’s a hard worker. I guess I didn’t feel like she had a great game, but she’s out there working hard and it paid off.”
Lee added 14 points and pulled down a personal-best 23 rebounds.
“Jessie is a phenomenal athlete,” Rothgery said. “She’s going to be a great player. She continues to improve and the way she’s improved this year, she should be able to put up some great numbers for us. She’s doing very well. Basketball’s not her primary thing, but she’s a quick learner and she loves to compete.”
Added Lee: “I didn’t realize I had that many rebounds. I just jump as high as I can to get the ball because sometimes I don’t realize how tall I am. If I remember to jump, I think I can get anything.”
GOOD DEED: Campbell wasn’t able to coach Monday’s game because he underwent surgery in the morning to have a kidney removed. He donated one of his kidneys to girls soccer coach Jeff Bancroft. Senney said both surgeries were successful, and Campbell should be able to return to the team soon.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Elyria Catholic 52, Lutheran West 36
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (52): Riley Schill 6-6-19, Jessie Lee 5-4-14, Becky Horvath 4-0-8, Julia Scarpelli 2-0-4, Margot Novak 0-1-1, Nora Hopkins 1-2-4, Meredith Ternes 1-0-2, Natalie Tremont 0-0-0, Adrianna Davies 0-0-0, Maddy Johnson 0-0-0, Sam Filiaggi 0-0-0. Totals 18-13-52.
LUTHERAN WEST (36): Abby DeSimpelare 8-3-23, Katelyn Thornton 0-2-2, Olivia Vasiloff 0-2-2, Maddie Jakabcic 0-0-0, Carey Smith 0-0-0, Johanna Ragland 1-2-4, Kassey Wilkens 1-1-3, Alex Mercado 1-0-2, Kimmy Evans 0-0-0, Allison Albers 0-0-0, Alexis Graves 0-0-0. Totals 11-10-36.
Elyria Catholic 17 16 11 8 — 52
Lutheran West 7 14 8 7 — 36
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic 1-11 (Schill), Lutheran West 4-8 (DeSimpelare 4); Field goals: Elyria Catholic 18-67 (27 percent), Lutheran West 11-41 (27 percent); Free throws: Elyria Catholic 13-23 (57 percent), Lutheran West 10-19 (53 percent); Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 55 (Lee 23, Scarpelli 5), Lutheran West 38 (Smith 6, Vasiloff 5, Wilkens 5); Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 15, Lutheran West 28; Total Fouls: Elyria Catholic 15, Lutheran West 17; Fouled Out: Jakabcic.
Junior varsity: Lutheran West, 43-27