ELYRIA — At halftime, upset was written all over Elyria’s non-conference game with Keystone at the Pioneer gym.
Everything seemed to be going the Wildcats’ way until the whistle sounded to start play in the second half. Zero for six from the field and five turnovers later, Elyria had erased an eight-point deficit to take a five-point lead on its way to a 64-49 win. The Pioneers are 4-1 on the young season; Keystone 4-3.
“And I thought we probably should have been up even more,” said Keystone coach Jeff Holzhauer of the 32-24 halftime lead. “We had a lot of opportunities where we beat their pressure and we fumbled the ball or we made a tough pass along the baseline that was behind our guy.
“One time CJ (Conrad) stepped on the baseline — little things like that. Austin (CJ’s younger brother) is usually good around the rim and he missed a couple early shots that he normally makes.”
Holzhauer was right. Keystone built the advantage in spite of the Conrads combining to shoot just 3-of-12 over the first two quarters and Matt Bastock picking up two quick fouls early on. Collin Fitzgerald hit a trio of 3-pointers off the bench to compensate.
One player Keystone couldn’t contain was senior Isaiah Walton. Walton scored Elyria’s first 10 points and wound up with 30, including a breath-taking lob-dunk off a Ronnie Smith pass that put the Pioneers up 43-34 at the end of the third quarter to complete a 19-2 turnaround in the quarter. Elyria outscored Keystone, 40-17, in the second half.
“Coach (Brett Larrick) told us at halftime, this is what happens when you’re not ready to play,” said Walton. “We didn’t come out with the intensity and passion that we had in the second half. We just all got together and regrouped and played the right way the second half.”
“We made some adjustments,” said Larrick. “Obviously, the first half we didn’t play well offensively or defensively. I’m guessing it was the lowest scoring quarter (11 second-quarter points) and lowest scoring half (24) of the year.”
Elyria turned up the intensity in the second half and Keystone started rushing things on its end, allowing the Pioneers to get the rebound and race the other way. Keystone managed to make only one basket the entire third quarter in 12 attempts and had a half-dozen turnovers.
Jarred Schultz collared six rebounds in the quarter and finished with 14 in leading Elyria in that department. Walton secured nine boards as the Pioneers won the glass, 43-30.
For Keystone, Fitzgerald finished with 14 points but had only one more 3-pointer in the second half. Sophomore Austin Conrad (13 points, seven rebounds) and senior CJ Conrad (seven points, 10 rebounds) kept things interesting. KJ Williams chipped in nine points but none after intermission.
“You saw what happened the second half,” said Holzhauer. “Against a good team like that, it needs to go really well. We need a little more to go right the first half.”
“Give Jeff credit,” said Larrick. “His guys came ready to play. They did a really good job the first half of spreading us out. They were trapping us at half court — the same thing we do. We challenged our guys at halftime. We made the extra passes the third quarter and we defended harder. We played together on defense. They missed quick shots and we get to run. That’s our best offense.”
Elyria 64, Keystone 49
KEYSTONE (49): CJ Conrad 3-1-7, Austin Conrad 5-3-13, KJ Williams 4-1-9, Matt Bastock 1-0-2, Brandon Kuhl 1-0-2, Jacob Miller 1-0-2, Collin Fitzgerald 5-0-14, Jake Bowers 0-0-0. Totals 20-5-49.
ELYRIA (64): Hunter Parsh 2-1-7, Isaiah Walton 8-13-30, Anthony Duckett 1-0-3, Jarred Schultz 5-1-11, AJ Johnson 4-0-8, Trenell Oliver 0-0-0, Ronnie Smith 2-1-5, Marquise Dalton 0-0-0, Howie Smith 0-0-0. Totals 22-16-64.
Keystone 11 21 2 15 — 49
Elyria 13 11 19 21 — 64
Three-point goals: Keystone 4-12 (Fitzgerald 4), Elyria 4-14 (Parsh 2, Walton, Duckett). Field goals: Keystone 20-54 (37 percent), Elyria 22-51 (43 percent). Free throws: Keystone 5-9 (55 percent), Elyria 16-24 (66 percent). Rebounds: Keystone 30 (CJ Conrad 10), Elyria 43 (Schultz 14). Turnovers: Keystone 18, Elyria 16. Fouls: Keystone 22, Elyria 16. Fouled out: A.Conrad.