ELYRIA — A week and evening full of distractions worked out just fine in the end for the Elyria Pioneers and coach Brett Larrick.
“Strange week, strange game,” Larrick said Friday after the Pioneers overcame a sluggish start to blast Valley Forge 70-34 in Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division action.
“We had a lot of things going on. Fire alarm at the start of the JV game. We had our little Pioneers. We had alumni — Eric Bush came back to talk to us. It was a little out of our norm but no excuse for shooting 2-of-17 the first quarter.”
Bush played for the Pioneers in the mid-1980s under assistant coach Keith Sooy. The false alarm was the second this season at the gym. And Larrick invited his Saturday morning “Lil Pioneers,” made up of elementary students, to attend the game and be honored.
In addition to all that, Elyria had three days off school this week — one planned, the other two weather related — but the Pioneers managed to kick it in gear the second quarter and roll to its seventh consecutive win.
Elyria improved to 13-3, 6-1 in league play. The Patriots fell to 1-13, 0-7.
“We got off to a bad start,” said junior Marquise Dalton, who finished with a career-high 10 points off the bench. “We’ve been practicing good. I don’t know why we came out so bad. I’m glad everybody got to play.”
The Pioneers struggled out of the gate — missing their first seven field-goal attempts and hitting 3-of-5 free throws before senior Isaiah Walton hit a reverse layin for a 5-2 lead five minutes into the game.
Walton, the area’s leading scorer at 22.7 points per game, finished with 17 Friday and is just six points shy of joining seven other EHS players with 1,000 or more in his career. Walton should get that tonight when Elyria hosts Lakewood in a non-conference game.
Elyria got rolling in the second quarter — making 10-of-15 shots from the floor, including a half-court, buzzer-beating 3-pointer by freshman Bobby Russell.
“We went a little smaller than we normally do,” Larrick said. “Picked up the pressure, moved Isaiah off the ball and let Bobby Russell handle it so (Walton) could get some shots. It really came down to our defense creating the tempo for us.”
The wide margin enabled Larrick to rest his starters the fourth quarter in anticipation of a more competitive game tonight. Junior Hunter Parsh warmed up in the second half to finish with 11 points. Trenell Oliver and A.J. Johnson combined for 12 points and 11 rebounds. In all, 11 of the 14 players Larrick got in the game scored at least two points.
“Third quarter I thought we did a really nice job of passing the ball,” Larrick said. “Hunter came out a little hot (eight of his points in the third) and gave us some breathing room. The fourth quarter it was important for our guys to get some rest for (tonight).”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria 70, Valley Forge 34
VALLEY FORGE (34): Jacob Stadalsky 4-0-9, Grant Keserich 0-0-0, Bradley Brodek 2-0-4, Timothy Captain 4-0-8, Jake Blasko 0-0-0, Zachary Zevchik 2-0-5, Lee Trunk 1-1-4, Jacob Hujer 0-2-2, Kevin Yurik 0-0-0, Dom Poshedley 1-0-2. Totals 14-3-34.
ELYRIA (70): Hunter Parsh 4-0-11, Isaiah Walton 6-3-17, Anthony Duckett 0-2-2, Trenell Oliver 2-2-6, A.J. Johnson 2-2-6, Marquise Dalton 4-1-10, Chris Jamison 1-1-3, Bobby Russell 2-0-5, Chris Yates 1-0-2, Howie Smith 2-0-5, Antonio Blanton 0-0-0, Nate Marks 1-1-3, Kyle Ringer 0-0-0, Chris Atkinson 0-0-0. Totals 25-12-70.
Valley Forge 3 13 9 9 — 34
Elyria 7 29 17 17 — 70
Three-point goals: Valley Forge 3-13 (Stadalsky, Zevchik, Trunk), Elyria 8-21 (Parsh 3, Walton 2, Dalton, Russell, Smith). Field goals: Valley Forge 14-48 (29 percent), Elyria 25-54 (46 percent). Free throws: Valley Forge 3-4 (75 percent), Elyria 12-18 (66 percent). Rebounds: Valley Forge 28 (Brodek, Captain 4), Elyria 39 (Oliver 7). Turnovers: Valley Forge 17, Elyria 10. Fouls: Valley Forge 12, Elyria 10.
Junior varsity: Elyria, 55-40