ELYRIA — Two months and 21 points must seem like a lifetime ago for Elyria.
The Pioneers were eliminated from the postseason by Avon Lake 55-46 in overtime Wednesday night. Elyria beat the Shoremen 79-58 at the Holiday Classic in December.
But the Shoremen (10-13) have been the hotter commodity lately, and won their seventh straight to earn a trip to Olmsted Falls for the Division I sectional final Saturday. Avon Lake split with the Bulldogs during the season.
Elyria finished the year 14-9 and with losses in six of its final seven.
“As a coach, the thing that’s gratifying is when you can put in a game plan and the kids buy into it,” Avon Lake coach Eric Smith said. “And then go out and execute it on both ends of the floor. I mean, almost flawlessly.”
The Shoremen were patient on offense and pesky enough on defense. Avon Lake booked four starters in double figures to just Isaiah Walton for Elyria. Christian Jones led with 12 points, while Jason Hessel, Luke Harris and Seth Muck all scored 10 and Brad Hamilton and Matt Molina did a great job controlling the paint.
“We should have won it in regulation,” Elyria coach Brett Larrick said. “Our kids fought but we gave up things we talked about — back-door layups, right-hand drives.”
Elyria had the last shot in regulation, but the play was well-defended and Walton’s off-balance shot missed the mark.
In overtime, Avon Lake made all 10 of its free throws to just one for Elyria to win going away.
“I just tell me in my head to make it,” said Muck, who was perfect on six free throws, including two that tied the game in regulation with 10.7 seconds left. “It felt good.”
“Give them credit,” Larrick said. “Fifteen-of-17 from the line. We were 4-of-8. We didn’t get there enough. They made all their free throws. Little things beat you.”
Jones buried a huge 3-pointer as the clock expired ending the third quarter to put Avon Lake on top 35-34.
“We had control most of the game,” he said. “We played how we wanted to play. We didn’t let them run the ball up and down the court.”
Walton scored 21 points before fouling out with 1:06 remaining in overtime and the Shoremen up just 47-46. Hessel hit those free throws, Muck added a pair and Hamilton closed out the scoring with four straight. When Walton exited, so did Elyria’s chances.
“They have a lot of skill players,” said Walton, who finished his outstanding career as the fourth all-time scorer in EHS history with 1,139 points. “We had our ups and downs. (Wednesday) they just got the best of us.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon Lake 55, Elyria 46
AVON LAKE (55): Jason Hessel 4-2-10, Luke Harris 3-2-10, Christian Jones 5-0-12, Seth Muck 2-6-10, Brad Hamilton 0-5-5, Jace Russell 2-0-6, Matt Molina 1-0-2. Totals 17-15-55.
ELYRIA (46): Hunter Parsh 3-0-9, Isaiah Walton 8-2-21, Anthony Duckett 2-0-4, Trenell Oliver 0-2-2, AJ Johnson 3-0-6, Marquise Dalton 0-0-0, Chris Jamison 0-0-0, Bobby Russell 0-0-0, Antonio Blanton 2-0-4, Josh Lotko 0-0-0. Totals 18-4-46.
Avon Lake 13 8 14 10 10 — 55
Elyria 12 12 10 11 1 — 46
Three-point goals: Avon Lake 6-12 (Harris 2, Jones 2, Russell 2), Elyria 6-22 (Parsh 3, Walton 3). Field goals: Avon Lake 17-37 (46 percent), Elyria 18-48 (37.5 percent). Free throws: Avon Lake 15-17 (88 percent), Elyria 4-8 (50 percent). Rebounds: Avon Lake 25 (Hamilton 4), Elyria 28 (Johnson 7). Turnovers: Avon Lake 13, Elyria 12. Fouls: Avon Lake 12, Elyria 16. Fouled Out: Walton.