ELYRIA — Elyria Catholic got the West Shore Conference season started on the right foot Friday with a 74-54 win over Vermilion.
It was the first win of the season for the Panthers and the first loss for the Sailors.
Oh, and it was also memorable for another reason: EC coach Jason Smith’s first win.
“It feels so good, like a 100-pound monkey coming off my back right now,” Smith said. “It will be an easy night’s sleep for the first time in a few weeks.”
Vermilion (2-1, 0-1 WSC) led 6-2 when the Panthers responded with a barrage of 3-pointers to close out the first quarter on a 20-9 run. The Panthers unleashed three-straight 3-pointers from Tyler Riddell, Daniel Whitacre and D.J. Graham in the final two minutes.
Riddell, who scored a team-high 18 points, finished with four 3-pointers and the Panthers shot 9-of-17 from long range as a team.
Elyria Catholic (1-2, 1-0) extended its run to 29-11 midway through the second, while holding the Sailors to nine second-quarter points.
“We wanted to come out with a defensive mentality,” Whitacre said. “The intensity is definitely what we needed. We wanted to make sure we had someone on (Cameron) Kuhn and (Anthony) Rini the whole time. We wanted to make sure Rini wasn’t chucking up too many threes or (getting) good looks.”
However, at the start of the third quarter it looked as if Vermilion was going to take control. Forrest Boyd scored the first four points of an 8-0 run to slash the Panthers’ lead to 10. Boyd finished with a game-high 19 points.
But the Panthers responded with a 6-0 run of their own and Vermilion never got within 10 the rest of the game.
“I think we were too amped up to play,” Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl said. “We let our excitement get the best of us. When you let the emotions get the best of you bad things happen and I take full responsibility for that. I stressed that it was a big game all week and, if possible, we got the kids too excited.”
Whitacre added 13 points for EC, while John Stursa added 10. Xavier Bennett led the Panthers with six rebounds.
After averaging 25 points per game through two games, Kuhn was held to 15 on 4-of-10 shooting. He led the Sailors with seven rebounds.
“They have one of the best players in the county in Kuhn and one of the best shooters in Rini,” Smith said. “If they were going to beat us, we weren’t going to let them do it.
“We pressured in the half court and kept the ball out of Kuhn’s hands as much as possible.”
Rini scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria Catholic 74, Vermilion 54
VERMILION (54): Anthony Rini 1-0-2, Forrest Boyd 9-1-19, Kyle Nader 2-0-4, Cameron Kuhn 5-5-15, Seth Konrad 1-0-2, Ryan Miller 2-0-4, Austin Kazmer 1-0-2, Aaron Dawson 1-0-2, Zach Myracle 2-0-4, John Austin 0-0-0, Ross Lewis 0-0-0, Alex Nunn 0-0-0. Totals 24-6-54.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (74): Conner Riddell 1-0-3, Tyler Riddell 7-0-18, John Stursa 2-6-10, Cory Strasko 3-0-6, Daniel Whitacre 6-0-13, D.J. Graham 2-0-5, Angelo Cruz 1-0-3, Xavier Bennett 4-0-8, Ceeven Shelton 0-5-5, Zach Konno 1-0-3. Totals 27-11-74.
Vermilion 11 9 16 18 — 54
Elyria Catholic 22 14 16 22 — 74
3-point goals: Vermilion 0, Elyria Catholic 9 (T. Riddell 4, C. Riddell 1, Whitacre, Graham, Cruz, Konno); Field goals: Vermilion 24-47 (51 percent), Elyria Catholic 25-52 (48 percent); Free throws: Vermilion 6-12 (50 percent), Elyria Catholic 11-16 (69 percent); Rebounds: Vermilion 22, Elyria Catholic 22; Turnovers: Vermilion 15, Elyria Catholic 10. Total fouls: Vermilion 19, Elyria Catholic 15.
Junior varsity: Elyria Catholic, 48-36.