EATON TWP. — Elyria assistant coach Adam Larrick offered his opinion as he entered the locker room at halftime.
“That’s the best four minutes we’ve played all year,” he said.
The Pioneers opened with the first 16 points of the game Saturday on the way to eliminating North Ridgeville
79-48 in the Midview Division I sectional finals. Elyria (18-5) advanced to meet Westlake in the district semifinal Thursday at 7:30 p.m., hoping to defend its district title.
Elyria’s swarming defense pressed and trapped the Rangers into 10 first-quarter turnovers in turning the game into an early rout. Three baskets by Anthony Duckett — two off sweet no-look passes from Isaiah Walton — got the Pioneers off and running, forcing a pair of timeouts by North Ridgeville coach Bryan Morgan with only 3:12 gone.
Walton led Elyria with 20 points. Duckett finished with 10.
“How can you mimic that speed?” Morgan asked. “We tried this week, but if we could mimic that speed in practice, we wouldn’t have been a 3-19 (regular-season) team. It was tough. I wasn’t sure we were going to score there in the first quarter.”
North Ridgeville (4-20) didn’t score its first points until Nate Inal pulled up for a jump shot in the lane with 3:43 to play in the first quarter. At one point, Elyria led 20-2.
“We just preach in the locker room we want to get out to a good start,” said Brett Larrick, Elyria’s head coach and Adam’s older brother. “We want to come out with our confidence and try to take other teams’ confidence away. The last three, four games and again Tuesday night (against Strongsville), North Ridgeville’s been playing really well. Their record does not indicate how well they’ve been playing.
“We talked about it. We can’t let their shooters get going.”
The Rangers didn’t even get off a shot over their first half-dozen possessions and once they did, the first couple were swatted away.
Senior Kody Bender, a North Ridgeville resident who open-enrolled at Elyria for his freshman year, was especially ready to play. Elyria’s third all-time scorer posted 19 against his old teammates from junior high. Bender has 1,239 points.
“It meant a lot playing against them,” he said. “I was excited. I wanted them to win their first game (vs. Strongsville) so I’d get to play them one last time. I tried to keep my head and not let the game get in my head too much and get too excited. We wanted to come out and pressure them right away and get right up in them. We did a great job of that.”
All that said, the Rangers did make one run at Elyria late in the first half when they whittled the deficit to 33-24 with a 13-6 run fueled by a pair of 3-pointers by Inal and another from Dennis Millgard. They finished with 15 points each.
“Bryan’s done such a great job getting those kids to play hard,” Larrick said. “We told our guys they would make runs. Their shooters are going to make some shots and they made us pay when we didn’t get a hand up. The threes cut the lead down fast but when it got to nine, we never let it get to seven. We got it back up to 19 by halftime.”
Elyria finished the first half on a 10-0 run for a 43-24 halftime lead.
Walton and Bender led the scoring, but they also shared the ball with their teammates. Walton had eight assists, Bender five.
“We had 11 guys in by the second quarter,” Larrick said. “We have a rotation. Guys know their roles now. I thought we shared the ball and passed the ball extremely well. Isaiah and Kody threw it back to each other when they were open. That’s what we have to have.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7136 or email@example.com.
Elyria 79, North Ridgeville 48
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (48): Nate Inal 6-0-15, Matt Clark 0-0-0, Dennis Millgard 6-1-15, Jordan Montgomery 2-1-5, Nolan Freeman 3-0-6, Demario McCall 1-0-2, Nathan Colbert 1-0-2, Tyler Rowe 0-0-0, Larry Draft 0-1-1, Mason Demyan 1-0-2. Totals 20-3-48.
ELYRIA (79): Kody Bender 6-4-18, Dontae Dukes 1-0-2, Isaiah Walton 7-6-20, Anthony Duckett 4-2-10 A.J. Johnson 4-0-8, Du’Jaun Glover 1-0-3, Jarred Schultz 2-1-7, Ronnie Smith 2-0-5, Damon Stewart 0-0-0, Tavon Kurtz 1-0-2, Hunter Parsh 0-0-0, Rodger Jamison 1-0-2, Trenell Oliver 1-0-2, Blake Furcron 0-0-0. Totals 30-13-79.
North Ridgeville 11 13 11 13 — 48
Elyria 24 19 21 15 — 79
Three-point goals: North Ridgeville 5-11 (Inal 3, Millgard 2), Elyria 6-9 (Bender 2, Schultz 2, Glover, Smith). Field goals: North Ridgeville 20-41 (49 percent), Elyria 30-56 (54 percent). Free throws: North Ridgeville 3-8 (38 percent), Elyria 13-14 (93 percent). Rebounds: North Ridgeville 17 (Inal 4), Elyria 26 (Walton 7). Turnovers: North Ridgeville 19, Elyria 9. Fouls: North Ridgeville 14, Elyria 14. Technical Foul: Freeman.