ELYRIA - Last March, as Elyria packed up following a season-ending 82-73 loss to Strongsville in the district final, Pioneers coach Bob Walsh muttered something about thinking his team would be sick and tired of losing to the Mustangs.
Maybe the message sunk in.
Friday, for the first time under Walsh`s guidance, the Pioneers defeated Strongsville, 70-62, and looked sharp doing it.
It was a far cry from last week`s disappointing opening loss to Twinsburg, giving Elyria its first victory of the year and its first against Strongsville since John Srnis` final team won, 47-45, in February 2005.
The Mustangs had won six straight since, including twice in the district final at Midview.
"Everybody was prepared and ready," said senior point guard and leading scorer Promis Cabbil. "Everybody really wanted this game. Like me, I`ve never beaten Strongsville in my life. I wanted this game more than anything."
"They played hard and they played smart," Walsh said of his team`s effort. "They used their speed and quickness to an advantage."
Cabbil took control of the offense, directing everyone where they needed to be and remaining on the floor and out of foul trouble. Cabbil finished with 22 points, including hitting eight free throws down the stretch to help ice the win.
"I thank our second string for that," Cabbil said. "We were prepared."
Cabbil had plenty of help, especially from junior Travis Noble, whose 3-pointer with 2:27 left to play was Elyria`s only one of the night against seven from the Mustangs. Both teams took 58 shots, but Elyria had six more field goals and two more free throws,
Noble scored 15 points and hauled in 12 rebounds - both career highs. In fact, Elyria`s rebounding was the key to the win. The Pioneers gathered 45 rebounds to Strongsville`s 36. Besides Noble, Rayshawn Camel had seven, while Cabbil, Seryrell Davis and Mykel Williams all picked off six.
"The job Travis and Seryrell did on the boards and the guards - Ray and Promis - we need everyone in there getting rebounds," Walsh said. "They seemed to be intense and focused, which we have trouble getting them to do at practice."
Davis added 17 points.
"Elyria played well," Strongsville coach Joe Lynch said. "It appeared they were hungrier than we were and my compliments to them on how they played the game. I thought we played hard for maybe 10, 11 minutes, then we dug into a deep hole the tail end of the third quarter and the fourth quarter. I told our kids, â€˜You`ve got to come out and play 32 minutes.` The game has to be played hard."
Elyria withstood a late Mustang rally that saw a 59-50 cushion whittled to 62-60 with 1:17 left.
"We didn`t panic," Walsh said. "We didn`t go overly fast. We just went down and got what we wanted and it paid off. Brett (Larrick, assistant coach) does a great job for us. He`s the yell guy for getting the message out on the floor."
Strongsville`s best weapons - returning seniors Tim Kamczyc and Matt Fegan - did the most damage withÂ 26 and 15 points, respectively, but the remainder of the lineup contributed just 21.
"We did have a little trouble with Kamczyc when they did get the ball into him," Walsh said. "Fegan is deadly, but we made some adjustments and as the game went on I thought we did better and better against them."
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
STRONGSVILLE (62): JoVon Anderson 0-4-4, Chris Svancara 3-0-8, Matt Fegan 5-2-15, Grant Vanco 1-0-2, Tim Kamczyc 7-11-26, Justin Bendzuck 1-0-3, John Grant 0-2-2, John Hamilton 0-0-0, Kris Hall 1-0-2, Luke Salmon 0-0-0. Totals 18-19-62.
ELYRIA (70): Promis Cabbil 7-8-22, Demetrius Dalton 2-4-8, Rayshawn Camel 2-4-8, Seryrell Davis 7-3-17, Travis Noble 6-2-15, Ricky Smallwood 0-0-0, Mykel Williams 0-0-0,Â Alex McKenna 0-0-0, Michael Higginbotham 0-0-0, Kare King 0-0-0, Totals 24-21-70.
Strongsville Â Â Â 16Â Â Â 11Â Â Â 12Â Â Â 23Â Â Â - Â Â Â 62
ElyriaÂ Â Â 15Â Â Â 14Â Â Â 19Â Â Â 22Â Â Â - Â Â Â 70
Three-point goals: Strongsville 7-20 (Fegan 3, Svancara 2, Kamczyc, Bendzuck). Elyria 1-8 (Noble). Field Goals: Strongsville 18-58 (31 percent). Elyria 24-58 (41 percent). Free Throws: Strongsville 19-26 (73 percent). Elyria 21-29 (72 percent). Rebounds: Strongsville 36 (Kamczyc 13), Elyria 45 (Noble 12). Turnovers: Strongsville 15, Elyria 16. Fouls: Strongsville 19, Elyria 20. Fouled Out: Svancara, Dalton, Noble. Technical Foul: Strongsville bench.
Junior Varsity: Strongsville 58-55.