ELYRIA — When you start slow, squander a lead and still come away with a win, you’ve got to feel pretty fortunate.
That certainly has to be the feeling in the Elyria basketball camp today after the Pioneers got past Berea, 83-77 in overtime Tuesday night to improve to 2-0. Berea fell to 0-2.
“It’s a different atmosphere playing at home,” Elyria coach Brett Larrick said noting the absence of the electric, tournament-like surroundings of Friday’s opener at Midview. “There were a lot of distractions. We have to find a way to be a little tougher mentally at the start of the game.”
“Coach talked about it,” said 6-foot senior Kody Bender, who struggled with a 7-of-22 night from the field yet found a way to score 21 points by making seven of 10 free throws, including his last five. “He kept saying we weren’t ready to play. I don’t think we were ready to play either. It wasn’t a big crowd. There wasn’t much hype to the game. We came out a little sluggish. Thankfully, we picked it up.”
Berea eased out to a 23-9 lead off an 11-0 run before a pair of free throws each by Dontae Dukes and Tavon Kurtz drew the Pioneers within 23-15 at the end of the first.
“Bad thing was the 23 points they scored the first quarter,” Larrick said. “The good thing was they had six the second quarter minus the three (at the buzzer). We’re not going to be that good all the time where we can turn it on and off.”
“Isaiah (Walton) did a great job bringing us back,” Bender said of the 6-3 junior who tossed in a career-high 27 points, including 11 in the third quarter. “He made some shots over people and made some tough shots to bring us back. That really helped. Thank God we pulled it out in overtime.”
Walton’s hot streak put Elyria in the driver’s seat in the third quarter as the Pioneers opened a 36-29 lead before a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jamie Bloxson gave the Braves some momentum.
Elyria still had a 65-58 lead with 3:19 to play before the Braves stormed back to take the lead. Bender’s driving layup tied the game at 68 but he missed a possible game-winner at the buzzer that sent the game to an extra session.
“We came out slow,” said Walton, who also came up with nine boards. “We caught a good run and came back. They missed some free throws and we made ours with the clock not running.”
That may have been the ultimate difference as Elyria outscored and outshot Berea from the line. The Pioneers got to the line 37 times and scored 26 points. Berea was 12-of-23 and lost its best ballhandler (Alex Brown) and leading scorer (Alex Horner) in the fourth quarter and overtime period, respectively.
“We had our chances,” Berea coach Darren Collins said. “If we make our free throws, and we had a bunch of missed layups — couple of them breakaways — it makes a difference.”
Bender opened the overtime with four consecutive free throws and although Berea tied the game at 72, Walton scored on a drive in the lane and Kurtz scored on a huge putback to give Elyria a 76-72 lead with 1:30 left. After a Bloxson field goal, Bender scored on a tough layup and added a pair of free throws to put the Pioneers in front 80-74 to pretty much sew it up.
Elyria also 10 points and 10 rebounds from Dukes, while A.J. Johnson added 12 points). Defensively, Ronnie Smith led the way as the Pioneers forced Berea into 15 turnovers.
Horner led Berea with 22 points, including 11 in the big first quarter. Derrick Hall had 19 points and nine rebounds while Brown had 18 points and nine boards.
“We got a sloppy win,” Walton said, “but most importantly, it was a win.”
Elyria 83, Berea 77
BEREA (77): Devin Posey 0-0-0, Askia Wingfield 2-0-4, Alex Brown 7-4-18, Alex Hoover 7-4-22, Derrick Hall 6-6-19, Anthony Dobbertin 2-0-6, Jake Holecko 0-0-0, Doktavius Coker 0-0-0, Marlon Robertson 0-0-0, Jamie Bloxson 3-0-8. Totals 29-12-77.
ELYRIA (83): Kody Bender 7-7-21, Dontae Dukes 2-6-10, Isaiah Walton 10-5-27, Ronnie Smith 2-3-8, A.J. Johnson 5-2-12, Tavon Kurtz 1-2-4, Da’Jaun Glover 0-1-1, Jarred Schultz 0-0-0, Damon Stewart 0-0-0, Hunter Parsh 0-0-0, Anthony Duckett 0-0-0. Totals 27-26-83.
Berea 23 9 20 16 9 — 77
Elyria 15 21 22 10 15 — 83
Three-point goals: Berea 7-17 (Horner 2, Dobbertin 2, Bloxton 2, Hall), Elyria 3-15 (Walton 2, Smith). Field goals: Berea 29-73 (40 percent), Elyria 27-52 (52 percent). Free throws: Berea 12-23 (52 percent), Elyria 26-37 (70 percent). Rebounds: Berea 45 (Hall 9), Elyria 40 (Dukes 10). Turnovers: Berea 15, Elyria 11. Fouls: Berea 25, Elyria 17. Fouled Out: Brown, Horner, Johnson.
Junior Varsity: Elyria 61-32.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at (440) 329-7135 or at email@example.com.