BARBERTON — Maybe experience is overrated.
Elyria Catholic (21-4) had two freshmen in double figures Tuesday, including point guard Riley Schill who had a team-high 17 points, as the Panthers pulled away in the second half for a 63-53 Division III district semifinal win over Rootstown.
The Rovers (11-14) played the top-seeded Panthers even for the first 16 minutes, going into the locker room tied at 24, but Elyria Catholic used a 13-5 third quarter to take control of the game.
The run started when senior Brittney McNamara hit a 3-pointer with 5:07 to play in the third quarter. For McNamara, who was double-teamed most of the night, it was her first points. She finished with six points but tied the Lorain County record with her 56th 3-point field goal in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers will look for their third district title in four years Friday night at 7:30 against Mogadore. The Wildcats defeated Waterloo 56-52 in the other semifinal.
A pair of forwards, senior Karissa McGrath and freshman Becky Horvath, were called upon to score on the inside against Rootstown star center Casey Miracle and came up big. McGrath scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Horvath had 13 points, eight in the second half.
“They played that triangle-and-two defense and it gave us fits early on,” Elyria Catholic coach Eric Rothgery said. “We changed a few things at halftime and it opened things up.”
In the first half Elyria Catholic was just 9-of-42 shooting. In the second half, it shot 61 percent (17-of-28)
When the Panthers got their transition game in gear in the second half, it was Schill’s turn to shine. The freshman took advantage of the open lanes to drive to the basket against a slower Rootstown team.
“I was nervous tonight knowing it was such a big game,” Schill said. “We were determined to win this game so we really stepped it up in the second half. We are really excited for the district finals. I am just happy to know I can contribute and help my teammates get there.”
Miracle led all scorers with 24 points. The 5-foot-7 junior also had a game-high 13 rebounds.
Rothgery has already devised a game plan for Friday’s championship game.
“We are going to have to get out on their shooters,” he said. “I have seen Mogadore a few times now and no one on that team is afraid to shoot. We will have to be on top of everybody.”
EC 63, Rootstown 53
ROOTSTOWN(53): Jaylnn Myers 4-4-12, Tori Goodpaster 1-0-2, Madison Hartung 3-0-8, Brandi Barkhurst 1-1-3, Cayanne Breznak 1-2-4, Casey Miracle 9-6-24. Totals 19-13-53.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (63): Josie Carandang 1-2-4, Brittney McNamara 2-0-6, Riley Schill 7-3-17, Shannon Hopkins 2-1-5, Karissa McGrath 7-2-16, Becky Horvath 6-1-13, Erin Herschelman 1-0-2. Totals 26-9-63.
Rootstown 7 17 11 18 — 53
Elyria Catholic 8 16 17 22 — 63
Three-point goals: Rootstown (Hartung 2), Elyria Catholic (McNamara 2); Field goals: Rootstown 19-49 (39 percent), Elyria Catholic 26-70 (37 percent); Free throws: Rootstown 13-17 (76 percent), Elyria Catholic 9-13 (69 percent); Rebounds: Rootstown 33, Elyria Catholic 38; Turnovers: Rootstown 19, Elyria Catholic 11; Total fouls: Rootstown 16, Elyria Catholic 17.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.