LAGRANGE — It’s over.
Twenty-two games and 11 years worth of Lorain County Holiday Classic success for Elyria High’s girls went up in smoke Friday night at Keystone as the Wildcats came away with a 36-30 win over the Pioneers.
It was the season opener for both teams. Keystone faces Elyria Catholic, a 32-26 winner over Lorain in Friday’s first semifinal. Elyria will take on the Titans in tonight’s consolation game.
“Every year it’s a new tournament,” said Mike Walsh, Elyria’s coach through all 22 previous wins. “For us, it’s been very successful but Keystone had a better game than we did.”
There were several reasons Elyria lost but it really came down to one basic thing — the Pioneers could not put the ball in the basket.
“I think we hit a false pretense,” said Walsh. “We hit our first two or three jump shots so we decided we’re a good jump-shooting team. We’re not. That was pretty obvious.”
Mary Jones hit two shots from the wing, Nais Williams canned one from the foul line and Bergen Read knocked down a 3-pointer to put Elyria on top 9-4 about five minutes into the game, but the Pioneers came up empty on 12 field-goal attempts in the second quarter and fell behind for good, 18-14. Once Keystone spread the margin to 34-23 at the end of the third quarter, Walsh knew the writing was on the wall. Elyria made just 26 percent of its field-goal attempts.
“(Keystone) attacked us on defense,” said Walsh. “We backed away from it. They moved their 2-2-1 press up a little bit and kind of came after us but instead of attacking back, we backed away and the four-point lead went to 10 and that was it.
“We’re a little offensively challenged. We have to make free throws. We know we’re going to struggle to score points and that’s why we need to make free throws.”
Elyria made only six of its 16 foul shots. Keystone outrebounded the Pioneers 42-25. Even though the Wildcats turned the ball over 11 times in a dreadful fourth quarter, Elyria couldn’t make up the deficit.
“I don’t think any of the four teams that came out here are probably walking away thinking they played great basketball,” said Keystone coach Scott Terry. “It’s the first game. We certainly struggled at the end there taking care of the basketball. I think our guards can do a better job than what they did.
“Anytime you can come away with a win against Elyria, that’s certainly a positive. They’ve dominated this tournament for many years. We’ll have two different teams playing (tonight). We’ll see how that goes.”
It’s only the second time the event has been held away from Elyria High. Last year the tournament was played at Admiral King.
Emily Nagy led Keystone with 11 points and eight boards. Mackenzie Conrad added eight points and six rebounds. Six-foot-3 Danielle Wilmoth pulled in seven rebounds. Jones finished with seven Elyria points. Williams added six and had five rebounds and a couple of huge blocked shots, but it was all in vain.
“We’re a team that has to outwork and out-hustle the other team,” Walsh said. “I’m not going to say we didn’t bust it but I think (Keystone) did a little more. I have to give them credit.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
ELYRIA (30): Justine Cabill 1-1-3, Mary Jones 3-1-7, Bergen Read 2-0-5, Quae Brown 1-3-5, Nais Williams 2-2-6, Alexis Middlebrooks 2-0-4, Sanita Seymore 0-0-0, Raeshawn Stephens 0-0-0, Anastasia Barnwell 0-0-0, Kaleigh Plato 0-0-0, Alexis Roseboro 0-0-0. Totals 11-6-30.
KEYSTONE (36): Alisha Silva 2-0-5, Karli Sturgill 0-0-0, Emily Nagy 5-0-11, Danielle Wilmoth 1-1-3, Mackenzie Conrad 4-0-8, Mallory Nagy 2-2-7, Jamiee Senk 0-0-0, Emily Kolar 0-0-0, Molly Cornish 0-2-2. Totals 14-5-36.
Elyria 11 3 9 7 – 30
Keystone 10 8 16 2 – 36
Three-point goals: Elyria 2-14 (Cabill, Read). Keystone 3-6 (Silva, E. Nagy, M. Nagy). Field Goals: Elyria 11-43 (26 percent). Keystone 14-39 (36 percent). Free Throws: Elyria 6-16 (37.5 percent). Keystone 5-11 (45 percent). Rebounds: Elyria 25 (Middlebrooks 6). Keystone 42 (E. Nagy 8). Turnovers: Elyria 20, Keystone 28.