ELYRIA — After many years of coaching the Elyria girls basketball team, Mike Walsh pulls no punches during a postgame interview.
“I only have one thing to say,” Walsh said. “If we make our free throws, we win this game easily. We didn’t and they did, and that was the difference. I mean we missed like nine in a row at one point, and that can’t happen. There’s nothing else to say — that’s that … ballgame.”
Elyria (3-1, 0-1 Northeast Ohio Conference) went toe-to-toe with Mayfield (2-2, 1-0) for four quarters and outplayed the Wildcats in the second half of Saturday night’s NOC opener, but came up on the short end of a 55-51 decision.
The Pioneers did indeed struggle from the line, going just 2-for-11 during a critical span of the third and fourth periods. At the time, Elyria held a 42-40 lead over Mayfield, thanks in part to a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore guard Sybil Roseboro.
With the Pioneers taking a trip to the line with each and every whistle in the final five minutes of play, their cold shooting from the free throw line kept Mayfield in the game.
“We kept our composure and didn’t get rattled when calls weren’t going our way and they were making a run at us,” Mayfield coach Tony Ware said. “Our standard players did their thing tonight as they always do, but we got some things from our bench tonight that helped. That was great.”
The game was tight throughout, as six points was the largest lead by either team in the first half. With a 14-6 spurt late in the second quarter, Mayfield held a 25-19 lead at the break.
Elyria came out strong in the second half, outscoring the Wildcats 7-2 in a three-minute span to close the gap. Three straight baskets in the paint from junior Alexis Middlebrooks and a free throw from Sybil Roseboro drew the Pioneers back to within 27-26 with 4:47 to go in the third.
Mayfield regrouped. Following a putback and foul shot from junior Morgan Widina, who came off the bench when starting post Sydney Shanaberger picked up her fourth foul, the Wildcats led 38-30.
A basket by senior Alexis Roseboro, a free throw from senior Mary Jones and two Sybil Roseboro 3-pointers gave Elyria a 42-40 lead early in the fourth quarter.
But the game turned into a free throw shooting contest the rest of the way, and the Wildcats performed better than the Pioneers — hitting nine of 10 in the final three minutes, including six straight in the last 46 seconds.
Junior Halle Rubino drilled four free throws in the end.
“Halle played almost a flawless second half for us, and then she came up big down the stretch from the line,” Ware said. “Going four-for-four in that situation was really big.
“Getting a win on the road against a very good Elyria team is great, and to win a game like this where we had to face the pressure is even better. It makes our stop at McDonald’s on the way home that much more enjoyable tonight.”
Contact John McDermott at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Mayfield 55, Elyria 51
MAYFIELD (55): Halle Rubino 4-6-14, Shannon Zajec 6-0-13, Madison Snider 4-1-9, Morgan Widina 2-2-6, DaJoanna Williams 1-3-5, Sydney Shanaberger 2-0-4, Gina Novario 0-2-2, Kylie Tritt 1-0-2. Totals 20-14-55.
ELYRIA (51): Mary Jones 4-5-15, Alexis Middlebrooks 7-0-14, Sybil Roseboro 4-1-12, Alexis Roseboro 2-2-6, Jocelyn Spraggins 1-0-2, Mariah Johnson 0-2-2. Totals 18-10-51.
Mayfield 9 16 13 17 — 55
Elyria 9 10 14 18 — 51
Three-point goals: Elyria 5-of-13 (Sybil Roseboro 3, Mary Jones 2); Mayfield 1-of-8 (Zajec). Field goals: Elyria 18-of-38 (47 percent); Mayfield 20-of-63 (32 percent). Free throws: Elyria 10-of-21 (48 percent); Mayfield 14-of-19 (74 percent). Rebounds: Elyria 38; Mayfield 36. Turnovers: Elyria 22; Mayfield 16. Fouled out: Shanaberger.
Junior varsity: Elyria, 34-24.