ELYRIA — Unbeaten Elyria flirted with triple digits Tuesday night in a rout of Valley Forge.
The Pioneers used 14 players, and 11 scored in a 93-43 frolic between the Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division rivals. Junior Isaiah Walton led the parade with 21 points and senior Kody Bender scored 16 as Elyria improved to 5-0, 2-0 NOC.
Part of the winless Patriots’ problem was they were without five players, including two starters who didn’t make the trip.
“We’re short because of injuries, illness and ineligibility, so you can put the ‘three I’s’ together right there,” said Valley Forge coach John Ugan, whose Patriots fell to 0-5, 0-2.
It seems unlikely the presence of the ill, injured and idle would have made any difference.
The Pioneers’ foul shooting was sub-par — 1-for-6 in the first quarter and just 12-of-22 for the night — but they offset that liability with 48-percent field-goal shooting and a strong defensive showing that produced 20 Valley Forge turnovers, including 10 in the second quarter. Elyria won the quarter 31-5 for a 49-13 halftime lead.
“I thought in the second quarter we did a much better job of getting (defensive) stops,” Pioneers coach Brett Larrick said. “We had our traps going and we weren’t fouling out of the traps. We’ve been reaching a lot trying to get steals out of the traps. But tonight we were getting them off the passes, and that’s what we want out of our defense. Our best offense is out of our defense.”
Bender scored 14 points and Walton 12 in the first half, accounting for just over half the Pioneers’ points at the break. Walton nailed two of Elyria’s nine 3-pointers — one in each half — and put Pioneers fans on their feet with a slam dunk as the first quarter came to a close.
“That was just perfect timing right at the end of the first quarter,” Walton said. “It was a good hype play. It was good that I could finish it and get us excited about coming out for the next quarter. That was my second (dunk) of the year, but hopefully I’ve got a lot more to come.
“No matter what the score, you just have to keep playing hard. We were really just trying to keep up the intensity. We slacked off a little bit, but it was good we could come out with the win.”
Bender said the focus was on defense starting the second half.
“We just wanted to come out strong and play good defense,” he said. “Coach Larrick said we didn’t do as good a job on defense as we could in the first half and we had to pick that up the second half.
“We also talked about getting 100 points and we missed it by about 10 (actually seven) and that was because we were only 10-for-20 from the foul line.”
The Pioneers’ Hunter Parsh came off the bench to drain three of the team’s 3-pointers. Walton, Da’Jaun Glover and Ronnie Smith each hit a pair of threes, Smith’s in the first half.
“We have to keep learning how we want to play,” Larrick said. “We’ve been on the other side (of a lopsided score) several times in the last few years. It’s nice to be on this side, but it’s not a great feeling to be on either side. Give their guys credit. They only had seven varsity players and it’s a tough situation with sickness and that many injuries.”
Valley Forge senior David Drum finished with a team-high 16 points and junior Jacob Stadalsky scored 11.
Elyria 93, Valley Forge 43
VALLEY FORGE (43): Jason Torres 0-0-0, Douglas Trunk 0-2-2, Willie Whittaker 2-0-4, David Drum 7-1-16, Robert Schmidt 0-0-0, David Turner 2-0-5, Adam Hanych 1-2-5, Jacob Stadalsky 5-0-11. Totals 17-5-43.
ELYRIA (93): Tavon Kurtz 0-0-0, Kody Bender 6-4-16, Hunter Parsh 3-0-9, Da’Jaun Glover 2-0-6, Dontae Dukes 4-0-8, Isaiah Walton 9-1-21, Anthony Duckett 0-3-3, Jarred Schultz 4-0-8, Trenell Oliver 0-0-0, Ronnie Smith 2-0-6, A.J. Johnson 1-1-3, Rodger Jamison 4-1-9, Damon Stewart 0-0-0, K.J. Miller 1-2-4. Totals 36-12-93.
Valley Forge 8 5 16 14 — 43
Elyria 18 31 23 21 — 93
3-point goals: Valley Forge 4-6 (Drum, Turner, Stadalsky, Hanych); Elyria 9-22 (Parsh 3, Smith 2, Walton 2, Glover 2). Field goals: Valley Forge 17-50 (34 percent); Elyria 36-75 (48 percent). Free throws: Valley Forge 5-9; Elyria 12-22. Rebounds: Valley Forge 22; Elyria 41. Turnovers: Valley Forge 20; Elyria 9. Fouled out: None.
Junior varsity: Elyria, 71-27.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.