VERMILION — If Vermilion’s Cameron Kuhn, the leading scorer in Lorain County, is Superman, Elyria Catholic sophomore Ceeven Shelton is his Kryptonite.
Shelton hounded Kuhn all evening, holding the 6-foot junior, who came into the game averaging 22 points, to just nine on 2-for-16 shooting as the Panthers prevailed 58-47 in West Shore Conference action.
“He was amazing,” Elyria Catholic coach Jason Smith said of Shelton. “He was amazing the first time we played them, and he did an even better job this time. He held him to nine points, and to do that against the leading scorer in Lorain County … that says a lot about Ceeven and his defense. It was a phenomenal job.”
Shelton, who held Kuhn to 15 points when the teams hooked up in early December, said defense was his only concern.
“I didn’t worry about scoring, I just worried about Cameron Kuhn,” he said. “He worked for his points last game, and this game was big for us because it was a road conference game. Coach told me to face-guard him and deny him the ball. So that’s what I did.”
While Shelton was controlling Kuhn, Panthers forwards Xavier Bennett and John Stursa were controlling the boards. Bennett finished with a game-high 13 rebounds off the bench while Stursa added 10 to go with 13 points.
Vermilion (8-6, 2-6 WSC) led 16-12 after a quarter and, when Kyle Nader drilled a 3-pointer to open the second, had its largest lead of the game at 19-12.
But the Panthers (6-7, 4-4), behind Danny Whitacre, chipped away at the lead. Whitacre, a 6-5 senior, scored seven points in an 18-8 run that closed the half and gave Elyria Catholic a 30-27 lead at halftime.
The Sailors outscored the Panthers 11-8 in the third quarter and the teams entered the fourth tied at 38.
That’s when Stursa and senior point guard Cory Strasko took over for the Panthers. The pair combined to score the game’s next seven points and give Elyria Catholic a 45-38 lead with 4:52 remaining.
Vermillion cut the lead to 50-46 with 1:45 left, but got no closer.
“John is the most underrated player in Lorain County,” Smith said of Stursa. “He plays phenomenal basketball every single night. He goes unnoticed even though he scores double-digits every game and gets eight, 10, 12 rebounds. For some reason he goes overlooked.
“He brings it every night and it’s great to see him enjoying such a great senior season.”
Vermilion could not shoot its way back into the game. In fact, the Sailors had trouble shooting the ball, period, hitting just 18-of-58 from the floor (31 percent) and a paltry 2-of-17 (11 percent) from 3-point range.
“We couldn’t make a shot to save our lives,” Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl said. “We could never get into any kind of a flow offensively or defensively. You have to give EC a lot of credit, they stopped the ball defensively and moved the ball well offensively.”
Kyle Nader led the Sailors with 14 points while Forrest Boyd added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are starting to roll.
“We’ve won three in a row and it feels really good,” Stursa said. “I gave it my all and my teammates did, too. We have a thing with Vermilion. … I know a few guys over there and there was a lot of trash talking out there. So this was a satisfying win for us.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria Catholic 58, Vermilion 47
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (58): Cory Strasko 3-7-14, Tyler Riddell 3-2-8, John Stursa 5-3-13, Xavier Bennett 3-0-6, Danny Whitacre 6-1-14, Ceevan Shelton 0-2-2, D.J. Graham 0-1-1, Connor Riddell 0-0-0. Totals 20-16-58.
VERMILION (47): Anthony Rini 3-2-8, Forrest Boyd 6-0-13, Cameron Kuhn 2-5-9, Kyle Nader 6-1-14, John Austin 0-0-0, Ryan Miller 1-0-2, Seth Konrad 0-1-1. Totals 18-9-47.
Elyria Catholic 12 18 8 20 — 58
Vermilion 16 11 11 9 — 47
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic 2-7 (Strasko, Whitacre), Vermilion 2-17 (Boyd, Nader). Field goals: Elyria Catholic 20-44 (45.4 percent), Vermilion 18-58 (31 percent); Free throws: Elyria Catholic 16-23 (69.5 percent), Vermilion 9-13 (69.2 percent); Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 34 (Bennett 13, Stursa 10), Vermilion 36 (Boyd 11). Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 10, Vermilion 11; Total fouls: Elyria Catholic 14, Vermilion 19.