BARBERTON — It was too little, too late for Elyria Catholic on Friday night.
After shooting just 4 percent from the field in the first half, the top-seeded Panthers staged a frantic second-half rally but fell to Mogadore 50-39 in a Division III district final.
Elyria Catholic (21-5) took a 3-2 lead when senior Brittney McNamara hit a 3-pointer with 5:08 to play in the first quarter. It was EC’s only field goal of the first half.
The No. 6 seed Wildcats (13-13) promptly went on an 18-2 run to pull out to a 20-5 lead and take control of the game.
“The team was loose before the game and I felt like we were ready to go, but we just started missing shots that we normally make,” Elyria Catholic coach Eric Rothgery said. “It’s painful to sit there on the bench and look at players that have made shots all season struggle to put the ball in the basket.”
Mogadore won its first Division III district title behind a game-high 21 points from junior Ashley Barker. In fact, Barker, who missed the first nine games of the season recovering from a knee injury suffered during summer softball, was the key to the Wildcats’ stunning turnaround this season. The team started 0-9 in her absence but has won 13 of its last 17 games since she returned.
“I am so thankful that I was able to come back and play this season,” Barker said. “I was so excited at the end of game that we were able to put it together as a team. We knew the pressure was on them because they were the No. 1 seed. We were No. 6 so we had nothing to lose, we just came out and had fun.”
After Elyria Catholic went 14:09 without a field goal, freshman Josie Carandang finally connected on a 3-pointer with 6:59 to play in the third quarter. That sparked an 8-2 run which enabled the Panthers to cut the lead to eight. Carandang was in the zone in the second half, connecting on four 3-pointers on her way to a team-high 14 points.
“Josie couldn’t hit anything in the first half but she’s tough enough to just come out shooting in the second half and make some big shots. She’s going to be a great player,” Rothgery said.
The Panthers cut the lead to 36-33 midway through the fourth quarter after a pair of Shannon Hopkins free throws, but that was as close as they got.
“We started coming together as a team late in the season,” first-year Mogadore coach Tom Pollack said. “I thought we’d do well in the tournament but I really didn’t think we would win district. Everything fell in place for us over the last two weeks.
“Elyria Catholic is a good team and they battled back in the second half. I told their coach after the game if there was another two minutes on the clock the result might have been different.”
Although senior Karissa McGrath only scored three points in her final game in a Panthers uniform, she had a big game on the defensive end with 15 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Mogadore 50, Elyria Catholic 39
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (39): Josie Carandang 4-2-14, Brittney McNamara 3-0-9, Riley Schill 1-2-5, Shannon Hopkins 0-6-6, Karissa McGrath 1-1-3, Becky Horvath 1-0-2. Totals 10-11-39.
MOGADORE (50): Brianne Porter 2-2-6, Jordan Jeter 1-1-3, Grace Reilly 2-5-9, Naomi Pollak 3-1-8, Ashley Barker 4-12-21, Makenzie Williams 1-1-3. Totals 13-22-50.
Elyria Catholic 4 10 13 16 — 39
Mogadore 12 13 7 18 — 50
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic (Carandang 4, McNamara 3, Schill); Mogadore (Pollak, Barker). Field goals: Elyria Catholic 10-57 (18 percent), Mogadore 13-44 (30 percent); Free throws: Elyria Catholic 11-18 (61 percent), Mogadore 22-27 (81 percent); Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 38, Mogadore 42; Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 21, Mogadore 12; Total fouls: Elyria Catholic 21, Mogadore 15.