WOOSTER — Charles Lewis had been waiting a long time for this.
The 6-foot Oberlin junior figured Monday’s district semifinal was on him, especially with the performance he had — or rather didn’t have — the first time the Phoenix tangled with Elyria Catholic during the regular season.
Monday was a different story as Oberlin avenged the 12-point loss it suffered with a 58-46 victory Monday night against the Panthers at the Wooster Division III district.
“The first time we played them, I really didn’t get to play,” Lewis said. “First quarter I got into foul trouble. Third quarter I got two more fouls and I sat out the rest of the game. I felt I had to show up and play my game.”
Lewis certainly did. He led the Phoenix with 17 points — 10 coming in the second half, including a huge 3-pointer that gave Oberlin the lead for good after EC had taken its first lead, 30-29, on a conventional three-point play by Ceevan Shelton midway through the third quarter.
Oberlin (17-7) will play its first district title game since it beat Brooklyn for the D-III title at Elyria in 2001. The Phoenix will face the winner of tonight’s Norwayne-Waynedale game Friday with a ticket to the Canton regional up for grabs.
“Oberlin-EC is a big game,” said senior Jason Moore, who did it all for Oberlin with 16 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. “The first time we met, we lost. We didn’t come in like we did (Monday). We knew if we wanted to win, we had to come in hard, intense and ready to go.”
It was Oberlin that played the game with the same intensity and desire that Elyria Catholic showed Friday when it knocked off Northwestern. That focus seemed to take the starch out of the Panthers.
“We really concentrated on bringing forth effort,” Oberlin coach Kurt Russell said. “I told the kids no matter what happens against an excellent Elyria Catholic team, we bring forth effort, I’m proud of them.”
That effort paid dividends. Elyria Catholic (13-12) committed 21 turnovers, many leading to fast-break opportunities for Oberlin the Panthers couldn’t afford.
“We rely heavily on our transition offense,” Elyria Catholic coach Jason Smith said. “Oberlin did an excellent job getting back and stopping us from doing that. They did a great job on our half-court sets — really shutting us down — forcing us to adjust and weren’t able to adjust properly.”
Elyria Catholic shot 54 percent from the field in beating Northwestern in its tournament debut Friday. Monday, it was less than half that at 26 percent.
Tyler Riddell finished his brilliant career with 12 points to lead Elyria Catholic. Shelton scored 10 and had as many rebounds, but none of the other Panthers found their way to double figures.
Oberlin 58, Elyria Catholic 46
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (46): Cory Strasko 2-3-7, Daniel Whitacre 3-2-8, Tyler Riddell 4-0-12, John Stursa 2-2-6, Ceevan Shelton 2-6-10, Xavier Bennett 1-0-2, DJ Graham 0-0-0, Conner Riddell 0-1-1. Totals 14-14-46.
OBERLIN (58): Jason Moore 6-3-16, Demonte Taborn 1-3-5, Charles Lewis 6-4-17, Marcus Bailey 4-0-9, Noland Isom 3-2-9, Dante LaRiccia 1-0-2, Kalif Townsel 0-0-0, Devante Hougland 0-0-0. Totals 21-12-58.
Elyria Catholic 8 10 13 15 — 46
Oberlin 5 18 16 19 — 58
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic 4-17 (T.Riddell 4), Oberlin 4-10 (Moore, Lewis, Bailey Isom). Field goals: Elyria Catholic 14-53 (26 percent), Oberlin 21-56 (37.5 percent). Free throws: Elyria Catholic 14-19 (74 percent), Oberlin 12-20 (60 percent). Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 43 (Shelton 10), Oberlin 36 (Moore 14). Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 21, Oberlin 12. Total fouls: Elyria Catholic 16, Oberlin 18. Fouled out: None.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.