ELYRIA — Bay’s John Koz kept pace with Elyria Catholic’s Jeremy Holley for most of the game, but Holley and the Panthers pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Holley finished with a double-double — game highs in points (23) and rebounds (14) — while Koz led Bay with 19 points, but scored just three in the fourth and the Panthers closed out Bay 69-57 in a West Shore Conference game Friday night.
“I think from the start we played with a lot of energy,” Holley said. “It started on the defensive end, I think that set up a lot of things for our offense. When we play defense everything comes natural to us.”
The best play for the Panthers (6-3, 4-2 WSC) came from a player who didn’t score — Darin Guice. In a scramble for a loose ball, Guice flung himself into the Elyria Catholic scoreboard and dislodged part of it. The brutal collision didn’t affect the young guard, he sprung up and returned to the floor.
After the play, Elyria Catholic closed the third outscoring Bay 6-2 and then opened the fourth with a 13-3 run in the first four minutes.
“Boy you just love that from a player,” Elyria Catholic coach Phil Kuchta said.
“We weren’t really getting after it at that point in the quarter, but that fired us up. When you see a kid sell out, it’s about all those little things. That type of effort means so much more than any basket.”
Bay (5-6, 3-3) kept it close for most of the first three quarters and looked like it was going to pull away out of halftime.
The Rockets opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run in the first three minutes and collapsed on the paint every time Holley touched the ball. The only Elyria Catholic field goal came from Holley.
“Every time Jeremy got the ball it seemed like they had four or five guys all over him,” Kuchta said. “The bottom line is our shooters have to make shots and take that pressure off of Jeremy.”
For the most part the Elyria Catholic shooters did, especially in weathering Bay’s initial run. The Panthers last three field goals of the third were all beyond the arc and they closed the quarter on an 11-4 run.
Elyria Catholic shot 30 percent from the 3-point line and connected on a number of mid-range jumpers. Three players — Jacob Kuchta, Kevin Kelley and Angelo Cruz — had two and Holley made the other. Kuchta finished with 15 points.
“Our guys got to decide they want to start playing defense,” Bay coach Jared Shetzer said. “That’s the bottom line. We’ve got a bunch of guys that don’t want to defend anybody. They get tired. I give Elyria Catholic credit. They’ve got a nice team with a lot of athletes and I’m not going to take anything away from them, but our kids have to decide whether or not they want to defend.”
Rex Sunahara and Brandon Morriss had double-doubles for the Rockets — Sunahara with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Morriss scored 10 points and flew through the post routinely, despite being outsized, to the count of 10 boards.
“Brandon is a tough player,” Shetzer said. “He is an undersized guy who’s been playing post his whole life. He’s a kid that’s coachable, that you want, that will just run through a brick wall and if we can get four or five other guys to play like that we’re going to be tough to beat.”
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria Catholic 69, Bay 57
BAY (57): John Koz 8-0-19, Brandon Morriss 5-0-10, Rex Sunahara 5-2-12, Jonathon Brajdic 2-0-6, Danny Heideloff 0-1-1, Collin DeBarr 0-1-1, Jack Aleksandrovic 0-0-0, Tyler Jones 0-0-0, Scott Durham 1-0-2, Jack Kyle 1-0-2, Matt Orr 2-0-4. Totals 24-4-57.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (69): Jacob Kuchta 4-5-15, Conner Riddell 1-1-3, Jeremy Holley 10-2-23, D.J. Graham 1-0-2, Kevin Kelley 2-2-8, Ceeven Shelton 2-3-7, James Tirbaso 1-2-4, Angelo Cruz 2-0-6, Drew Kaplan 0-0-0, Darin Guice 0-1-1. Totals 23-16-69.
Bay 16 17 14 10 — 57
Elyria Catholic 20 17 13 19 — 69
Three-point goals: Bay 5-20 (25 percent, Koz 3, Brajdic 2), Elyria Catholic 7-23 (30 percent, Kelley 2, Kuchta 2, Cruz 2, Holley 1). Field goals: Bay 24-60 (40 percent), Elyria Catholic 23-57 (40 percent). Free throws: Bay 4-12 (33 percent), Elyria Catholic 16-21 (76 percent). Rebounds: Bay 36 (Sunahara 11, Morriss 10), Elyria Catholic 35 (Holley 14). Total fouls: Bay 18, Elyria Catholic 13. Turnovers: Bay 14, Elyria Catholic 9.
Junior varsity: Bay, 60-57