VERMILION — For Lorain sophomore Jordan Jackson, Tuesday’s 49-48 win over Vermilion was the stuff dreams are made of.
On the opposite side, the Sailors lived out a second-half nightmare of missed free throws and squandered opportunities.
In his first varsity game, Jackson stepped to the foul line with three seconds left to play and hit what proved to be a game-winning free throw that broke a 48-48 tie and gave Lorain its first lead of the fourth quarter.
“I look up to the veterans on the team like (Devon) Grant and (Taevon) Pierre-Louis that have varsity experience,” Jackson said. “They are like brothers to me. And they told me, ‘You got it,” and “Just keep your head up.”
Jackson’s free throw completed a 10-3 run to end the game for the Titans, who held Vermilion scoreless the final 3:47 of the fourth quarter.
“They grew up a lot as a team tonight,” Lorain coach John Rositano said after watching his team, which only has three seniors on the roster, overcome a sloppy first half in its season opener. “We had a lot of young guys really step. To be down eight with five or six minutes to play in this type of environment says a lot about our guys.”
“I told them that we win games because we’re winners and we practice unbelievably hard. It all pays off in games like this.”
Grant had a game-high 20 points for the Titans and Pierre-Lewis added 17, as well as making the crosscourt pass to Jackson, allowing him to drive to the basket to set up the game-winning foul shot. Pierre-Lewis also was the leader of the Lorain defense late in the game.
“In the first half I really didn’t play well,” Pierre-Lewis said. “I could have done better. In the second half, I just stayed patient and things opened up for me.”
Everything was going Vermilion’s way early on. The Sailors (2-1) led 38-33 after three quarters and had Lorain in serious foul trouble.
The one place the Sailors struggled all night was at the free throw line. Vermilion made just eight of 19 free throws and only connected on 33 percent of its foul shots (5-of-15) over the last three quarters.
Seth Hurd led the Sailors with 14 points while Mason Montgomery added 13. Montgomery had a last-second chance to be the hero but his off-balance desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good.
“We panicked with the basketball in the last three minutes after we handled their pressure well all game,” Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl said. “We couldn’t make a free throw. When you’re 8-of-19 from the line that’s not going to win you any basketball games.
“I told the boys I thought we were the better team. We should have won that game. But we’re not here for moral victories. We’ll get back at it and get ready for Friday (against Port Clinton). There are no positives to take out of this game.”
Grant, who scored 12 of his 20 points in the second half, said getting their first win on the road was a big deal for the young Titans.
“Vermilion is a great team and they play really well together,” Grant said. “It was a close game. Everyone had butterflies because it was our first game. This was really big for us. We all stuck together as a family, like brothers, and pulled it out.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lorain 49, Vermilion 48
LORAIN (49): Jodeci Crite 2-0-4, Jordan Jackson 1-1-3, Taevon Pierre-Louis 6-5-17, Devon Grant 8-3-20, Justin Ruiz 2-0-5. Totals 19-9-49.
VERMILION (48): Seth Hurd 4-4-13, Mason Montgomery 6-0-13, Luke Pena 0-2-2, Joby Pfeil 3-0-7, Reese Miller 2-0-5, Jonah Pfeil 2-2-8. Totals 17-8-48.
Lorain 9 14 10 16 — 49
Vermilion 9 13 16 10 — 48
Three point goals: Lorain (Grant, Ruiz), Vermilion (Jonah Pfeil 2, Joby Pfeil, Miller, Hurd, Montgomery). Field goals: Lorain 19-36 (52 percent), Vermilion 17-35 (48 percent). Free throws: Lorain 9-15 (60 percent), Vermilion 8-19 (42 percent). Rebounds: Lorain 28, Vermilion 35. Turnovers: Lorain 17, Vermilion 15. Total fouls: Lorain 18, Vermilion 13. Fouled out: Crite.
Junior varsity: Lorain, 61-43