PARMA — Elyria Catholic has a few very secure security blankets on this year’s roster.
Dorian Crutcher and Branson Taylor, two of those security blankets, combined to spur a key stretch that turned a close game into a relatively easy win for the Panthers on Friday night.
The duo combined for 40 points in EC’s 55-41 win over Parma.
Providing a strong inside-out combination that kept the Redmen on their heels.
The win was welcome, helping the Panthers erase the sting of Tuesday’s 99-73 loss to Holy Name, in which the Green Wave erupted for a 38-point second quarter.
“Dorian hit some shots, and Branson played a big part,” said EC coach Phil Kuchta, whose team improved to 3-2 and 2-1 in the Great Lakes Conference.
“Our guys love (Taylor). He has a big heart, and he’s developing more every day. When we get the ball to him, good things happen.”
Good things weren’t happening early for the Panthers, who were trudging along and allowing the young Redmen to stay in it. Parma freshman Allan Eason, who along with fellow freshman Makail Cottingham make up a strong backcourt, scored 11 in the first half, including seven straight that brought Parma within 21-20 early in the second quarter.
But Cottingham got in foul trouble and the Panthers pounced: Crutcher hit two threes and another jumper, and Taylor scored a few more as EC used an 11-0 run to pull away.
Taylor, who entered the game averaging 14 points and six rebounds, scored 12 of his 16 in the first half — including his first two made free throws of the season. He also grabbed nine rebounds.
“Me and my teammates have great relationships, and I’m fitting in well,” said Taylor, a 6-foot-7 sophomore who saw just a little varsity time a year ago. “I do tell them to give me the ball, that I can score when I’m open. But I like when they create offense, too.”
The Panthers can hurt opponents a number of ways — if Crutcher isn’t hitting from the outside (that’s rare, as he mad 9-of-17 Friday), he, Jarred Logan, Donovan Warfield and others can penetrate into the key. Once the defense commits, there’s Taylor, waiting for dump-offs or outmuscling opponents for second chances.
On Friday, EC led by as many as 18 (44-26) in the third. The Redmen trimmed it to as few as eight early in the fourth as Cottingham scored 10 in the second half, but Logan — who was held to five points and was in foul trouble himself — hit a key three to push the lead back to double figures and stem the tide.
Overall, the Panthers forced 12 Parma turnovers and held the Redmen to 36 percent shooting (16-of-44).
“(EC is) really good at using their defense to create offense, and we saw that again tonight,” Parma coach Mike Durkin said.
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria Catholic 55, Parma 41
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (55): Edward Wright II 1-0-3, Donovan Warfield 1-0-2, Dorian Crutcher 9-0-24, David Griffin 0-2-2, Spencer Barhorst 1-0-3, Jarred Logan 2-0-5, Branson Taylor 7-2-16. Totals: 21-4-55.
PARMA (41): Allan Eason 5-1-12, Kevin Ivancic 2-0-4, Jordan Terbrack 1-1-4, Dylan Herb 1-0-2, Makail Cottingham 4-3-12, Ben Smenda 2-1-5, Jacob Lizardi 1-0-2. Totals: 16-6-41.
Elyria Catholic 17 15 15 8 — 55
Parma 13 8 11 9 — 41
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic 9-26 (Wright, Crutcher 6, Barhorst, Logan), Parma 3-19 (Eason, Terbrack, Cottingham). Field goals: Elyria Catholic 21-51 (41 percent), Parma 16-44 (36 percent). Free throws: Elyria Catholic 4-8 (50 percent), Parma 6-10 (60 percent). Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 32 (Taylor 9), Parma 26 (Eason 5). Total fouls: Elyria Catholic 9, Parma 14. Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 11, Parma 12.
Junior varsity: Elyria Catholic, 50-47