STRONGSVILLE -- Elyria dug in defensively Friday night and it paid off in a win.
The Pioneers contested just about every shot Strongsville attempted in a 48-38 Greater Cleveland Conference win.
Strongsville shot 30 percent from the 3-point arc but just 23 percent overall in falling to 0-6, 0-3.
“That was the best defense we’ve played in a really, really long time,” said a proud Brett Larrick, Elyria’s coach after the Pioneers improved to 4-1, 2-1. “Our game plan was actually to mix our defenses up. We wanted to play our man (defense) and everything. We played it as well as we could. How we were … helping on (Omari) Peek driving and how we were playing on (Shaun) Csire inside. Our guys, every single one of them, our man defense and rebounding was really good too.”
Elyria’s interior defense was solid and the Pioneers went after every shot, making sure nothing came easy for the Mustangs. Justin Koepp and Will Waddell patrolled the inside like they were guarding their a bank vault.
“The two best men on Strongsville’s team -- Peek and Csire -- the plan was like dig on them and not let them get inside the paint,” Waddell said. “Coach Larrick switched us up and I had to guard Peek. My attitude was to lock it up and not let him get in the paint.”
Peek scored just four points, going 2-for-10 from the floor. Csire was just 3-of-13 and scored seven points. Both came in averaging double figures. No Mustang had more than Csire’s seven points.
“We have a good shooting team,” said Strongsville coach Joe Guilfoyle, in his first year with the Mustangs but a veteran of 23 successful years at North Royalton. “(Friday) we were awful shooting. Elyria really played hard and they wanted it more than we did, for sure.
“We took a big step backward. We were coming but sometimes you take two steps forward and three steps back. (Friday) we took a step back. Defensively, I thought we played well enough to win.”
Elyria had its own offensive problems. The Pioneers had trouble solving Strongsville’s packed-in zone but the Pioneers managed to make 7 of 16 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“All the guards were taking care of the offensive side,” said Koepp, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds. “We knew they’d be a really aggressive, attacking team. I knew I had to be in there to help keep the basket safe and protect it. I just tried to do my part.”
Koepp, less than 100 percent due to a bout with the flu, was kept in check offensively against the zone but he scored eight points in a key 10-0 run in the fourth quarter that helped the Pioneers grab a 48-33 lead.
Elyria also managed to get the ball to him in transition.
Freshman guard MarSaun Robinson nailed four 3-pointers and all 14 of his points in the first half in helping Elyria gain control. Roman Carter chipped in 11, including a trio of 3-pointers.
“MarSaun kind of carried our offense in the first half and got us going,” Larrick said.
While Elyria could have won by an even wider margin had it taken better care of the basketball (11 turnovers) and played a little smarter with the lead, Larrick was happy to come away with a win.
Deviian Williams, who grabbed 15 boards, got into early foul trouble but Larrick utilized Josiah Grantham and Dontae Beckett to help the effort. He also got good minutes from Izaiah Thomas and Josh Ball off the bench.
“They were all on the same page together,” Larrick said of his players. “They were fighting for stops. That was just a great team defensive effort.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria 48, Strongsville 38
ELYRIA (48): MarSaun Robinson 5-0-14, Deviian Williams 2-0-4, Roman Carter 4-0-11, William Waddell 2-0-4, Justin Koepp 5-0-10, Caleb Rogers 0-0-0, Josiah Grantham 0-1-1, Dontae Beckett 2-0-4, Izaiah Thomas 0-0-0, Josh Ball 0-0-0. Totals 20-1-48.
STRONGSVILLE (38): Omari Peek 2-0-4, Tim Ruch 2-0-6, Bernie McGivern 0-0-0, Sami Farraj 1-0-3, Shaun Csire 3-0-7, Joe Lake 2-0-4, Kevin Lawler 0-0-0, Jalen Garner 1-1-3, Ali Awada 1-0-3, Tre Massey 2-0-6, Jose Monterrosa 0-0-0, Madhi Tayeh 1-0-2. Totals 15-1-38.
Elyria 10 16 12 10 — 48
Strongsville 7 13 7 11 — 38
Three-point goals: Elyria 7-16 (Robinson 4, Carter 3), Strongsville 7-23 (Ruch 2, Massey 2, Farraj, Csire, Awada). Field goals: Elyria 20-50 (40 percent), Strongsville 15-64 (23 percent). Free throws: Elyria 1-8 (12.5 percent), Strongsville 1-7 (14 percent). Rebounds: Elyria 45 (Williams 14), Strongsville 43 (Peek 8). Turnovers: Elyria 11, Strongsville 6. Fouls: Elyria 11, Strongsville 9.
Junior varsity: Strongsville, 49-41