LORAIN – For a stretch of seven minutes in the second quarter of Friday’s opener of the Lorain County Holiday Classic, Oberlin overcame its shortcomings to earn a 10-point lead.
The Phoenix couldn’t quite keep it up.
Sandusky blitzed Oberlin in the third quarter, scoring 18 of the first 20 points of the second half to run away from the Phoenix in a 60-48 win.
Oberlin (3-4) will take on Elyria, which fell in the nightcap to Lorain, 50-39, while the Blue Streaks (5-3) and Titans will square off in tonight’s championship game.
“They went on their run and we couldn’t withstand it,” said Oberlin senior Justin Smith, who led the Phoenix with 17 points. “We could not hit shots and execute our offense. We didn’t do the things necessary that get wins in basketball.”
The Blue Streaks limited Oberlin to mostly jump shots in the first quarter, as they attempted to keep Smith and Devan Yarber from penetrating into the lane. That duo, though, and freshman Trajen Chambers, made enough jumpers to keep their team close – and set up that dominant stretch.
Oberlin held Sandusky scoreless for nearly seven minutes in the second quarter, a run in which the Phoenix scored in transition, off turnovers and on the offensive glass – turning a 17-13 deficit into a 27-17 edge.
It was shortlived. The Blue Streaks forced Oberlin coach Kurt Russell to use two timeouts to try to stem the tide early in the third, as Sandusky scored the first eight of the quarter and 18 of the first 20 overall. Dylan Jones, who led Sandusky with 15, scored seven in the stretch, and Keith Williams, who scored 10 overall, added six during the run.
Jones and Williams also combined to hold Oberlin’s Smith and Yarber to 13 points on 5-of-19 shooting in the second half.
“We are better than that,” said Sandusky coach Colin Irish when asked about his message to his team at halftime. “We didn’t play well early. We were a little timid, a little scared. We didn’t have defensive energy, but that changed and guys got after it.”
The Phoenix also once again felt the effects of a short bench and a young team. Oberlin plays only six or seven players, and relies on its starters for heavy minutes; three of those starters – Giles Harrell III, Trajen Chambers and Aaron Hopkins — are sophomores or younger.
When Smith and Yarber are locked up or misfiring, the Phoenix can struggle.
“The bottom fell out in the second half,” Russell said. “We are not going to make excuses about our age – we just didn’t play well. We couldn’t make shots, and we lost some confidence once we couldn’t knock some shots down.”
The Phoenix shot just 31 percent (16-of-51) on the evening. Yarber backed Smith with 10 points of his own.
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandusky 60, Oberlin 48
OBERLIN (48): Justin Smith 7-3-17, Devan Yarber 2-5-10, Trajen Chambers 3-0-9, Aaron Hopkins 3-2-8, Giles Harrell 1-1-4. Totals 16-11-48.
SANDUSKY (60): Keith Williams 4-2-10, Tahj Staveskie 3-2-8, Ra’Landes Johnson 0-2-2, Dylan Jones 5-4-15, Drayvin McLaughlin 2-0-4, Denaryon Swain 1-0-2, Noah Caston 1-0-2, Bryce Bouldwin 5-0-10, London Havens 3-1-7. Totals 24-11-60.
Oberlin 10 17 7 14 — 48
Sandusky 13 8 22 17 — 60
Three-point goals: Oberlin 5-19 (Yarber, Chambers 3, Harrell), Sandusky 1-11 (Jones). Field goals: Oberlin 16-51 (31 percent), Sandusky 24-60 (40 percent). Free throws: Oberlin 11-25 (44 percent), Sandusky 11-16 (69 percent). Rebounds: Oberlin 26 (Hopkins 8), Sandusky 52 (Bouldwin 13). Total fouls: Oberlin 15, Sandusky 22. Turnovers: Oberlin 9, Sandusky 17. Fouled out: Hopkins.