Elyria's Roman Carter goes for points in the Holiday Classic Tournament Friday night in Lorain. Jesse Grabowski / Chronicle
LORAIN — A big crowd and a bigger atmosphere were a little too much for Elyria’s young and inexperienced team to handle at the opening of the 20th Lorain County Holiday Classic on Friday night.
Host Lorain advanced to its sixth straight finals by beating the Pioneers 50-39.
The Titans (5-1) will meet Sandusky tonight for the Classic championship. Elyria (5-2) will have to settle for a chance in the consolation game against Oberlin. Lorain has claimed the past three titles but was denied a chance at a fourth in 2015 when the finals were cancelled after postgame unrest in the parking lot following the Elyria-Lorain game at Elyria High.
The Pioneers came in on the heels of three straight impressive wins but couldn’t score for the first 9:15 of the game. After righting the ship in the second quarter, Elyria mustered only five points in the third quarter. It’s the sixth straight loss to Lorain in the Classic.
For the first time this year, the Pioneers looked like the stage was too big.
“It was a concern,” Elyria coach Brett Larrick said. “This is really the first time these guys have played in an environment like this. This is the first game similar to the Holiday Classic, similar to the district championship last year, where most of them didn’t play besides Justin (Koepp).”
Elyria’s first quarter was a disaster. The Pioneers missed all eight of their shot attempts and turned the ball over six times. Lorain scored the first 14 points of the game before the Pioneers shook off the opening nerves. Elyria closed the deficit to 18-15 by halftime and appeared to have the momentum. Deviian Williams led the charge with 10 of Elyria’s 15 points. He finished with 19.
“This team is built differently than it has been in the past,” Lorain coach John Rositano said of his Titans. “We don’t have the horses or the size, the athleticism or depth but what these guys do, even though we’re young and inexperienced – they play hard. They get after it. We’re going to win this year by defending hard, rebounding the basketball and playing smart offensively. For the most part, we did a good job of that.”
Lorain opened the second half on a 9-0 run and a 27-15 lead. It was too much for Elyria to overcome. Devon Grant led the Titans with 21 points – many coming in transition.
“We had to keep the heat on and keep playing together as a team,” Grant said. “Continue to gel as always and keep our brotherhood tight.”
Taevon Pierre-Louis scored 12 points and had eight rebounds. Grant and Jodeci Crite each had six rebounds. Elyria had 20 turnovers to Lorain’s 13.
“I thought we had too many turnovers that led to points,” Larrick said. “We kind of backed down. We wanted to come out to start the third quarter – we missed a layup and two fadeaways and they scored four layups. We didn’t’ want to give up layups. We wanted them to try to beat us from outside but they got layups.”
Koepp was held to his lowest scoring output of the season (six points) but he did grab 11 rebounds. Williams had 10 rebounds. Roman Carter scored 10 points.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorain 50, Elyria 39
ELYRIA (39): MarSaun Robinson 0-1-1, Deviian Williams 7-2-19, Roman Carter 4-1-10, Will Waddell 0-0-0, Justin Koepp 3-0-6, Dontae Beckett 0-0-0, Caleb Rogers 0-0-0, Josiah Grantham 1-0-3, Josh Ball 0-0-0. Totals 15-4-39.
LORAIN (50): Jodeci Crite 0-0-0, Jordan Jackson 3-1-7, Taevon Pierre-Louis 4-4-12, Devon Grant 8-3-21, David Weatherington 3-0-7, Jaiden Sledge 1-0-3, Kameron Davis 0-0-0. Totals 19-10-50.
Elyria 0 15 5 19 — 39
Lorain 11 7 18 14 — 50
Three-point goals: Elyria 5-16 (Williams 3, Carter, Grantham), Lorain 2-12 (Weatherington, Sledge). Field goals: Elyria 15-51 (29 percent), Lorain 19-48 (38.5 percent). Free throws: Elyria 4-6 (66 percent), Lorain 10-16 (62.5 percent). Rebounds: 37 (Koepp 11), Lorain 39 (Pierre-Louis 8). Turnovers: Elyria 20, Lorain 13. Fouls: Elyria 10, Lorain 12. Technical foul: Elyria bench.
Junior varsity: Elyria 48-38