LORAIN — Defense wins championships.
Coaches love to say it and fans probably grow tired of hearing it, but Saturday night Lorain High proved it.
The Titans picked up their defensive intensity in the second half, holding Sandusky to eight third-quarter points to allow them to pull away for a 67-57 win in the finals of the Lorain County Holiday Classic.
After falling behind 11-0 in the opening three minutes, Lorain (6-1) spent the rest of the first half slowly cutting into the Blue Streaks’ lead.
A 20-5 Lorain run to start the third quarter — a quarter in which Sandusky (5-4) was held to two field goals and committed five turnovers — provided the decisive blow as the Titans won their fourth consecutive Holiday Classic championship. The 2015 championship game was canceled.
“Sandusky played a great first half, give them credit,” Lorain coach John Rositano said. “This was their Super Bowl. When teams play us they come in looking to make their season.
“They made it a very competitive basketball game. Luckily we were able to regroup at halftime and make some adjustments.”
The biggest adjustment came from the smallest man on the court. Junior guard Kameron Davis, who is 5-foot-6, drew the assignment of trying to shut down Sandusky star sophomore Dylan Jones.
Jones scored 16 of his team-high 20 points in the first half but after intermission Jones was able to get in Davis’ face and force him into turnovers and bad shots.
“Some of our guys are inexperienced but they’ve seen everything over the last couple years,” Rositano said. “They know how not to get jittery and how not get bothered when they get down a little bit and we were able to just gradually come back and take control of the game.”
Lorain’s Taevon Pierre-Lewis led all scorers with 21 points, including a pair of dunks, to earn the Holiday Classic MVP award.
Titans guard Devon Grant, who scored 13 points, and Jones were also named to the all-tournament team.
“It was a great win. We made a lot of mistakes but we came out and got the W, that’s all that matters to us,” Pierre-Lewis said. “In the first half they were getting open looks and easy shots. Before the second half I told my teammates to stay solid and work hard. We did that and that’s what helped pull us through.”
Lorain took its first lead at 40-37 with 5:40 to play in the third quarter on a Grant 3-pointer. The Titans never trailed again, extending their lead to as many as 17 points on three occasions in the fourth quarter.
Senior David Weatherington and sophomore Jordan Jackson were also in double figures for Lorain with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Weatherington was a big part of the Titans’ second-half rally, scoring 10 of his points over the final 16 minutes.
“Winning this tournament means a lot to us because a lot of people come out to support our basketball team,” Weatherington said. “We’ve got to put on a show for them every time we come out to play. Once we started playing good defense our shots started falling and everything come together. Even when we were down we still believed in ourselves because we believe we can beat anybody.”
Blue Streaks senior Keith Williams also had a big night with 19 points. Williams was also the beneficiary of an unusual call at the end of the third quarter when the referees ruled he was fouled in the act of shooting while heaving up a ball from beyond half-court as time expired.
The veteran officiating crew awarded Williams three free throws and put .3 seconds back on the clock. Williams stepped up to the line and made all three foul shots.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lorain 67, Sandusky 57
SANDUSKY (57): Keith Williams 6-4-19, Tahj Staveskie 3-1-8, Ra’ Landes Johnson 1-0-2, Dylan Jones 6-5-20, Denaryon Swain 1-0-2, London Havens 1-0-2, Jonteris Johnson 0-2-2, Bouldwin 1-0-2. Totals 19-12-57.
LORAIN (67): Jordan Jackson 5-0-12, Taevon Pierre-Lewis 7-5-21, Devon Grant 5-1-13, David Weatherington 4-3-13, Justin Ruiz 1-1-3, Kameron Davis 1-0-2, Jaiden Sledge 1-0-3 . Totals 24-10-67.
Sandusky 19 15 8 15 — 57
Lorain 14 17 20 16 — 67
Three point goals: Sandusky (Williams 3, Jones 3, Staveskie), Lorain (Jackson 2, Pierre-Lewis 2, Grant 2, Weatherington 2, Sledge). Field goals: Sandusky 19-40 (48 percent), Lorain 24-58 (41 percent). Free throws: Sandusky 12-16 (75 percent), Lorain 10-17 (59 percent). Rebounds: Sandusky 34, Lorain 37. Turnovers: Sandusky 17, Lorain 17. Total fouls: Sandusky 11, Lorain 17. Technical foul: Grant.