GATES MILLS — Elyria Catholic is hoping its tough non-league schedule will be good preparation for a deep run come tournament time.
On Sunday, the Panthers got a lesson in what being the top team in Division III is all about.
Last year’s Division III state champions, Gilmour Academy, got a game-high 20 points from Michigan commit Naz Hillmon on its way to a 63-41 win over Elyria Catholic in the final of the Lancer Classic.
The Lancers’ two Division I commits — Hillmon, a 6-foot-2 forward, and Army commit Sarah Bohn, a 5-7 guard (18 points), provided a constant source of frustration for the Panthers in the paint and on the perimeter.
Elyria Catholic (7-4) took a 10-9 lead late in the first quarter when Megan Scheibelhut connected on a pair of free throws. That was the high-water mark for the Panthers as the Lancers (13-2) promptly went on a 14-1 run to take control of the game.
“We had a plan and it was working in the first quarter but we made a few turnovers and they turned them into layups,” Elyria Catholic coach Eric Rothgery said. “Make no mistake about it, Gilmour is an excellent team, You just can’t afford to give up easy baskets against a team of that caliber.”
Scheibelhut led the Panthers with 13 points while sophomore Ally Winnen added 10. Scheibelhut and Winnen also drew the assignment of trying to contain Hillmon for most of the afternoon.
“They’re a really good team,” said Scheibelhut, one of only three seniors on the Panthers roster. “I don’t know if we’ll face anyone this good again in the regular season but we’re gonna see teams like this in the playoffs,”
Elyria Catholic may see a team as good as Gilmour in the postseason but it won’t have to worry about facing the Lancers. Because of shifting enrollment numbers and the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s competitive balance initiative, Gilmour moved up to Division II while Elyria Catholic dropped down to Division III.
“We’re continuing to try to be a high-low team and get the ball into the post and sometimes it’s not easy,” Rothgery said. “We haven’t always had the size we have this year so as a team and as a coaching staff it’s still a work in progress. I felt like we really looked good at times today against a really tough opponent.”
Hillmon, the daughter of 1994 Ohio Miss Basketball Na’Sheema Hillmon, had a game-high 13 rebounds. Scheibelhut led Elyria Catholic on the boards with nine.
“It was tough to keep Hillmon out of the key,” Scheibelhut said. “With her size and strength you can just tell she’s a Division I athlete. Games like this are a lot of fun. We knew they were going to be tough, but it’s fun to come out and test yourself and see how good you are and how you measure up.”
Panthers point guard Faith Williams, who finished with nine points, made a free throw with 19.2 seconds to play in the first half to cut the Lancers lead to 33-24. Bohn came down and hit a 3-pointer at the other end to extend the Gilmour lead to 12.
The Lancers led by double digits the entire second half.
“This game was important for some of our younger girls who might now have as much experience to know what the game is like at this level,” Scheibelhut said. “These are the games that help you when it’s time to make a playoff run.”
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Gilmour 63, Elyria Catholic 41
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (41): Faith Williams 3-2-9, Abby Winnen 1-0-2, Kaylie Griffin 3-0-7, Megan Scheibelhut 3-6-13, Ally Winnen 3-4-10. Totals 13-12-41.
GILMOUR (63): Naz Hillmon 8-4-20, Sarah Bohn 6-2-18, Jordan Nolan 1-0-2, Annika Corcoran 5-0-10, Liz Bender 1-1-3, Athena Hocevar 1-0-2, Maddie Puletti 1-5-8. Totals 23-12-63.
Elyria Catholic 10 14 10 7 — 41
Gilmour 13 23 16 11 — 63
Three point goals: Elyria Catholic (Williams, Griffim, Scheibelht), Gilmour (Bohn 4, Puletti). Field goals: Elyria Catholic 13-37 (35 percent), Gilmour 23-51 (45 percent). Free throws: Elyria Catholic 12-16 (75 percent), Gilmour 12-21 (57 percent). Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 26, Gilmour 29. Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 19, Gilmour 14. Total fouls: Elyria Catholic 16, Gilmour 15.