ELYRIA — They knew it was coming and practiced for it extensively all week, but Elyria couldn’t solve Brunswick’s 1-3-1 zone.
The Blue Devils turned the ball over just once in the first half and stifled the Pioneers’ offense all night in their 52-35 Greater Cleveland Conference at Elyria High School.
Elyria (4-9, 2-6 GCC) started three players over 6-feet, hoping to take advantage of a Brunswick team that does not have a single 6-footer, but Brunswick (10-4, 8-2) used the zone to control the pace of the game.
The Pioneers turned the ball over 17 times and shot just 27 percent in the first half to allow the Blue Devils to build a 24-17 halftime lead.
Elyria coach Tony Brown was surprised his team struggled with Brunswick’s zone.
“We’ve been practicing against that zone because everybody has been trying to slow us down,” he said. (Point guard) Tristyn (Thurman) is really fast with the basketball, sometimes too fast. We try to get in our sets, but we’re not patient. That’s our problem.
“We want the one hit or quit every time down the floor. We have to swing the ball, move the defense and look for the open shot. We have to penetrate the gaps and attack the seams. We don’t share the ball enough.”
Against the bigger Pioneers, Brunswick coach Halle Schmidt knew her team’s zone was critical.
“We don’t have a big girl, so we’ve been looking for ways to pressure the ball by using some different zones and sitting back, looking to play the passing lanes,” she said. “I do have a solid basketball team that’s pretty athletic. We aren’t big but we use our ability to trap the ball and move a little bit.”
The Blue Devils built their lead to 29-19 early in the second half before the Pioneers showed a spark.
Tiffany Means hit a 3-pointer from the right wing, then Chelsey Farris, who led Elyria with 15 points and 13 rebounds, stuck back a Thurman miss to cut the Brunswick lead to 29-24 with 2:43 left in the third quarter.
That’s when Brunswick’s Angela Fink made the game-changing play.
She took a pass from Gabbi Campbell as she rolled to the basket. She threw up a tricky runner from the right side of the lane that fell as she was fouled by Farris.
Fink hit the free throw to complete the three-point play and spark an 11-0 Brunswick run that put the game away.
Farris said her team struggled with communication, especially in the second half.
“We have to talk more and communicate better because that will make things easier on all of us,” she said. “It’s been a struggle because as a team we have to learn how to play better. We have to feed off each other. When we don’t play together things are that much harder for us.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brunswick 52, Elyria 35
BRUNSWICK (52): Natalie Galaida 1-0-3, Maddy Grabowski 2-0-4, Gabbi Campbell 5-3-15, Angela Fink 3-10-17, Eileen Salisbury 2-5-9, Anna Krizsa 1-0-2, Maddie Ramicone 1-0-2. Totals 15-18-52.
ELYRIA (35): Tristyn Thurman 1-1-4, Savannah Bauer 0-0-0, Chelsey Farris 6-3-16, Angelina Aulisio 0-0-0, Tiffany Means 3-0-7, Michaela King 0-0-0, Toni McClinton 3-0-6, Tylese Noble 0-0-0, Myanna King 1-0-2. Totals 14-4-35.
Brunswick 11 13 14 14 — 52
Elyria 9 8 7 11 — 35
Three-point goals: Brunswick 4-19 (Campbell 2, Galaida, Fink), Elyria 3-17 (Thurman, Farris, Means). Field goals: Brunswick 15-46 (32.6 percent); Elyria 14-53 (26.4 percent); Free throws: Brunswick 18-22 (81.8 percent), Elyria 4-9 (44.4 percent); Rebounds: Brunswick 32 (Salisbury 7), Elyria 40 (Farris 13); Turnovers: Brunswick 12, Elyria 17; Total fouls: Brunswick 12, Elyria 16; Fouled out: Means.
Junior varsity: Brunswick, 30-23