NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The end of the season was in sight for Keystone, as it trailed Holy Name by 25 points after three quarters in the Division II district semifinal at North Ridgeville High School on Wednesday night.
There was only one thing left for the Wildcats to do — go down fighting.
Fourth-seeded Keystone put a scare into the Green Wave, cutting the deficit to seven on three occasions, but the Wildcats lost 70-59. It ended a championship season and the career of six seniors, including Brody Kuhl, who finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds against top-seeded Holy Name.
The Green Wave (21-3) will face the winner of tonight’s Bay-Fairview game for the district championship Saturday at 4 o’clock.
The Wildcats needed a stellar performance if they were going to knock off the Green Wave, and it never materialized as they turned over the ball 17 times in three quarters. Keystone trailed by as many as 28 points and was behind 55-30 going to the fourth quarter.
“Man, their pressure is good and we thought if we could handle the pressure we could be in this game,” Wildcats coach Jeff Holzhauer said. “Our kids have been fantastic all year, but we were rattled and just weren’t getting to the right spots and our movement stopped.
“We were tired. We didn’t want to play at that pace very long. That’s why we can crank it up a little bit in the fourth quarter. We can’t do that for four quarters.”
With the outcome all but determined, Keystone took a hard look at itself before the last quarter of the year.
“That’s one thing about our team, we never give up,” Kuhl said. “I couldn’t be more proud — give credit to Holy Name — but I couldn’t be prouder of our guys.”
Kuhl started what turned out to be a 22-4 run for the Wildcats by scoring seven straight points in the paint, including a 3-point play to trim the deficit to 58-40.
It was then Ethan Sokolowski’s turn, as he scored seven of the next 12 Keystone points on a pair of drives and a free throw off his steal to cut the deficit to 10 with 2:27 left. He finished with 12 points.
Jeremy Gerhardinger added a basket and the ’Cats got a three from Drake Rodick (10 points) and another by Kevin Mealwitz with defenders draped on him with 1:57 on the clock, and suddenly Keystone was only down 62-55.
“They (the Wildcats) really played hard, it would have been easy to give up late in the third and into the fourth,” Green Wave coach Jeff Huber said. “Our defense slipped and they started making some shots. The combination of those two things let them make a run.”
The Wildcats never got any closer as Holy Name hit six of eight free throws in the final minutes to hold off Keystone and end the career of Kuhl, who will go down as one of the all-time greats for the Wildcats.
“Brody has been a starter for four years and he has turned into one of the best shooters we have had,” Holzhauer said. “We’ve had some tremendous leaders, but as a senior to lead by example and lead in every way that you would want.
“He would just flat out win games and it’s been impressive. He has evolved from a little 200-pound freshman that could shoot to the player that you see now. He does everything that you need him to do.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holy Name 70, Keystone 59
KEYSTONE (59): Drake Rodick 4-1-10, Ethan Sokolowski 4-3-12, Brody Kuhl 7-4-20, Kevin Mealwitz 2-0-6, Matt Mealwitz 2-0-5, Mason Strader 0-0-0, Jacob Schackelford 0-0-0, Jeremy Gerhardinger 3-0-6. Totals 22-8-59.
HOLY NAME (70): Quentin Richardson 3-0-6, Calvin McPherson 0-0-0, Brandon Styers 7-1-19, Joe Schmock 1-0-3, Chris Miller 2-3-9, Andreus Harhalos 1-0-2, Joe Carter 2-0-4, Aidan Hickey 0-0-0, Joe Petrilla 0-1-1, Jon Minnich 3-0-7, Dwayne Cohill 6-5-19. Totals 25-10-70.
Keystone 4 14 12 29 — 59
Holy Name 14 20 21 15 — 70
Three-point goals: Keystone 7-19 (37 percent, Kuhl 2, K. Mealwitz 2, Rodick, Sokolowski, M. Mealwitz); Holy Name 10-23 (43 percent, Styers 4, Miller 2, Cohill 2, Schmock, Minnich). Field goals: Keystone 22-47 (47 percent); Holy Name 25-49 (51 percent). Free throws: Keystone 8-14 (57 percent); Holy Name 10-17 (59 percent). Rebounds: Keystone 29, Holy Name 28. Turnovers: Keystone 19, Holy Name 9.