THOMAS FETCENKO / CHRONICLE Lorain High School's Deonte Benejan (5) shoots and Maple Heights High School's Javon Pollard (5) raises his arms to attempt to block the shot on Friday night, January 4.
Thomas R Fetcenko 2014 440-864-5 Enlarge
LORAIN — Sometimes a team’s worst can be good enough.
Lorain struggled in the second half, blowing what was a
17-point third-quarter lead before holding on for a 70-61 Lake Erie League win over Maple Heights.
“We got a lead, then we got comfortable,” Lorain coach John Rositano said. “We don’t want to be comfortable and we played real comfortable that second half. (Maple Heights) did whatever they wanted to do offensively in the second half. Nobody sat down in a stance, nobody dictated where the ball was going.
“We didn’t rebound. We didn’t run the court. Quite honestly, we won because we’re just better, not because of the things we did out there.”
Early in the game, the Titans (9-0, 4-0 LEL) looked like the powerhouse they’ve been most of the season, jumping out to a big early lead. Taevon Pierre-Louis scored 10 of his 19 points in the first quarter as Lorain took a 21-9 lead into the second period.
Even with leading scorer Devon Grant struggling from the field, Lorain built on that lead in the second quarter and was up 35-19 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Mustangs (4-4, 0-3) made their run.
A Pierre-Louis bucket gave Lorain a 40-23 lead with 5:34 left in the quarter, but Maple Heights reeled off an 11-0 run to slash the lead to six.
“I told them they had two choices, they were down 16 or 17 and I told them they either get blown out by 40 or they make it a game,” Mustangs coach Eric Schmidt said. “We kept on fighting. We’re real young. I’ve got 12 guys with zero varsity experience and two guys with a little varsity experience.
“I’m real proud of them. They’re fighting, they’re competing. It’s tough coming here and playing against one of the best teams in the state, but I thought they did everything we asked them.”
Lorain led 48-41 after three quarters, but Maple Heights scored the first two baskets of the fourth to pull within three.
Kam Davis responded for Lorain, shedding his man at the top of the key and feeding the ball to an open Aaron Whitehead in the left corner for a 3-pointer that gave the Titans some breathing room.
From there, Grant took over, scoring Lorain’s next nine points to help the Titans pull away. Maple Heights cut the lead to six with 31 seconds left, but couldn’t get closer.
“He took over, but it should have never came to that,” Rositano said of Grant. “Hey, sometimes it’s better to win ugly than to lose looking good. We’ll take the ugly win and we’re going to move on.”
Grant finished with a game-high 22 points despite scoring just five in the first half on 2-of-9 shooting.
“I was just playing the way I play,” Grant said. “I saw opportunities and my team kept getting me the ball so I took those open opportunities.”
Titans junior Jordan Jackson left the game in the second quarter and did not return, giving sophomore Aiden Brown a boost in playing time. Brown responded with four points and a season-high seven blocked shots.
“The coaches have been telling me to get midline faster and to be a good helper to the defender so I can come over and get the block or alter a lot of shots,” Brown said. “It was real important (tonight) because we have a real good press, but when they beat the press sometimes mistakes happen. I’m just happy I can be the guy to get back and defend the paint.”
Whitehead scored 12 points off the bench for Lorain while Jackson scored eight and blocked three shots in his limited time. Javon Pollard led Maple Heights with 20 points while Larry Reynold added 16.
The Mustangs, who won the rebounding battle 48-28, scored a 57-43 road win over Lorain last season.
“Every team we play, this is their Super Bowl,” Rositano said. “It would make their season if they beat us. These teams come in here and they’re ready to play. They’re juiced up. In the second half it looked like a summer pick-up game. We’re not used to that.
“You’re going to have games like this throughout the season. As a coach you just hope to minimize them. The way we did things in the second half was disappointing. You’ll have games like this. You just hope to win them.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lorain 70, Maple Heights 61
MAPLE HEIGHTS (61): Brian Hagar 1-0-2, Devin Dial 0-0-0, Larry Reynold 6-2-16, Javon Pollard 9-2-20, Perry Fullom 3-0-7, Davon Smith-Johnson 2-0-4, Antone Baker 1-0-2, Delaunte Hall 2-2-6, Jamere Sheron 2-0-4. Totals 26-6-61.
LORAIN (70): Jordan Jackson 3-0-8, Taevon Pierre-Louis 7-4-19, Devon Grant 7-6-22, Deonte Benejan 2-1-5, Kam Davis 0-0-0, Aaron Whitehead 4-0-12, Aiden Brown 2-0-4. Totals 25-11-70.
Maple Heights 9 10 22 20 — 61
Fairview 21 14 13 22 — 70
Three-point goals: Maple Heights 3-11 (Reynold 2, Fullom), Lorain 9-19 (Whitehead 4, Grant 2, Jackson 2, Pierre-Louis). Field goals: Maple Heights 26-58 (44.8 percent), Lorain 25-58 (43.1 percent). Free throws: Maple Heights 6-16 (37.5 percent), Lorain 11-22 (50 percent). Rebounds: Maple Heights 48 (Reynold 10), Lorain 28 (Pierre-Louis 7). Turnovers: Maple Heights 26, Lorain 15. Total fouls: Maple Heights 18, Lorain 13.
Junior varsity: Lorain, 54-46