MAPLE HTS. — Teams coming down the stretch of the regular season have a tendency to relax and look ahead to the postseason.
Coach John Rositano was having none of it for his Lorain Titans.
In workmanlike fashion, the state’s sixth-ranked Titans dismantled a solid Maple Heights team 85-57 in Lake Erie League play.
“We took care of business,” Rositano said. “We just methodically grinded it out, just took them apart. Just kept on expanding the lead. That’s what good teams do. A Tuesday on the road, you take that.”
For the second game in a row, Taevon Pierre-Louis scored a career-best 32 points. He even stepped back to hit three 3-pointers.
He set the tone with 11 points in the first quarter, when Lorain took control with a 14-4 lead. The Titans (16-1 overall, 9-0 LEL) finished the quarter on a 9-2 run for a 23-8 lead.
Pierre-Louis shrugged off the big-production games, giving credit to his teammates.
“My teammates finding me, getting me open shots, giving me the ball where I am comfortable with it,” he said. “We came and did what we had to do. We got to work on things we normally don’t get to work on. We started picking it up and had confidence in ourselves.”
“He’s starting to see the end is near,” Rositano said of Pierre-Louis. “That’s what a lot of really talented seniors do. It gets closer to tournament time — it’s money time. He, (Devon) Grant and the seniors understand that. They’re getting themselves ready right now.”
Grant, Lorain County’s leading scorer at more than 27 points a game, finished with a quiet 15, but Rositano couldn’t be happier with the way he approaches each game.
“What I liked (Tuesday) was Grant saw Pierre-Louis had it going again and he is the most unselfish high-scoring player I’ve been around,” Rositano said. “Matter of fact, we called a play for him and he deferred to just get it to Pierre-Louis ’cause he had it going. That’s what really good, unselfish players do.
“They don’t care about stats. They care about winning.”
In all, eight Titans scored. In addition to Pierre-Louis and Grant, junior Deonte Benejan chipped in 11 points. Jordan Jackson scored seven and led the rebounding with nine. Aaron Whitehead, Aiden Brown and senior Luis Suarez had six points each off the bench.
Suarez took advantage of the situation. He threw in a 3-pointer in the second quarter and had another in the fourth. Suarez loves the fact he keeps the starters zoned in.
“When I get in, they want me to shoot the wide-open threes,” he said. “They know I can hit them. I push (the starters) to their limits. I know I can do a lot of great things on the court and off the court. I just want to make them better.”
Lorain hasn’t always taken care of big leads but it did against the Mustangs (8-8, 2-6). The Titans had a 48-27 halftime lead and increased it to 68-33 with 1:23 left in the third quarter. Grant’s basket to open the final quarter pushed the lead to 35 again. Rositano substituted liberally from that point.
“We took a businesslike approach,” Rositano said. “Just did the things we were supposed to do.”
Lorain 85, Maple Heights 57
LORAIN (85): Jordan Jackson 2-3-7, Taevon Pierre-Louis 14-1-32, Devon Grant 7-0-15, Deonte Benejan 4-3-11, Kam Davis 0-0-0, Aiden Brown 3-0-6, Aaron Whitehead 3-0-6, Luis Suarez 2-0-6, Jaco Lee 1-0-2, Jae Von Manning 0-0-0. Totals 36-7-85.
MAPLE HEIGHTS (57): Railyn Smith 1-1-3, Devin Dian 2-0-5, Javon Pollard 5-1-11, Perry Fullum 2-3-7, Davon Smith-Johnson 5-0-10, Quinten Morris 2-0-4, DeLaunte Hall 2-0-4, Antoine Baker 3-2-8, Aaron Harrison 2-0-5, Quinten Teague 0-0-0. Totals 24-7-57.
Lorain 23 25 22 15 — 85
Maple Heights 8 19 10 20 — 57
Three-point goals: Lorain 6-12 (Pierre-Louis 3, Suarez 2, Grant), Maple 2-11 (Dial, Harrison). Field goals: Lorain 36-65 (55 percent), Maple 24-63 (38 percent). Free throws: Lorain 7-12 (58 percent), Maple 7-13 (54 percent). Rebounds: Lorain 28 (Jackson 8), Maple 39 (Pollard 9). Turnovers: Lorain 9, Maple 18. Fouls: Lorain 11, Maple 13.
Junior varsity: Lorain, 51-36