ELYRIA — The Elyria Pioneers had the upset in reach Friday night against Shaker Heights but ended up more than a little upset they couldn’t pull it off.
With 4.4 seconds to play in regulation, all the Pioneers had to do was foul one of the Raiders on an inbound pass or soon thereafter and the game was theirs.
But they didn’t and the Raiders executed the perfect play to send the game to overtime where they won 82-81 in Greater Cleveland Conference play. The loss negated what was probably the Pioneers’ best effort of the season.
“We were supposed to foul,” Elyria coach Brett Larrick said. “We didn’t execute. We didn’t get it done. They made the play.”
Elyria (8-11, 2-9 GCC) lost 80-64 at Shaker Heights earlier in the season but that was without MarSaun Robinson, its sophomore point guard who was injured slightly in a minor traffic accident. Robinson was in the lineup Friday and he and the rest of the Pioneers came to play.
“We told them they fought, they battled for four quarters,” Larrick said. “They had the game won. You want to beat good teams, second place in the conference, one of the top teams in Cleveland. You gotta execute.”
The final sequence in regulation will be one Larrick and his team will replay over and over again. Shaker Heights coach Danny Young said the play was created by the late Bob Wonson, the longtime Shaker Heights coach.
“I want to give a shout out to Coach Bob Wonson, rest his soul,” Young said. “I was his assistant for 17 years and that’s a play I saw Bob run for years and years. Perfect time on the clock — 4.4 seconds - to get some misdirection and the rest … well you saw what happened.”
Shaker Heights (12-5, 8-3) had the ball under Elyria’s basket following a frantic final two minutes in which the Pioneers had come from 66-61 down to take a 69-66 lead. Robinson’s steal and layup seemingly sealed the deal and the Raiders called time with 4.4 left.
Shaker Heights spread its offense and got the ball to Dakota Cochran, who led the Raiders with 33 points and 14 rebounds.
“Coach drew it up perfectly,” Cochran said. “We executed it.”
“When we were in that timeout, Coach Larrick said to foul them immediately after two or three dribbles,” Elyria’s Caleb Rogers said. “We didn’t execute. My guy (DeMaris Conner) was in the corner and when (Cochran) drove, I went to go help because I thought he was going to pull a three but he ended up passing it. That was a good drive and kick. I wasn’t expecting it and he just hit the shot.”
“You just have to stay composed, to be honest,” Cochran said. “Make the right plays, no turnovers, make the right shots.”
“That was a big shot,” Robinson said. “We didn’t expect that to happen. Our plan was to foul and get them to the line for two (foul shots). Things happen. Something we’ll have to live with.”
Elyria got big nights from several players. Rogers had 22 points, Robinson 18, Will Waddell 14 points and seven rebounds, Jahkai Owens 13 points and eight rebounds and Aiden Carter five points and seven rebounds.
Several times, Elyria trailed by nine points but battled back each time.
“We know Shaker’s second in the conference,” Waddell said. “We knew we lost the first time without MarSaun. We wanted to make a name for ourselves and show them we were ready to play.”
Shaker Heights shot 55 percent from the floor, including a red-hot 10-of-19 from the 3-point line — none bigger than Conner’s.
“They drove it, kicked it,” Larrick said. “We weren’t supposed to leave anybody. We were supposed to foul after one dribble. We didn’t execute there. Tough to say one play but it put us into overtime and it was one of our worst shooting free throw nights (8-of-15), doesn’t help either.”
“Coach Larrick does a great job,” Young said. “This is a tough place to play. They come to play no matter what his team’s record are. You come into his house, they’re going to play hard, be fundamentally sound and get after you.”
Shaker turned the ball over 20 times against the Pioneers’ pressure but the Raiders made the play they needed to and they made the free throws they needed in overtime, hitting five in eight attempts.
Elyria athletic director Heather Beck was honored prior to the game with the Northeast Ohio Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Athletic Director of the Year award. She’ll be honored at the awards banquet April 7.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shaker Heights 82, Elyria 81
SHAKER HEIGHTS (82): DeMario Conner 5-0-12, Shammah Scott 6-4-18, Danny Young, Jr. 2-1-6, Dakota Cochran 12-5-33, Harry Carroll 2-0-4, Che Johnson 2-2-7, Josh Aliff 0-0-0, Eric Mudd 1-0-2. Totals 30-12-82.
ELYRIA (81): Aiden Carter 2-0-5, MarSaun Robinson 8-2-18, Caleb Rogers 8-0-22, Josiah Grantham 0-2-2, Will Waddell 6-2-14, Jahkai Owens 6-1-13, Izaiah Thomas 0-0-0, Nate Collins 0-0-0, Jesse Stevens 2-0-4, Dez Shelton 1-1-3. Totals 33-8-81.
Shaker Heights 17 23 18 11 13 — 82
Elyria 14 20 19 16 12 — 81
Three-point goals: Shaker Heights 10-19 (Cochran 4, Conner 2, Scott 2, Young, Johnson), Elyria 7-11 (Rogers 6, Carter). Field goals: Shaker Heights 30-54 (55 percent), Elyria 33-68 (48.5 percent). Free throws: Shaker Heights 12-21 (57 percent), Elyria 8-15 (53 percent). Rebounds: Shaker Heights 36 (Cochran 14), Elyria 35 (Owens 8). Turnovers: Shaker Heights 20, Elyria 8. Fouls: Shaker Heights 17, Elyria 19. Fouled out: Carroll.
Junior varsity: Shaker Heights, 62-55