KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE Lorain High School's Devon Grant (3) takes a free-throw shot after being fouled during a gameagainst Warrensville Hights High School on Friday night, February 22.
GARFIELD HEIGHTS — Lorain has been searching for offense outside of its two go-to guys, Devon Grant and Taevon Pierre-Louis, heading into the postseason.
If Friday night is any indication, Jordan Jackson and Deonte Benejan are ready to step up.
The pair combined for 29 points as the Titans completed their undefeated Lake Erie League season with a 75-60 win over Warrensville Heights. They finished the regular season 12-0 in the conference and 21-1 overall.
The home game for Warrensville Heights was played at Garfield Heights because of water damage to the Tigers’ gym.
“The real season starts next Saturday,” Lorain coach John Rositano said. “But one stat we’re proud of is that this is our fifth straight 20-win season. That’s unbelievably hard to do. That shows consistency from the players and the whole program in general. It’s a testament to all of the good players we’ve had and the things that Lorain does. But we’re gunning for the tournament. These guys have looked forward to it for a while now and these guys will be ready.”
The Titans immediately pounced on the Tigers (13-9, 7-5), jumping out to a 15-1 lead thanks largely to Jackson and Benejan — who combined for nine points during the opening stretch, all from 3-point range.
Jackson made his on the second possession and Benejan connected on back-to-back possessions to force a Warrensville Heights timeout.
“We’ve been working on coming out stronger,” said Benejan, who finished with 17 points. “In previous games, we’ve been coming out a little weak in the beginning. We wanted to come out with a strong start to be more prepared for the tournament.”
Warrensville Heights cut the deficit to six midway through the second quarter when Benejan struck again — hitting layups sandwiched between a Tigers’ field goal to help push the lead back out to eight.
Brandon Rush and Ramelle Arnold did everything they could to pull Warrensville Heights back in it. Rush dropped in six points in the third quarter and 10 of his team-high 18 in the second half, while Arnold contributed 10 total, six in the second half. The pair combined for 12 of the Tigers’ 16 points in the third.
Grant rode to the rescue, though. The senior exploded for 15 points in the second half, leading all scorers with 28 while going 10-of-11 at the free throw line.
Grant had an answer seemingly every time Rush and Arnold made something happen in the third. And in the fourth, Jackson and Benejan combined for 10 points as Lorain kept the Tigers in a double-digit deficit for most of the final stretch.
“We knew going into the game that Pierre-Louis was hot, but tonight he really couldn’t get it going so we knew we had to step up,” said Jackson, who finished with 12 points. “Knowing that coach Rositano trusts us to be able to step up when Grant or Pierre-Louis or somebody isn’t getting it going or the other team is denying them the ball or something. He trusts me and Deonte to be able to be a scoring threat.”
While Pierre-Louis didn’t string together a dominant game, he still managed to score 14 points with a game-high nine rebounds. But seeing Jackson and Benejan step into a larger offensive role is an encouraging sign for Lorain as it gets ready for the tournament.
“Jordan Jackson has been steady all year,” Rositano said. “We know we’re going to get 10 to 12 points, six to eight rebounds. He’s a model of consistency and he’s got to continue that. But what I’m most happy about is Benejan got going offensively. We’re going to need him come tournament time to hit some big baskets for us. We’re counting on that and we expect it.”
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @CSweeneyCT on Twitter.
Lorain 75, Warrensville Heights 60
LORAIN (75): Jordan Jackson 5-0-12, Deonte Benejan 7-0-17, Taevon Pierre-Louis 6-2-14, Devon Grant 8-10-28, Kam Davis 0-2-2, Aaron Whitehead 1-0-2, Aiden Brown 0-0-0. Totals 27-14-75.
WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS (60): Ramelle Arnold 4-1-10, Kaylin Heard 5-0-10, Daivon Porter 0-0-0, Omahn Dobbins 3-0-7, Brandon Rush 7-3-18, Deangelo Bell 1-0-2, Keith Harris 2-0-5, Aundray Farmer 0-0-0, Anthony Wright 3-0-8. Totals 25-4-60.
Lorain 21 15 16 23 — 75
Warrensville Heights 11 18 16 15 — 60
Three-point goals: Lorain 7-17 (Benejan 3, Grant 2, Jackson 2), Warrensville Heights 6-21 (Wright 2, Arnold, Dobbins, Harris, Rush). Field goals: Lorain 27-54 (50 percent), Warrensville Heights 25-48 (52 percent). Free throws: Lorain 14-15 (93 percent), Warrensville Heights 4-8 (50 percent). Rebounds: Lorain 23 (Pierre-Louis 9), Warrensville Heights 21 (Arnold 5). Total fouls: Lorain 17, Warrensville Heights 14. Turnovers: Lorain 10, Warrensville Heights 12.
Junior varsity: Lorain, 60-44