ELYRIA — Find a way to advance.
That’s all that matters this time of the year, and despite not playing its best basketball, the Open Door Patriots did just that Friday night.
The Patriots withstood a valiant effort from the 11th-seeded Kidron Central Christian Comets, pulling away late for a 68-51 win in a Division IV sectional final.
Third-seeded Open Door (19-4) moves on to Tuesday’s district semifinals where it will take on Columbia, one of the few teams to beat the Patriots this season.
“We played really well at times, then we let up during certain parts of the game,” Open Door coach Todd Wright said. “I know we can play better but I’m generally pleased with what we did tonight.”
The final score is a bit deceiving since it was the Patriots’ biggest lead of the game.
Central Christian, though it never led, consistently made runs to stay in the game whenever it looked like Open Door might pull away.
The Comets (12-12) used a quick 6-0 fourth-quarter run to cut Open Door’s lead to 51-44 with less than six minutes remaining.
“We were able to get within seven but every time that happened they responded with a big play,” Central Christian coach Craig Martin said. “That’s a quality team over there.”
Showing confidence in his depth as he has all season, Wright decided to give his bench some big fourth-quarter minutes.
It paid off.
Still clinging to a seven-point lead, the Patriots got a Mason Wiley putback and a Josh Zaborowski deep 3-pointer to push their lead back to double digits.
“I have a ton of confidence in those guys and they came up with very big plays for us,” Wright said.
Zaborowski then scored on a runner and Jared Bublinec put the finishing touches on the game with a three followed by a reverse layup for a 64-49 lead.
“We had a few tough stretches but we were able to answer their big shots and come out with a good team win,” Bublinec said.
Miles Hunt set the tone early, scoring Open Door’s first five points and blocking two shots in the opening minutes of the game. His strong finish in traffic and three offensive rebounds helped spur a 5-0 first-quarter run.
Hunt had six points, five rebounds and two blocks in the first quarter as Open Door raced out a 24-7 lead.
“We had to come out and punch first at the beginning of the game,” Hunt said. “We did it on the defensive end and that was great to see.”
Following their sluggish opening quarter, Central Christian looked like an entirely different team in the second. The Comets opened with a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 29-22 with three minutes to go in the half.
Dylan Bonner knocked down two of his seven 3-pointers during the second quarter and finished with a game-high 27 points.
Open Door’s Gavin Dobbins matched Bonner’s hot shooting in the first half, knocking down three threes. Dobbins also had a big 3-pointer in the third quarter to end a Comets run and give Open door a 45-32 lead.
“They played us well but we have strong leadership and we found a way to win,” Dobbins said. “We all trust each other to hit shots and make plays when we need them.”
Bublinec led Open Door with 18 points, while Hunt had 15 and nine rebounds. Dobbins and Trey Brooks had 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Open Door shot a blistering 11-of-21 from three.
“We need games like this because it’s not going to get any easier as we go on,” Hunt said. “This will just help us be prepared for tough situations.”
Paul Williams at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open Door 68, Central Christian 51
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN (51): Reed Miller 1-0-2, Logan Schrock 3-0-6, Gage Haven 1-0-2, Liam Near 1-0-2, Isaac Troyer 3-2-8, Sam Otto 2-0-4, Dylan Bonner 10-0-27. Totals 21-2-51.
OPEN DOOR (68): Trey Brooks 4-0-10, Mark Yakobchuk 0-0-0, Caleb Daniel 0-0-0, Mason Wiley 1-0-2, Miles Hunt 7-1-15, Jared Bublinec 7-0-18, Carter Wright 2-0-4, Gavin Dobbins 4-0-12, Josh Zaborowski 2-0-5, Tyler Neadham 1-0-2. Totals 28-1-68.
Central Christian 7 16 16 12 — 51
Open Door 24 10 15 19 — 68
Three point goals: Central Christian 7-16 (Bonner 7), Open Door 11-21 (Dobbins 4, Brooks 2, Bublinec 4, Zaborowski). Free throws: Central Christian 2-7 (28 percent), Open Door 1-5 (20 percent). Total fouls: Central Christian 12, Open Door 11. Turnovers: Central Christian 14, Open Door 15.