ELYRIA - What began as a blowout turned into a girls basketball thriller in the Elyria High gym Saturday night.
Elyria built an 18-point lead in the second quarter, saw Admiral King trim it to a single point late in the third, but held on to win its own Lorain County Holiday Classic, 61-53.
It was a Holiday Classic classic. The Pioneers have never lost a game in the nine-year history of the tournament.
Elyria`s Honesty King tied her own single-game scoring record with 34 points, giving her 59 for the two-game tournament. She had 25 against Vermilion on Friday.
When King buried an exceptionally long three halfway through the second period, it gave the Pioneers a 33-15 lead and brought Elyria fans to their feet. At that point, she had personally outscored the Admirals by six points.
"I wasn`t expecting to tie the record," King said. "It just happened."
Good thing. The Pioneers needed every one of her points. From the time she hit the long
3-pointer, Elyria went more than four minutes without scoring. That gave the Admirals a chance to shave nine points off the deficit and they trailed just 33-24 at the break.
Elyria got the lead back to 13 points in the first minute of the third quarter, but the Admirals went on a 17-5 tear. During the run, Ivory Smith nailed three straight 3-pointers in just over a minute and a half. And when Shalanda Harvey made a layup with less than two minutes to play in the period, the Pioneers` lead was 42-41.
"I turned around to my assistants and said, â€˜We just blew a 20-point lead,`" said Pioneers coach Mike Walsh. "But when it got to that point, we seemed to switch and made some really good decisions after that. We could have totally panicked. I told them, â€˜Last year we would have totally panicked. We had 11 losses last year and eight of them we were winning in the fourth quarter.`"
Admirals coach Cheryl Bansek was happy with the way her team bounced back.
"I am so proud of these kids. If they play like this, they`ll never lose another game," she said. "They played the second half at a high level of intensity. But coming back from an 18-point deficit. The character. Oh, my gosh. The whole level of play picked up. The communication and everything."
But the Admirals never quite caught up. Elyria extended the lead to 47-41 when Tess Sito went coast-to-coast for a layup 30 seconds into the fourth quarter. The Pioneers` King scored four points and Brigett Jones three late in the period for a 57-50 Elyria lead with less than 40 seconds to play. Jones and Tai Dotson also had several key rebounds in the late going.
"Tai Dotson inside changes some things," Walsh said. "Bridgett Jones on the boards, you know, she got some huge rebounds down the stretch. I mean, she fought for them."
Elyria`s Sito finished with 12 points and was the only other Pioneer to score in double figures. Smith scored 13 and Dominique Higginbotham 10 for the Admirals.
Named to the all-tournament team were King and Sito of Elyria; Admiral King`s Harvey and Higginbotham; Taylor Bell of Keystone, and Vermilion`s Anne Hamilton.
ADMIRAL KING (37): Derekia Mahone 1-2-4, Jillian VanWagnen 0-0-0, Sharde Little 1-5-7, Dominique Higginbotham 5-0-10, Shalanda Harvey 4-0-8, Sheral Robinson 1-0-2, Kinesia Thorpe 1-4-7, Ivory Smith 5-0-13. Totals 19-11-53.
ELYRIA (64): Kourtney Schweitzer 0-0-0, Kassandra Messenger 0-1-1, Charnele Oliver 2-1-5, Honesty King 12-7-34, Brigette Jones 1-2-4, Tai Dotson 2-1-5, Tess Sito 6-0-12, Kristen Burrey 0-0-0. Totals 23-12-61.
Admiral King Â Â Â 8Â Â Â 16Â Â Â 17Â Â Â 12Â Â Â - Â Â Â 53
ElyriaÂ Â Â 22Â Â Â 11Â Â Â 12Â Â Â 16Â Â Â - Â Â Â 61
Three-point goals: Admiral King 4-13 (Smith 3, Thorpe); Elyria 3-6 (King 3). Field goals: Admiral King 19-76 (25 percent); Elyria 23-58 (40 percent). Free throws: Admiral King 11-18; Elyria 12-21.Â Rebounds: Admiral King 34; Elyria 47. Turnovers: Admiral King 21, Elyria 34. Fouled out: Mahone.