ELYRIA — It was the age-old basketball battle: Quickness versus size.
On Friday, quickness won out as Elyria advanced to tonight’s Lorain County Holiday Classic final by defeating Vermilion 66-60. The Pioneers, two-time defending champs, will take on their old-time Buckeye Conference and Erie Shore rival Sandusky, a 64-53 victor over Admiral King. This is the 10th year of the tournament.
“We told them before the game,” said Elyria coach Bob Walsh, “put pressure on them. Don’t try to steal it. Just put pressure on. Make them turn the ball over but don’t reach for it.”
“We rushed everything,” said Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl. “We like to play quick, but we were playing too fast. We were trying to make a pass or trying to get a shot off before we could catch the basketball.”
“We tried to make good switches on defense,” said point guard Promis Cabbil, who came up with 17 points and a handful of assists on the offensive end. “That helped us a lot with the type of pressing defense we played.”
“(The Sailors) were big,” said Seryrell Davis, who also scored 17 points and pulled in 10 rebounds for Elyria. “We had to board up (with them). Coach told us to play hard. Coach said we had the advantage with our quickness. We had to come up with the steals and turnovers.”
Turnovers were the Sailors’ undoing. Eight in the first quarter, 11 in the second, a half-dozen in the third and seven more in the final quarter added up to way too many for Vermilion to have any chance of winning. It took away the one area the Sailors had the advantage in – rebounding.
“We showed a little bit of our youth,” Habermehl said. “We have only two seniors and a lot of kids who haven’t played a lot of varsity basketball. But, I’m proud of them. They put themselves in a position to win the basketball game.”
Vermilion battled back from a 41-34 deficit with five minutes left in the third quarter to take a 50-45 lead a minute into the final quarter. The Sailors used their height and size to their advantage with stick-backs and strong play inside. Only Davis and Mykel Williams stood over 6-foot-4 for Elyria, and Travis Noble, the Pioneers other ‘big man’ at 6-2, was sidelined for disciplinary reasons. Everyone else Walsh employed was under the 6-foot mark.
“We thought we had a little bit of an advantage inside,” Habermehl said. “If we could get it to our post players and take advantage of it a little bit and finish off inside because of (Elyria’s) lack of size but we had a couple balls roll in and out. That happens.”
Vermilion, with four players listed at 6-4 or better, did a good job once it got the ball inside. Three of them – Derek Barbato, Tim Clark and Derek Hoebing — finished in double-figure scoring and five players corralled at least four rebounds, led by Clark with nine.
“We seemed to be a little nervous playing in front of a big crowd,” said Demetrius Dalton, Elyria’s leading scorer with 21 points. “We got a little frustrated that (Vermilion) was keeping up with us. Coach kept telling us to calm down and play straight.”
Elyria did just that down the stretch. The Pioneers got to the foul line more and more as the game wore on. Elyria took 19 foul shots in the final quarter, sinking 13, and pulled in 10 rebounds – five by Davis – in the fourth quarter to just seven for the Sailors. To that point, Vermilion had twice as many rebounds, 34-17.
“Coming into this year, we weren’t sure Seryrell would bang on the boards,” Walsh said. “We knew we’d be outsized by most of the teams we play. He’s shown me I’ve got nothing to worry about. He’ll stick his nose in there.”
Sandusky represents the third different team the Pioneers have faced in the title game. Elyria defeated King last year and Vermilion two years ago. The Pioneers are hoping for their seventh crown in the 10 years of the tournament.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
VERMILION (60): Andy Pena 2-5-9, Mike Liljigren 2-1-5, Derek Barbato 3-8-14, Tim Clark 5-1-11, Derek Hoebing 5-0-10, Justin Turner 2-1-5, Nick Farley 2-0-6, Kyle Herchler 0-0-0. Totals 21-16-60.
ELYRIA (66): Promis Cabbil 6-5-17, Demetrius Dalton 6-6-21, Rayshawn Camel 0-0-0, Seryrell Davis 7-3-17, Mykel Williams 2-0-4, Alex McKenna 2-0-4, Ricky Smallwood 0-0-0, Michael Higginbotham 1-0-3, John Yeaples 0-0-0. Totals 24-14-66.
Vermilion 12 18 17 13 — 60
Elyria 9 23 11 23 — 66
Three-point goals: Vermilion 2-7 (Farley 2). Elyria 4-9 (Dalton 3, Higginbotham). Field Goals: Vermilion 21-47 (45 percent). Elyria 24-59 (41percent). Free Throws: Vermilion 16-23 (70 percent). Elyria 14-23 (61 percent). Rebounds: Vermilion 41 (Clark 9), Elyria 27 (Davis 10). Turnovers: Vermilion 32, Elyria 20. Fouls: Vermilion 19, Elyria 22. Fouled Out: Williams, Camel. Technical Foul: Elyria Bench.
Junior Varsity: Elyria 69-50.