CLEVELAND — Elyria Catholic kept digging itself into a hole Tuesday night, and Villa Angela-St. Joseph was more than happy to bury the Panthers.
The Vikings, stymied by EC’s plodding pace during the first half, were let loose during the final two quarters and ran away with a 76-39 North Coast League victory.
“Our guys were executing the game plan well during the first half,” Panthers coach Alan Januzzi said. “Once (the Vikings) began hitting some of those big shots, we were forced to play their game in order to try to get back into it.”
Elyria Catholic (4-13, 1-9 NCL) began heaving full-court passes behind the VASJ press and scoring on some easy layups.
“I was happy to see them throwing the ball the length of the court,” Vikings coach Dave Wojciechowski said. “It started to speed the game up.”
The Panthers stayed in the game against the tall — the Vikings have nine players over 6-foot, including the starting front court of 6-7 Klein Harper and 6-8 Dominick Haynes) — athletic (VASJ finished with more steals, but fewer fouls and turnovers) and sharpshooting (point guard Nate Barnes hit five 3-pointers) Vikings by being deliberate with their offense and mixing up their defensive schemes.
“We knew they were going to pressure us on the perimeter so we had to be patient,” Januzzi said. “We had to wait and see if we could get some easy backdoor buckets, and we did.”
The Panthers trailed 13-7 after the first quarter and 24-16 at the half, and had the lead down to 19-15 late in the second quarter.
“They’re always a pesky team,” Wojciechowski said. “They play hard all the time and they do what they want to do out on the court.”
But it was VASJ (13-3, 10-0) that seemed to get its way after the break. The Vikings began running up and down the court, scoring on Barnes’ long bombs and getting layup after layup from their monstrous forwards.
Elyria Catholic scored 17 points to VASJ’s 24 in the third quarter, but the Vikings put up 28 points to the Panthers’ six in the fourth.
“We just didn’t have anything left there at the end,” Januzzi said.
The Panthers started racking up the fouls because they were short-handed — two players were out of the lineup with injuries — and they were tired from the explosive third quarter.
“We had five guys with four fouls,” Januzzi said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen on one of my teams.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VASJ 76, Elyria Catholic 39
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (39): Joe Januzzi 0-0-0, Cody Schuster 2-0-4, Adam Kirsch 2-0-4, Joe Fitch 5-3-14, Ryan Taylor 1-0-2, Kevin Fentner 5-3-13, Nick Ksenich 0-0-0, Spencer Roule 0-0-0, Paul Kubuski 1-0-2. Totals 16-6-39.
VASJ (76): Brian Jenkins 1-5-7, Jeff Albert 0-0-0, Neal Evers 0-0-0, Nate Barnes 5-2-17, Jevon Frazier 1-0-2, Ashen Ward 4-3-12, Scott Szczepinski 1-3-6, Clinton Brewer 3-0-6, Dan Goodrum 2-0-4, Bryan Morgan 3-1-7, Klein Harper 6-3-15, Dominick Haynes 0-0-0. Totals 26-17-76.
Elyria Catholic 7 9 17 6 — 39
VASJ 13 11 24 28 — 76
Three-point goals: (EC) Fitch. (VASJ) Barnes 5, Szczepinski, Ward. Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 30, VASJ 18. Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 22 (Fitch 5), VASJ 39 (Harper 9). Fouls: Elyria Catholic 25, VASJ 15. Fouled out: Kubuski.
Junior varsity: VASJ 55, Elyria Catholic 39.