ELYRIA — Taking care of the basketball is always the first commandment on the court.
Elyria managed to break that rule 31 times Tuesday night in losing to Lakewood, 67-57, in Northeast Ohio Conference play.
“Very ugly,” said Elyria coach Brett Larrick.
“We caused a lot of chaos out there,” said Lakewood coach Phil Argento. “Some of the chaos we were victims of ourselves at times, but in the fourth quarter (Elyria) continued to have serious turnover issues and we got more possessions.”
The Pioneers fell to 1-7 overall and 0-2 in league play. Lakewood is 3-4 and 1-1 in the NOC.
Elyria had a 47-44 lead following Chase Ferris’ rebound basket at the outset of the final quarter. The Pioneers outrebounded Lakewood by a whopping 50-24 margin, but turned the ball over more than a flapjack cook at IHOP.
“We’re not going to outrebound you to get more possessions, so we better cause a lot of chaos out there and take advantage of that,” said Argento. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”
The Pioneers treated the ball as if it were a foreign object at times — dribbling into traps, telegraphing passes and simply not taking good care of it. Lakewood scored a flock of easy baskets off the turnovers.
“That was our worst game taking care of the ball all year,” Larrick said. “We have to get stronger taking care of the ball. They steal the ball and get a layup, we throw it away and they get a layup, they get a tip for a layup, they get an outlet (pass) for a layup … our turnovers create points for them.
“Turnovers we create are travels, and we get the ball out of bounds and still have to work for (points). It’s the nature of playing hard. They force that ’cause they play so hard. It’s not Xs and Os — it’s us playing hard and taking care of the ball.”
The game was nip-and-tuck through three quarters but a couple of late Lakewood spurts doomed the Pioneers.
The Rangers scored eight unanswered points following Ferris’ putback to start the fourth quarter for a 52-47 lead. Elyria managed to trim it to 53-52 off Travis Noble’s steal, layup and free throw with just under three minutes left, but Lakewood pushed the lead back to 61-54 with an 8-2 run that was capped by Brian Wick’s three-point play off a turnover with 1:42 to go. Mike Cannon’s 3-pointer with 1:19 left sliced it to 61-57, but Lakewood closed the game hitting 6 of 8 free throws.
Will Rudolph and Ferris were monsters on the glass with 13 rebounds each. Rudolph — who didn’t even play organized basketball last year — scored a dozen points and had career highs in both scoring and rebounding. Cannon and Noble each scored 14 points. Devin Ross led Lakewood with 19 points and five rebounds. Brian Evans finished with 16 points and four boards.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Lakewood 67, Elyria 57
LAKEWOOD (67): Jay Toole 2-2-6, Brian Evans 6-4-16, Dan Shannon 2-1-7, Devin Ross 6-5-19, Ayoub Hamidah 2-1-5, Reuben Buckner 2-2-7. Totals 23-16-67.
ELYRIA (57): Mike Cannon 6-0-14, Eric Santo Domingo 1-2-4, Travis Noble 5-3-14, Matt Velazquez 0-0-0, Chase Ferris 2-2-6, Will Rudolph 5-2-12, Josh Brubaker 0-1-1, Brandon Mueller 0-0-0, Maurice Woods 3-0-6. Totals 22-10-57.
Lakewood 15 16 13 23 — 67
Elyria 16 16 13 12 — 57
Three-point goals: Lakewood 5 of 12 (Shannon 2, Ross 2, Buckner). Elyria 3 of 8 (Cannon 2, Noble). Field goals: Lakewood 23 of 57 (40 percent). Elyria 22 of 58 (38 percent). Free throws: Lakewood 16 of 25 (64 percent). Elyria 10 of 15 (66 percent).
Junior varsity: Lakewood 62-51.