BRUNSWICK — Elyria’s girls basketball team nearly left town with a come-from-behind victory over Northeast Ohio Conference River Division foe Brunswick on Wednesday night.
The win would’ve been an early Christmas present, one that veteran coach Mike Walsh didn’t think his squad deserved.
“It’s Christmas time and I guess we were thinking about Santa,” Walsh said after his team’s 53-48 loss to the Blue Devils. “We flat out got the snot kicked out of us. They were more focused and ready to play than we were.”
Trailing by as much as 19 points early in the third quarter, the Pioneers (3-3, 1-2 NOC) nearly staged a holiday miracle by chipping the lead down to three late in the fourth quarter, before the host Blue Devils (6-2, 2-1) sealed the win at the free throw line.
“Give them credit, Brunswick was focused, outplayed us and deserved to win,” Walsh said. “If we would’ve came all the way back and won, it would’ve been a shame because we didn’t deserve it.”
Behind the hot shooting of junior guard Simone Christian, who finished with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, Elyria made it interesting to say the least in the final two quarters.
After falling behind 32-13 in the opening minutes of the third, Christian made four of her six 3-pointers — one was an off-balance make from the top of the key — and accounted for 15 of the team’s 19 in the quarter to pull within eight.
Christian’s baskets allowed the Pioneers to do something they couldn’t to that point, pressure the Blue Devils’ young guards.
Both teams traded baskets to open the fourth before a layup by Alexis Roseboro and a steal and layup in transition by Bergen Read, who finished with nine points and a team-high seven rebounds, cut the deficit to 43-39 with 6:17 left.
Elyria crawled within three with under three minutes to go, before the Blue Devils made seven of eight free throws to end the Pioneers’ hopes.
“That was the worst effort of the year,” Walsh said. “We were not ready, not focused … there is just nothing positive or good I can say.”
Brunswick’s 6-foot-4 center, Gabrielle Bulic, proved too much for the Pioneers to handle as the junior not only scored 16 points and ripped down 13 rebounds, but also blocked six shots and altered a handful of others to keep Elyria operating its offense from the arc instead of going to the basket.
Small forward Erica Eubank and backup guard Brianna Miss added 10 apiece for the Devils, many of which came in the team’s run that pushed a 12-point halftime lead out to 19.
It was an effort that Walsh knows his team must fix heading into the New Year as they face a two-game deficit in the River Division standings.
“We weren’t ready,” he said. “There was no effort defensively, no effort offensively and we just didn’t want to be here. We had other things on our minds that were more important.
“We’ve played hard the last five games and tonight we just weren’t there. Unfortunately for us this puts us in a big hole in the league. We picked the wrong night to take a night off.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.