ELYRIA — It ought to be illegal to tag a top-seeded team’s 20-point victory over a sub-.500 opponent as borderline miraculous. But it’s almost justifiable in the case of Elyria Catholic’s 47-27 Division III sectional final win over Lutheran West on Saturday.
The Panthers (18-5) rolled despite missing three of every four field-goal attempts, more than half of their 22 foul shots, and 23 of 26 shots from outside the 3-point arc.
So how did they do it? The fact is, the Longhorns held EC scoring leader Riley Schill to one basket and four points, and the always dangerous Josie Carandang to a single 3-point basket.
The Panthers did it with a defense that produced even more anemic field-goal shooting by the Longhorns and held them to single-digit scoring in every quarter. EC also earned a devastating 54-26 advantage on the backboards.
And the Panthers flashed the kind of depth that saw freshman post Jessie Lee score a game-high 16 points and collar 18 rebounds, and sophomore Julia Scarpelli score 14 points and perform strong work defensively and in her back-side rebounding.
Scarpelli said the Panthers’ defense has improved as communication among the players has improved.
“We tell each other when to rotate, when to help out,” she said. “Our boxing out (on the backboards) has also gotten pretty good. Our whole team has the idea we don’t want (the season to end), and I know back-side rebounding is my job, where I can sneak in, get some easy points and help the team out however I can.”
It’s a Panthers positive that Lee’s 18 rebounds were not her season best. She came away with 23 in EC’s non-conference win at Lutheran West on Dec. 16.
“I think today, especially, we were fast on our feet and we talked a lot on defense,” Lee said. “If our outside shots weren’t working, we hit the boards down low and we got a lot of putbacks, which help a lot.
“The past couple games, I haven’t been doing very well,” Lee added. “But my coaches worked with me in practice, making sure that I’m using my legs; that I explode up and jump, and not lobbing my shots up there.”
With the victory, EC advances to a North Ridgeville district semifinal game at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The opponent will be either third-seeded Beachwood or Kirtland, who met in another sectional final Saturday night at Beachwood. Lutheran West finished the season 7-16.
The game was never close after EC led 7-5 late in the first quarter. The Panthers engineered an 11-1 run that took up five minutes of the second period on their way to a 25-12 halftime lead. They led by 17 points after three quarters and won the fourth, 11-8.
“We wanted to get the ball into the ‘bigs’ and we wanted the ‘bigs’ to attack the hoop,” Panthers coach Eric Rothgery said. “We knew we had a size advantage. Obviously, Jessie Lee had a nice game and Julia Scarpelli is a tremendous athlete. She’s so doggone smart. She’s so sneaky. She’s always on the back side. I’ve coached kids for 15 years and I’ve always preached, ‘Get to the back side, get to the back side.’ Very few really grasp that, but Julia knows where to be. We’ve got a nice balanced team.
“We told the girls at the beginning of the year that everybody was saying if they could hold down the scoring of Riley Schill and Josie Carandang, EC’s gonna get beat. We still scored quite a few points without them, so that’s a good thing for us.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Elyria Catholic 47, Lutheran West 27
LUTHERAN WEST (27): Kimmy Evans 0-0-0, Abby DeSimpelare 2-2-7, Allison Albers 0-0-0, Alex Mercado 1-0-2, Katelyn Thornton 1-5-7, Carey Smith 3-0-6, Olivia Vasiloff 0-0-0, Maddie Thomas 0-0-0, Maddie Jakabcic 1-0-2, Lydia Hessler 0-1-1, Claire Gutheil 1-0-2. Totals 14-10-46.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (47): Julia Scarpelli 5-4-14, Josie Carandang 1-0-3, Rachel Cairns 0-0-0, Riley Schill 1-2-4, Adrianna Davies 1-0-2, Sam Filiaggi 0-0-0, Nora Hopkins 3-0-8, Meredith Ternes 0-0-0, Margot Novak 0-0-0, Becky Horvath 0-0-0, Natalie Tremont 0-0-0, Jessie Lee 6-4-16, Megan Janowicz 0-0-0. Totals 28-13-75..
Lutheran West 7 5 7 8 – 27
Elyria Catholic 12 13 11 11 – 47
Three-point goals: Lutheran West 1-4 (DeSimpelare); Elyria Catholic 3-26 (Hopkins, Carandang). Field goals: Lutheran West 9-40 (22.5 percent); Elyria Catholic 17-74 (22.9 percent). Free throws: Lutheran West 8-14; Elyria Catholic 10-22. Rebounds: Lutheran West 26; Elyria Catholic 54. Turnovers: Lutheran West 25; Elyria Catholic 16.