ELYRIA -- Eric Rothgery has always been a humble guy when it comes to milestones.
On Saturday, Rothgery watched his Elyria Catholic girls win their home opener easily, 73-19 over Valley Forge, to give him his 201st career victory. His 200th came at Parma on Wednesday.
EC improved to 5-0, 3-0 in Great Lakes Conference play. The Patriots fell to 0-5, 0-3.
“We’ve had a lot of great players,” said Rothgery, now in his 11th season at EC. “You know, I look back on it now, Tory (his daughter Tory Rothgery) is coaching with me and that class of hers -- Tory and Emily (Taylor) and Ashley (Schuster) -- we had eight seniors on that team. I feel like that class kind of got the program going in the right direction.”
That 2011 team made it to state and came close to winning its semifinal game. This year’s group certainly has that same goal in mind after getting to the final four a year ago and returning four starters.
“Awesome,” senior point guard Faith Williams said when asked about Rothgery’s milestone moment. “I’m so happy he got his 200th win with us. He’s an amazing coach and that’s an amazing accomplishment.”
Saturday’s game was anything but stressful for EC or Rothgery. Elyria Catholic scored the first 11 points and held a 21-4 first-quarter advantage but kept with the game plan on both ends of the floor.
“That’s what we’re trying to impress upon them,” Rothgery said. “You just gotta continue to get better. Just because we’re better than another team doesn’t mean we don’t do the stuff we’re supposed to do. Try to run an offense, press for four possessions to start the game -- you gotta get a little practice at that, too. You just want to get back and play good half-court defense and do what you have to do on offense to get better.”
About the only concern for Rothgery was getting ample playing time for his bench while keeping his starters sharp for the challenges ahead. Even with the game well in hand, EC continued to play good defense and run its offense with organization. All 14 Panthers played.
The junior Winnen twins -- Ally and Abby -- combined for 27 points and 17 rebounds with Ally finishing with 14 points and nine boards. Williams led the scoring with 17 points while Annika Bredel scored 10 off the bench.
“This year we’re kind of focusing -- even if we’re up by however amount -- we have to stay to our specifics and what we know,” Ally Winnen said. “We just want to settle down and do our basics. We score off of that.”
“It’s hard to sometimes stay focused in games like this,” Abby Winnen said. “Our coaches insist we should run our offense not to get a good shot but to get a great shot. Our defensive principles don’t change no matter how good or bad a team we’re playing. We’re always going to play lockdown D (defense).”
Elyria Catholic 73, Valley Forge 19
Valley Forge (19): Jada Benjamin 0-0-0, Haley Onderak 3-3-9, Anaela Lett 0-0-0, Maria Ulery 1-0-2, Ashley Marchese 0-2-2, D’Naya Williams 0-0-0, Caroline Lambrix 0-0-0, Ava Workman 1-0-2, Kayla Kucera 0-0-0, Emily Beckner 2-0-4, Andrea Guerra 0-0-0. Totals 7-5-19.
Elyria Catholic (73): Faith Williams 7-1-17, Regan Schill 0-0-0, Abby Winnen 4-4-13, Kaylie Griffin 0-0-0, Ally Winnen 5-4-14, Stephanie Griffin 2-1-5, Smily Rapacz 1-0-2, Annika Bredel 3-4-10, Julia Allegretto 2-0-5, Lexi Hall 1-0-3, Shaniya Jackson 1-0-2, Skye Rawson 0-2-2, Lexi Szalai 0-0-0, Meghan Jancsura 0-0-0. Totals 26-16-73.
Valley Forge 4 2 4 9 — 19
Elyria Catholic 21 15 24 13 — 73
Three-point goals: Valley Forge 0-4, Elyria Catholic 5-13 (Williams 2, Abby Winnen, Allegretto, Hall). Field goals: Valley Forge 7-32 (22 percent), Elyria Catholic 26-59 (44 percent). Free throws: Valley Forge 5-14 (36 percent), Elyria Catholic 16-24 (66 percent). Rebounds: Valley Forge 28 (Williams 5), Elyria Catholic 37 (Ally Winnen 9). Turnovers: Valley Forge 35, Elyria Catholic 14. Fouls: Valley Forge 15, Elyria Catholic 16. Fouled out: Lett.
Junior varsity: Elyria Catholic, 47-26