The following recap was written by Bob Daniels of The Chronicle-Telegram.
ELYRIA — Rocky River got out to a fast start against Elyria Catholic in the Coliseum on Wednesday night.
But nothing will extinguish early momentum like a big turnaround, like the one the Panthers put together for a 50-37 Great Lakes Conference victory on Wednesday (Jan. 6) night.
After allowing the Pirates to jump out to a quick 6-0 lead, the Panthers surrendered just 11 more points the rest of the first half and they led by 13 at the break as senior Josie Carandang scored nine points.
Elyria Catholic fans might have wondered if the Panthers were distracted early on, perhaps looking ahead to their big GLC home game against undefeated Bay on Saturday afternoon.
Panthers guard Riley Schill, who scored a game-high 15 points, said that wasn’t the case.
“We tried not to, but I know that’s something that happens,” Schill said. “You can’t take Rocky River lightly. They’re a good team, a big school and they’ve got some talent. So we focused tonight and we’re glad we got the win.”
Rocky River led in the first two minutes on two field goals by junior Maxine Nicholson and another by sophomore Bridget McCue. But Elyria Catholic senior Josie Carandang answered with a three-pointer and two close-range baskets as the Panthers fashioned a 15-9 lead after eight minutes. Sophomore Megan Scheibelhut also had a three-pointer in the quarter.
Schill, a 5-foot-7 senior, scored her first six points in the second quarter, and her freshman sister, Regan, hit a basket and foul shot, treating the Panthers (8-2, 3-1 GLC) to a 30-17 lead at the half.
“We made a lot of turnovers at the beginning, so at halftime we tried to tell everyone to slow it down and make extra passes, because I thought a lot of times we missed the extra pass for an easy shot,” Riley Schill said. “We started playing better in the second half.”
The Panthers’ lead was 39-25 after three quarters and, despite a 7-2 run by the Pirates (6-4, 3-2) early in the fourth, Elyria Catholic got seven more points from Riley Schill, who created the final score in the last minute.
Part of the Panthers’ turnaround was their improved rebounding in the second quarter.
“A lot of basketball games are won on second shots,” Elyria Catholic coach Eric Rothgery said. “So you want to play hard on the boards and we try to stress that with the girls. We stress it in practice and the pre-game. Second shots are what wins and I thought we did a better job of it.
“They came out and knocked down a few shots early, but we held them to, I think, 11 points over the next 14 minutes. That’s a pretty good defensive effort. We had to prevent the girls from looking past Rocky River, because Rocky River is a very good team. But I think Bay was a little bit on their mind.”
Pirates coach Dave Murphy said his Pirates didn’t play a “smart game.”
“We didn’t play with any grit,” he said. “We seemed to let them do what they wanted to do and missing our best player (senior Lucy Grierson, out with a concussion) is no excuse. It seemed like we just went through the motions.”