The following recap was written by Bob Daniels of The Chronicle-Telegram.
ELYRIA — Folks figured it would be a battle when the girls basketball teams from Elyria Catholic and undefeated Bay squared off on Saturday (Jan. 9) with first place in the Great Lakes Conference at stake.
It was a battle and more as the Panthers dealt the Rockets a 47-46 loss, their first of the year, in a classic, physical overtime thriller.
With 4-1 conference records, EC (9-2) and Bay (11-1) are tied for the GLC lead, a game ahead of Rocky River.
The Panthers, who defeated River on Wednesday, and Rockets will meet again next month at Bay in a game that could decide the GLC title, while serving as a tune-up for a potential Division II district tournament showdown.
When the buzzer blared at the end of OT, EC’s Sam Filiaggi — who had just come away with a crucial steal in the final six seconds — had control of the ball at EC’s end of the court. The Panthers and their fans rejoiced loudly.
“I was put in situations like this last year, and I was never ready for it,” Filiaggi said. “But this year, I knew I had to do this for my team and I’m glad I contributed in some way. We came in thinking this was going to be like a playoff game, and this is the biggest game we’ve played so far. It was a big win for us. It was a fantastic win.”
It was also a battle of three-point field goals, which the Panthers won 9-7. With EC trailing 9-3 early, EC senior Josie Carandang hit back-to-back threes 20 seconds apart to tie it. And she nailed her third three of the day in the final 30 seconds of the first half, treating EC to a 22-21 lead at the break.
All the while, Carandang, who hadn’t been feeling well recently, was playing on blistered feet while also nursing painful shin splints.
“I’ve been sick the past couple days, but it was just one of those weird things where I was on,” Carandang said. “That one (three) was a bank shot, but I’ll take it. We’ve been focusing on this game for a long time. They came in undefeated and I can’t even talk about how much we wanted to beat them. We just executed better at the end.”
The Panthers’ Megan Scheibelhut, who also had a three-pointer in the first quarter, made three more in the second half, two in the third quarter and one in the fourth. The 6-foot-1 sophomore, who spends a lot of time in the post, went into the corners for her four 3-pointers and a game-high 16 points. She added two two-point baskets, one in overtime.
“I actually started shooting three-pointers at the end of eighth grade,” Scheibelhut said. “I got a few off last year, but not as much as this year. Every time I went to the corner, it seemed like I was open, so I’d just shoot it.”
It marked the most threes she has made in a varsity game.
Filiaggi scored the eventual winner on a drive to the basket with 23 seconds left in overtime. And the Schill sisters, senior Riley, who finished with 10 points, and freshman Regan, who scored one, each added a critical foul shot in the final 1:40 of regulation to give EC its 42nd and 43rd points. The game was tied at 43 after 32 minutes.
Panthers coach Eric Rothgery said the team felt Saturday’s game would come down to one important possession.
“It came true,” he said. “You know, sometimes it’s hard to put an average team away. It’s really hard to put a great team away. It got to the point where we’d be ahead by five or six, and they’d come down and bury a three or something. It’s a long season and you don’t want to make one game your big game. But this was big for us.”
Bay coach Brian Hill said his Rockets put themselves in a tough spot by not rebounding well.
“But I’m really proud of the girls,” he said. “We were down six points in the fourth quarter (39-33) and they came back to force overtime. Our girls are fighters, they’re so tough. We had a couple mistakes there at the end. We didn’t drop when we should have and let an easy basket win it. But I’m so proud of their effort.”
EC scoring v. Bay: Scheibelhut – 16 // Ri. Schill – 10 // Carandang – 9 // Filiaggi – 6 // Hopkins – 5 // Re. Schill – 1