The following recap was written by Todd Shapiro of The Chronicle-Telegram.
PARMA HEIGHTS — Elyria Catholic wrote one word on its blackboard prior to Friday’s Great Lakes Conference battle at Holy Name.
It turned out to be fitting because when the game was on the line the Panthers proved to be as tough as nails and fans surely spent most of the night biting their nails.
EC senior Jake Kuchta’s three-pointer with 3.6 seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime and Elyria Catholic came from behind to defeat the Green Wave, 85-81.
Kuchta was held to five points over the first three quarters but rose to the occasion at the most opportune time, calmly ball-faking to force a Holy Name defender out of position before rising up to drain the game-tying three-pointer.
Kuchta then scored 13 of the Panthers’ 16 points in the extra period to finish with 21.
“I knew what the team needed so I came out really determined,” he said. “As soon as I released that shot I knew it was going in. My teammates really stepped up the whole game. We really needed this win. We’re tied for first place with Bay and if we lost this game it would have been an uphill battle the rest of the way.”
Sophomore Dorian Crutcher, who led the team with 25 points, got EC (12-4,7-1 GLC) off to a quick start with three three-pointers in the opening 2:11 as the Panthers took a 12-3 lead.
In the third quarter, it was senior Brian Duffield who took control for the Panthers, scoring on three of their first second-half possessions.
The Green Wave (6-11, 3-5 GLC) rebounded from a seven-point halftime deficit to tie game at 52 at the end of the third quarter. Holy Name took its first lead of the night on a layup from sophomore Dwayne Cohill with 5:27 left in the fourth quarter. Cohill led all scorers with 28 points.
Holy Name led by three on a pair of occasions, the second time after Sean Hickey made a two free throws with 21.2 seconds left to put the Green Wave up 69-66.
“We’re a really composed team. We never panicked,” said Duffield, who finished with 15 points. “When we get ahead we like to keep pushing it, so it was a little frustrating that we let them back in the game. The advantage we have is that we’re such a solid team that anybody can get hot for us at any time. We don’t have to rely on one person.”
The Panthers improved to 5-0 this season in games decided by four points or less.
“I’m happy to see Jake come through in a tough situation but really I’m just so proud of our entire team,” said Phil Kuchta, Elyria Catholic’s coach and Jake’s father. “We had so many guys step up. Dorian Crutcher had an unbelievable game. He’s really coming into his own. Every one of our guys battled tonight.”
As for that word on the blackboard?
“What that word meant was we wanted to be tough as nails,” Coach Kuchta said. “We knew that’s what we had to be to get a league win on the road. And I think our guys did that tonight.”
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (85): Dorian Crutcher 10-0-25, Kevin Kelley 1-3-6, Brian Duffield 6-3-15, Sean Szabo 2-0-6, Doug Taylor 3-6-12, Jake Kuchta 5-10-21. Totals 27-22-85.
HOLY NAME (81): Brandon Styers 1-1-4, Ralph Vance 8-2-19, Nick Opincar 1-0-3, Sean Hickey 6-2-16, Joe Petrilla 2-0-5, Joe Carter 3-0-6, Dwayne Cohill 10-5-28. Totals 31-10-81.