The following recap was written by Sam Ameen of The Morning Journal:
Elyria Catholic’s unselfishness on offense and its lockdown defense was too much to handle for Garfield Heights as the Panthers beat the Bulldogs, 70-34, in non-conference play Monday (Feb. 1) night.
Elyria Catholic (16-3) had 15 assists on 27 field goals, led by six from senior point guard Riley Schill.
“We wanted to work on offensive execution and get some more people into the game, and I think we were able to accomplish a lot,” Elyria Catholic coach Eric Rothgery said. “Nobody got hurt, and we played pretty well.”
On eight field goal makes in the first quarter, six of the baskets came courtesy of assists. Junior Nora Hopkins, the game’s leading scorer, poured in six of her 15 points in the first quarter.
“It’s good (ball movement) because there are JV players coming off the bench, and you want them all to score and you always try to look for them,” Hopkins said. “It’s good to have other people score.”
Thirteen players scored for the Panthers. Senior Josie Carandang was the other player in double digits for Elyria Catholic — she had 10 points and was two out of three from three-point range.
Elyria Catholic was on cruise control after the first quarter as the Panthers took a 21-2 lead heading into the second. Garfield Heights’ Nyiera Conners scored the only basket in the quarter for the Bulldogs and it came with 1:59 to play.
Defensively, Elyria Catholic forced Garfield Heights to take low-percentage shots. The Bulldogs were 13 of 43 from the field and committed 19 turnovers.
Elyria Catholic took a 40-14 lead at halftime and led by as many as 44 at 58-14 in the third quarter on a two-pointer from freshman Regan Schill.
In addition to the win, it was a good way to start the week as Elyria Catholic claimed the No. 1 seed in the Division II Elyria District for the upcoming state tournament. The Panthers will host Fairview on Feb. 13. They chose to play in the sectional semifinal round instead of taking a bye.
“It’s always nice to get (the No. 1 seed), but after that, it doesn’t mean anything because you have to start winning games,” Rothgery said. “It allows you to pick where you want to be on the bracket early …
“We prefer to play (instead of opting out of a bye). I used to say under the old method I didn’t want to play someone who had a one-game winning streak on a floor I didn’t play on. But the way it works now, you have two home games, and it’s hard to pass up a home game.”
Elyria Catholic faces Bay on the road Wednesday (Feb. 3) night in a highly-anticipated game. Both teams are 9-1 in the Great Lakes Conference. If Elyria Catholic wins Feb. 3, it will claim the conference outright because the Panthers would own the tiebreaker. Elyria Catholic hosted Bay on Jan. 9 and won, 47-46, in overtime.
“We’ve been pointing toward this rematch against Bay. It was a good game the first time here, and we expect it to be all the same on Wednesday,” Rothgery said. “We’ve been really looking forward to it, and I think the girls will be focused.”