The following recap was written by Todd Shapiro of The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.
ELYRIA —Josie Carandang and Riley Schill spent their entire high school careers waiting for Thursday (Feb. 25) — the day they could finally call themselves district champions.
Top-seeded Elyria Catholic rolled to the Division II Elyria district championship with a 49-38 win over No. 3 seed Padua at Elyria High.
Carandang and Schill, both seniors, were a big reason why.
Carandang scored all 11 of her points in a three-minute stretch late in the first and early in the second quarters, while Schill finished the night with eight points and 10 rebounds as the Panthers built a 32-20 halftime lead.
“I was not going home tonight with a loss,” Schill said. “I’ve experienced that the last three years and I hate that feeling.”
Elyria Catholic (23-3) is headed back to the regional tournament for the first time since 2011. The Panthers will face Cortland Lakeview in a semifinal Tuesday (March 1) night at 8:00 p.m. at Barberton High School. The Bulldogs, the No. 1 seed in the Austintown district, defeated Warren Howland 47-40 to win their district championship.
“When this group came in as freshmen you think maybe you get there a couple of times, to a regional game,” Panthers coach Eric Rothgery said. “It’s hard to do. It’s not an easy task. You’ve got to work hard and you’ve got to get a little lucky along the way. I’m just thrilled for all of the girls on this team because they’ve worked so hard over the past couple of years to get to this point.”
The Panthers defense rose to the occasion Thursday, holding Padua to just one field goal in both the second and third quarters. EC led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter before the Bruins (17-8) went on a 7-0 run to end the game.
“I thought we came out really well, then we had some breakdowns defensively and we just couldn’t find the bottom of the bucket,” Padua coach Dan Brown said. “Credit to EC, they’re a heck of a team. They made a ton of open shots. They’re going to go far. I’m proud of my team. We have a lot of young kids and just to get back to this point is a great accomplishment.”
Bruins junior guard Elena Rauhe led all scorers with 18 points, including five three-pointers, before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
“I can’t even describe how it feels right now. I can’t even calm down,” Carandang said after helping her teammates cut down the nets. “This is everything I was hoping it would be and more. I can’t even talk about how excited we are to move on.”
While it was Carandang’s shooting streak that turned a two-point game into a double-digit rout, she gave all of the credit to her team’s defense.
“I just happened to put some in and once we got some shots down the defense really amped up and we wanted to get stops,” Carandang said. “We switched on screens really well and we got all the rebounds.”
The Panthers had a 41-26 rebounding edge.
Elyria Catholic sophomore Megan Scheibelhut led the team with 13 points.
“We knew we were going to have a size advantage and that we had to hit the boards and limit them to one shot,” Rothgery said. “Defensively we got up on them and played solid man defense, nothing tricky. We went back to what has always worked for us.”
Elyria Catholic will take an 11-game winning streak into the regional tournament.