The Lady Panthers are in the Final Four for the first time since 2011 and they are two wins away from their first OHSAA State Championship.
Courtesy of Tim Gebhardt, The Chronicle-Telegram
Girls Basketball: Elyria Catholic into Final Four after overcoming rough start, knocking off unbeaten Chippewa
Tim Gebhardt | The Chronicle-Telegram
Published on March 10, 2018 | Updated 1:19 a. m
CUYAHOGA FALLS — To call Elyria Catholic’s start rocky was an understatement. It was boulder-y.
The Panthers scored four points in the first quarter and trailed Chippewa by nine early in the second quarter. They kept giving the ball away, committing 11 turnovers in the first half.
Against a Chippewa team that entered the Division III regional final undefeated.
The Panthers weren’t fazed. They didn’t flinch.
With a trip to the state Final Four on the line, they found their footing and stormed back. And when the buzzer sounded, they hugged and yelled and smiled from ear to ear.
Elyria Catholic knocked off Chippewa 46-36 on Saturday to win the regional. It will play in the state semifinals in Columbus for the first time since 2011.
“We’ve been in those situations before,” senior Megan Scheibelhut said. “We’ve been able to come back most of the time. We were just prepared more than they were. I knew I had to step up as a senior leader.”
EC (22-5) did it with defense, foul shooting and the ability to handle Chippewa’s pressure defense.
The Panthers were 16-of-19 at the free throw line. The Chipps, losing for the first time in 27 games, were 8-for-22.
Chippewa jumped out to a 13-4 lead early in the second quarter. At one point, EC was 0-4 from the field with five turnovers. The Panthers turned it over 11 times in the first half but managed to shake off the deficit to lead 18-16 at halftime.
After the nine-point deficit, EC scored 12 straight points.
“We knew we were going to do what we do,” coach Eric Rothgery said. “I don’t think the girls were in shock. They were down 7-0 and we kind of went back at it methodically. It’s always one basket at a time and you have to get defensive stops.”
The Panthers have always played tenacious defense and Saturday was no exception. Chippewa wasn’t able to fully take advantage of Elyria Catholic’s slow start.
“Defensively, I thought we were really good,” Rothgery said.
EC was coming off a three-overtime, heart-pounding win over Newton Falls on Wednesday. The Panthers will face Versailles (27-1) on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Ohio State’s Value City Arena. Versailles defeated state-ranked Waynesville 59-32 at Springfield High School.
Both the sophomore Winnens — Ally and Abby — had 10 rebounds. Ally blocked three shots and altered a few others. Abby was a force on defense, as well.
Scheibelhut, EC’s only senior starter, cleared seven boards. All three stand 6-foot-1 or better. Chippewa’s tallest player — Grace Lindquist — stands 6-foot even. The Panthers won the rebound battle 34-29.
“We knew we had a size advantage,” Ally Winnen said. “I took everything I could. I knew I had to be physical this game because (Lindquist) is a great player. We just executed well on offense.”
Lindquist led the Chipps with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Ally Winnen had a sequence in the early moments of the final quarter in which she picked up her third and fourth fouls in back-to-back plays — one offensive and the other underneath Chippewa’s basket — but the Panthers stuck to their game plan of pounding it inside. Ally Winnen scored 15 points, Scheibelhut 10 and junior Faith Williams 11.
“I just had had to smile,” Ally Winnen said. “Everything happens for a reason and those two fouls I just shook them off. I’m coming back. I’m not going to foul anymore. We got this.”
She was 5-of-7 from the foul line, Scheibelhut 6-of-6 and Abby Winnen 1-of-2. EC was 9-of-10 at the line in the fourth quarter. Chippewa was 1-for-8.
Another factor was Williams at point guard.
Not only did she, junior Regan Schill and Scheibelhut handle Chippewa’s press pretty well, Williams knocked down three 3-point shots in the second half at key times. Her first broke a tie at 20 and started EC on a 7-0 run. The Panthers never trailed again.
“I love those pressure shots,” said Williams, who also hit two free throws with 4:39 left to give the Panthers a 40-29 lead. “I like it when they doubt me a little bit, sit back and I hit them.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria Catholic 46, Chippewa 36
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (46): Faith Williams 3-2-11, Regan Schill 1-0-3, Abby Winnen 1-1-3, Megan Scheibelhut 2-6-10, Ally Winnen 5-5-15, Meghan Allegretto 0-0-0, Kanadee Bryant 0-0-0, Kaylie Griffin 1-0-2, Julia Allegretto 0-2-2. Totals 13-16-46.
CHIPPEWA (36): Katie Richardson 3-1-7, Celina Koncz 4-1-9, Samantha Storad 1-0-3, Grace Lindquist 4-2-11, Bailey Clark 1-4-6, Kierra Amelung 0-0-0, Bailee Ferrell 0-0-0. Totals 13-8-36.
Elyria Catholic 4 14 16 12 — 46
Chippewa 9 7 13 7 — 36
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic 4-8 (Williams 3, Schill), Chippewa 2-19 (Storad, Lindquist). Field goals: Elyria Catholic 13-30 (43 percent), Chippewa 13-47 (28 percent). Free throws: Elyria Catholic 16-19 (84 percent), Chippewa 8-22 (36 percent). Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 34 (Ally Winnen 10, Abby Winnen 10), Chippewa 29 (Lindquist 7, Clark 7). Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 22, Chippewa 14. Fouls: Elyria Catholic 20, Chippewa 16.