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Rocky River vs. Elyria Catholic girls basketball: Panthers strip the nets in 78-43 win

By Matt Lofgren, For The Morning Journal
POSTED: 01/10/18, 10:06 PM EST

Every once in a while, a team just can’t miss and has a special performance.

Inside the Elyria Catholic Coliseum on Jan. 10, the Panthers had one of those performances as even down to the young bench players had a big game against Rocky River in a 78-43 win.

Panthers’ coach Eric Rothgery watched his defensive-minded group get into a rhythm on offense that they rarely jumped out of. Passing the ball with purpose, the assist totals grew as Elyria Catholic could do no wrong, no matter how tough the Pirates guarded them.

“Our emphasis in practice is always defense and our goal is to hold people to 40 or below and it didn’t look like we were going to get there in the firs half, but we were changing up the defenses a little bit and sometimes it gets confusing. We gave up some easy buckets, but they shot the ball real well in the first half,” Rothgery said. “I think they had five 3s in the first half and we did a better job of clamping down on that in the second half. But the ball movement the entire game was very good.”

In that second quarter, River made things interesting with the deep ball and climbed back from being down 18 at one point, to being down 37-27 just before the half. That would be as close as the Pirates would get, but Rocky River coach Elaine Hasek said her team did a great job of applying pressure the rest of the way. It was just Elyria Catholic’s night.

“Going into the second half, we just had to chip away because you don’t come back from a 10-point deficit just by hitting one shot,” Hasek said. “We really tried to focus on that, but, unfortunately, they couldn’t miss tonight.

“It was like the hoop was the ocean and they were just going fishing. It’s tough whenever the other team’s hitting so well and we’ve been off for 10 days and this was shaking the cobwebs off for us. So we just have to bounce back on Saturday.”

Getting the most out of the Panthers’ scoring outburst was junior Faith Williams, who finished with a game-high 17 points and dished out six assists.

“It felt good out there. This is the most points we’ve scored in a game all season and I feel like we were shooting the ball well and getting good shots up from moving the ball together,” Williams said. “That really just helped us get all of our points.”

While the offense was in high gear all game, the defense did its job closing down the lane with twin post-players Ally and Abby Winnen, who scored 14 and 8 points respectively, and forcing River to kick out almost every pass or have it turned over.

“I thought in the second half the effort was good. In the first half, we were losing our position a little bit and we can make up for it based on our size and length sometimes. but River exploited it first half,” Rothgery said. “I don’t think we’ve given up 27 points in the first half, so it was a nice effort by them, but we talked about it at halftime and adjusted what we needed to do and I thought the girls’ effort in the second half was really good.”

In all, 11 different players scored for the Panthers in the win as they will take on conference rival Bay on Jan. 13.