Jason Smith gets first win as Elyria Catholic coach

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Elyria Catholic's Xavier Bennett, front pulls down a rebound away from Vermilion's Forrest Boyd And Ryan Miller in the fourth quarter last night.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Elyria Catholic's Xavier Bennett, right, lays in two points over Vermilion's Ross Lewis in the fourth quarter.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Elyria Catholic's Tyler Riddell lays in two points on a break away in the fourth quarter last night.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Elyria Catholic's Xavier Bennett, right, lays in two points over Vermilion's Ross Lewis in the fourth quarter.

ELYRIA — Elyria Catholic first-year head coach Jason Smith knew coming into the game against Vermilion that his team needed to step up on the defensive end if IT expected to leave with a win.

His team responded with a stellar performance on both ends, holding the Sailors to 54 points en route to a 74-54 victory, his first as a head coach.

“It feels great to get that first W out the way.” Smith said. “Its great to have nine players I know I can count on at all times on the court, this was definitely a team win.”

Vermilion got off to a fast start, scoring four points within the first 30 seconds. From there on out, it was all Panthers.

Putting on a 3-point clinic early on, the Panthers turned that 4-0 deficit into a 19-10 lead.

In the first quarter Elyria Catholic made 4 of 5 from long distance, with four different players getting in on the action.

Senior Daniel Whitacre led the Panthers’ offensive surge early on, scoring nine of Elyria Catholic’s first 15 points.

After the game Whitacre, who finished with 11 points, looked past his offensive performance and talked about the defensive end.

“It was great to get our first win of the year and we did it with our defense,” Whitacre said/ “We have been giving up far too many points the past few games so it was nice to hold a good team to just 54.”

Elyria Catholic used a ton of half-court pressure to keep Vermilion from getting into any type of rhythm throughout the night.

Vermilion standout Cameron Kuhn finished with 15 points, but every basket he made was a tough shot and he never seemed to get into a comfort zone.

The Panthers knew that was a key to beating the Sailors.

“We tried to apply a lot of half-court pressure to keep the ball out of Kuhn’s hands.” Smith said. “We know what he is capable of doing and I thought my guys did a really good job of limiting him tonight.”

The Sailors’ best push came at the start of the second half.

Trailing 36-20 Vermilion came out on a tear, scoring eight quick points to cut the lead to single digits at 36-28.

Forrest Boyd led the attack, scoring six straight points to open the half.

Unfortunately for the Sailors that would be the closest they would get.

After a Panthers timeout they went on a 6-0 run of their own to push the lead back up to 44-28.

Vermilion made a few more small pushes but every time they started to make up ground, EC went on a run of its own.

Smith was very impressed with the way his team managed the runs.

“It was a game of runs tonight for sure,” Smith said. “I am very proud of the way my guys responded each time Vermilion ran off a few scores. If we can play defense and be persistent like that more often, we can become a scary team.”

The Panthers were led in scoring by senior Tyler Riddell, who scored a team-high 18 points, including four 3-point baskets.

Riddell helped seal the game in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 straight points to push the lead to 20 and all but end any hope the Sailors may have had.

Vermilion was paced by Boyd and Kuhn, who finished with 19 and 15 points, respectively.

The Sailors now drop to 2-1 after a great start last weekend with back-to-back wins.

It was the first win of the year for the Panthers who now improve to 1-2 early on in a season where they have a new head coach and are missing their top player (Jeremy Holley) due to injury.

Despite all that, Smith knows if his team performs on both ends the way it did Friday night, it will be okay.

“I mean if we can play defense like that consistently night in and night out, watch out,” Smith said. “We definitely don’t have any problem scoring the ball so we have to hang our hat on the defensive end this season.”

Elyria Catholic 74, Vermilion 54

West Shore Conference

Elyria Catholic — Cory Strasko 3-0 6, Angelo Cruz 1-0 3, Daniel Whitacre 5-0 11, D.J. Graham 2-0 5, Tyler Riddell 8-0 18, Conner Riddell 1-0 3, John Stursa 3-6 12, Ceeven Shelton 0-5 5, Xavier Bennet 4-0 8. TOTALS 27-11 74.

Vermilion — Forest Boyd 9-1 19, Kyle Nader 2-0 4, Austin Kazmer 2-0 4, Ryan Miller 2-0 4, Cameron Kuhn 5-5 15, Zach Myracle 2-0 4, Seth Conrad 1-0 2. TOTALS 24-6 54.

3-Point Goals — EC: Cruz, Graham, Riddell (4), C. Riddell.

Score By Quarters

Elyria Catholic (1-2) 22 14 16 22 — 74

Vermillion(2-1) 11 9 16 18 — 54

Team Statistics

Field Goals — Elyria Catholic 27 of 51 ( 53 percent), Vermilion 24 of 53 (45 percent).

Free Throws — EC 11 of 16 (68 percent), V 6 of 13 (44 percent).

Rebounds — EC 34, V 27.

Turnovers — EC 10, V 17.


Last Updated: 12/8/2012 12:00:17 AM EST

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