Lakewood Rangers down Elyria Catholic Panthers to clinch share of West Shore Conference

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Rangers guard Maggie Rowell, left, drives down court during the fourth quarter Saturday at Elyria Catholic High School.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Panthers forward Julia Scarpelli, center, throws a pass from her knees during the third quarter Saturday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Panthers forward Erin Herschelman, left, drives to the hoop during the third quarter Saturday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Rangers guard Megan Barrett chases a loose ball during the fourth quarter Saturday.

ELYRIA — It has been 17 years since the Lakewood Rangers girls basketball team has won a conference championship.

On Saturday afternoon the Rangers ended that streak, clinching at least a split of the conference title by beating Elyria Catholic, 50-38, in a match up of two of the top teams in the area.

“It’s a good day for the Lakewood basketball program.” Lakewood head coach Mike Harper said. “We haven’t won a conference title here since ’96, so it is a great feeling to be able to end that streak and start a new era.”

Lakewood now controls its own destiny. A win over Midview on Wednesday night will give the Rangers the conference title outright, a loss and they will split.

“It’s nice to be in the driver’s seat for the outright title, but we still have work to do.” Harper said. “In high school basketball anything can happen, so we have to be focused and ready to take care of Midview on Wednesday if we want this title outright.”

Both teams got off to a sluggish start to begin the game. Elyria Catholic jumped out to an early 4-3 lead but Lakewood came right back, using three Elyria Catholic turnovers to fuel an 8-0 run.

Trailing 15-6 to start the second quarter, the Panthers’ star post Karissa McGrath scored four points within the first minute to trim Lakewood’s lead to 15-10.

During the second quarter Elyria Catholic’s defense started to cause problems as well. After forcing just two turnovers in the first quarter, the Panthers forced seven in the second. Led by McGrath, Elyria Catholic scored 16 points in the second quarter and cut their deficit to just two, 24-22, at halftime.

“What can you say about McGrath? There’s really no way to stop her.” Harper said about EC’s star post. “She is so athletic that you can only hope to slow her down a bit. I’m glad we don’t have to face her again, she is a really good player.”

Things started out great for Elyria Catholic in the second half.

Mcgrath again scored two quick buckets to start the quarter and the Panthers were able to take the lead for the first time since the opening minutes, 27-26.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, that lead did not last very long. A steal and a coast-to-coast layup by Lakewood’s sophomore Mikayla Harper quickly gave the lead right back to the Rangers.

Lakewood did not allow the Panthers to score the remainder of the third quarter. They closed the quarter out on a 7-0 run en route to a 32-27 lead after three.

Neither team took control during the first few minutes of the fourth, until a big steal and layup by the Rangers’ Maggie Rowell which gave Lakewood a 34-28 lead they did not relinquish.

With both teams being over the foul limit the entire fourth quarter, the game came down to free-throw shooting.

Going into the fourth quarter the Rangers had missed six straight free throws, five of those misses coming from Harper.

Despite her mini-cold-spell at the line, Harper came up huge when it mattered the most. Leading by just three, 36-33, Harper stepped to the line and hit six straight free throws in a two minute span. The free throws iced the game for the Rangers, as they hit 11 of 12 free throws down the stretch to turn a 36-33 lead into a 50-38 victory over the Panthers.

“Give Lakewood a lot of credit, they did what they had to do to pull out a win today.” Elyria Catholic head coach Eric Rothgery said. “They hit some big free throws and stepped up on the defensive end down the stretch. We made too many mistakes. You can get away with that sometimes but not against a team of Lakewood’s caliber.”

The loss is Elyria Catholic’s (16-4, 9-2) second in its last four games. They are still playing without starting PG Riley Schill. Fortunately for the Panthers, Schill is on schedule to return for the playoffs.

Lakewood improves to 17-2 overall and 10-1 in the tough West Shore Conference. They are having one of the best seasons in school history and hope to keep rolling into the playoffs.

“This was a huge win for us, but we still have a lot of work to do.” coach Harper said. “We now have to take care of business against Midview, then prepare for a tournament run.”

Lakewood 50, Elyria Catholic 38

West Shore Conference

LAKEWOOD –– Maggie Rowell 2-2 6, Mikayla Harper 5-10 20, Megan Barrett 2-4 9, Simone Brown 1-0 2, Madison Clause 2-3 7, Erin Hoffert 0-2 2, Tori Milicevec 1-2 4. TOTALS 13-24-50.

ELYRIA CATHOLIC –– Julia Scarpelli 1-1 3, Josie Carandang 2-4 8, Brittney McNamara 1-1 4, Shannon Hopkins 1-1 3, Karissa McGrath 4-4 12, Becky Horvath 2-0 4, Erin Herschelman 1-2 4. TOTALS 12-13-38.

3-POINT GOALS –– L: Barrett; EC: McNamara.

Score by quarter

Lakewood (17-2,10-1) 15 9 8 18 –– 50

Elyria Catholic (16-4,9-2) 6 16 5 11 –– 38

Team Statistics

Field Goals –– Lakewood 13 of 41 (31 percent), Elyria Catholic 12 of 45 (28 percent)

Free Throws –– L 24 of 34 (70 percent), EC 13 of 26 (50 percent)

Rebounds –– L 31, EC 28

Turnovers- L 15 , EC 26

JV –– Lakewood, 43-33.

@MJournalSports

Last Updated: 2/2/2013 11:17:34 PM EST

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