After a quick start both offensively and defensively, Elyria’s basketball team suffered a rut midway through the third quarter of their game against Westlake on November 30.
The Pioneers struggled to score, rebound and allowed Westlake to get back into the game. Elyria led by 14 early in the third period, but fell to 1-1 this season with a 71-63 loss to the Demons.
“We’ve kind of left them out on two occasions,” said Elyria head coach Brett Larrick. “The defense was strong at the start of the game, but allowing 41 points in the second half is not good. We played hard in the first half, but I think they probably exhausted us a bit.
“We didn’t perform well. We didn’t take care of the ball.
Elyria returned the ball over 21 times in the loss.
Westlake’s Will Ostrowski scored 16 of his team’s 24 points in the second half to lead his team to a season opener. Ostrowski had 11 in the fourth quarter, including four on the free throw line.
As a team, the Demons made 10 of 14 strip attempts in the last period. Westlake edged Elyria by 12 points on the line in the game.
“We made a few mistakes during the game, but in the last minute or so our execution was good,” said Westlake head coach Jeff Huber. “We valued the ball, we made a few free throws, we had saves, we had rebounds. It was nice to see the guys playing with poise.
The Demons trailed fours after three quarters and took their first lead since midway through the first quarter on an Ostrowski three that capped an 8-0 streak to open the fourth.
Elyria goalkeeper Ryan Walsh finished the race with a midrange jumper. Walsh led all scorers with 34. The junior had 18 in the first quarter and 23 in the half.
Walsh hit a pair of 3s in the first minute of the third quarter which forced Huber to a timeout. The Demons responded by edging out Elyria 41-19 for the remainder of the game.
“I thought in the first half he had a few clean looks in transition, but he just hit some really tough shots,” Huber said. “We spoke before the game and said he was going to do it, but if we force him to take hard punches all night, the odds will end up turning a bit.
“I think DeOntae (Redding) and (Ostrowski) did a great job of getting him to work (in the second half).”
Elyria only led by two in the last minute of the game and was fortunate enough to reduce it to at least one or a tie following a missed free throw from Ostrowski. Instead, the Demons grabbed the offensive rebound and Ostrowski was fouled again.
Again he missed the second half of his two attempts and once again Westlake got the rebound. Ray Ellington and Grayson Elyaderani each had a pair of free throws in the dying seconds.
“Those rebounds at the end of the game were huge. This transformed the game from a one-possession game to a three-possession game. It has absolutely been a game-changer for us, ”said Huber.
Omar Palos was the only other Elyria player outside of Walsh to hit double digits, scoring 11.
Westlake has had three players who crossed the ten-point mark, including. Including Ostrowski, Ellington (17 points) and Julian Coleman (12 points) scored in double digits.
West Lake: The Demons travel to Independence on December 7 to take on the Blue Devils in another non-conference outing.
Elyria: The Pioneers open their first season in the Southwestern Conference against Avon on December 10 at Elyria High School.