Francis Sherman (left) of Bay, and Elyria Catholic's Luke Costantino reach for a loose ball in the first half. DAVID RICHARD / CHRONICLE
BAY VILLAGE — Elyria Catholic found out the hard way Friday night that Bay isn’t ready to relinquish its Great Lakes Conference title just yet.
The Panthers were held to a season low in scoring and Rockets senior Erik Painter excited the Senior Night crowd by breaking the school’s all-time scoring record with the opening points of the game as Bay dominated in a 58-42 win over the Panthers.
Elyria Catholic picked the wrong night to have an off night, playing in one of the toughest venues in the GLC.
The Panthers were held to 35 percent shooting, shot under 50 percent (10-of-21) from the free throw line and never led after the 3:58 mark of the first quarter when Edward Wright hit a jumper for a 7-6 lead.
The good news for Elyria Catholic (10-8, 8-2 GLC) is it still controls its own destiny for a league title with a one-game lead over Bay (14-4, 7-3) and a game-and-a-half lead over Rocky River and Holy Name with two league games left.
“We have to put this aside and focus on still having to play Parma and Rocky River in the conference,” EC junior center Branson Taylor said.
Taylor led the Panthers with 13 points and nearly got the team back into the game by scoring seven points in a span of 2:24 early in the fourth quarter to cut the Rockets lead to 45-42.
It turned out it wasn’t enough to overcome a slow start that saw Bay take a 10-point lead on three occasions in the second quarter.
“We just didn’t come out prepared enough,” Taylor said. “We started slow and tried to turn on the switch in the second half but the truth is we should have came out faster.”
It was a big night for Painter, who scored his 1,524th career point just over a minute into the game to surpass 2018 grad R.J. Sunahara as top scorer in Rockets history. Painter finished with a game-high 21 points.
“We lost to them earlier in the year and we didn’t play up to the way we could,” Painter said of the Panthers. “So it was just great to come out tonight on our Senior Night with a great crowd and a great atmosphere, and to get the win feels unbelievable. This is a big boost to beat the No. 1 team in conference and it also shows how good we are when we play to our ability.”
Although the Panthers were held under 50 points for only the fourth time this season and were unable score in the final 4:32, Elyria Catholic coach Rob Palmer was still happy about where his team is heading into the closing weeks of the regular season.
“We never found our rhythm tonight but give Bay credit, they played great defense,” Palmer said. “We just have to find a way to do better. Overall, I feel really good about where we are right now. This is a great team. Tonight we just came up against another good team that really wanted this win, in an emotional game. Give Bay and coach (Jared) Shetzer the credit but I like where we are right now.”
The Rockets feel that avenging their 82-79 loss to EC will help them get ready for the upcoming Division II district tournament.
“You’re always trying to peak at the right time and we’re hoping this is going to kinda springboard us up to where we want to be,” Shetzer said. “EC played hard but we have good kids in our locker room and they’ve been listening to what we’ve been saying and they’re ready to keep rolling now.”
Jarred Logan added 10 points for the Panthers.
While Elyria Catholic is focused on finishing off the GLC title, the team is also excited about its next game Tuesday at state-ranked Division I power Lorain.
“We have a whole lot of respect for Lorain but we’re ready to give them the game of the year.” Palmer said. “To beat the best you’ve gotta play the best. Going up against Lorain on Tuesday will be an exciting time for this program. The boys are ready to give it all they’ve got.”
Bay 58, Elyria Catholic 42
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (42): Jarred Logan 4-2-10, Jack Griffin 1-0-3, Eli Palmer 1-2-5, Edward Wright 2-1-6, Connor Trockley 1-0-3, Nate Damron 0-2-2, Branson Taylor 5-3-13. Totals 14-10-42.
BAY (58): Erik Painter 7-5-21, Francis Sherman 2-0-4, Max Showalter 2-1-5, Jake Martin 1-5-8, Cade Gergye 3-0-7, Jack Maxwell 1-0-3, Christian Dupps 5-0-10. Totals 21-11-58.
Elyria Catholic 9 10 15 8 — 42
Bay 17 12 14 15 — 58
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic (Palmer, Taylor, Trockley, Wright), Bay (Painter 2, Martin, Gergye, Maxwell). Field goals: Elyria Catholic 14-40 (35 percent), Bay 21-57 (37 percent). Free throws: Elyria Catholic 10-21 (48 percent), Bay 11-15 (73 percent). Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 30, Bay 38. Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 14, Bay 12. Total fouls: Elyria Catholic 19, Bay 10. Technical foul: Trockley.
Junior varsity: Bay, 70-47