Perkins Pirates prevail over Amherst Comets

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Perkin's Shannon Ebert, right, steps around Amherst's Brooke Wallace to score in the first quarter last night.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Perkin's Kayla Yost, left, passes the ball after being stopped by Amherst's Brianna Shagovac in the first quarter last night.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Avon's Allie Bjorn ties up Elyria's Mary Jones in the corner during the fourth quarter.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Avon's Payton Mitchell, center, gets off a shot over Elyria's Mariah Johnson, front, and Sybil Roseboro in the third quarter.

AMHERST — Perkins has been looking for a game in which its three seniors were playing well at the same time.

It couldn’t have come at a better time with seniors Darcy Daniel, Shannon Ebert and Kayla Yost combining for 31 points and the Pirates defense playing outstanding to defeat host Amherst 41-28 in the second game of the 2012 Comets Holiday Tournament Thursday night.

Perkins will play Elyria, who defeated Avon in the first game, Friday in championship game.

“We challenged the three seniors to play well in the same game and it happened,” Perkins coach Ray Neill said. “I am very happy and proud. We played against a good team and we needed to play well in order to win the game.”

Though Perkins (6-2) struggled against the Comets (5-2) pressure defense turning the ball over seven times in the first quarter, they still managed to hold a 13-9 lead keyed by Shannon Ebert’s three-point play near the end of the quarter.

While the Pirates continued to struggle, they started to build on to their lead as their 2-3 zone defense stifled any offense the Comets tried to muster. Holding Amherst to one field goal in the second quarter, Perkins extended its lead to 21-12 at the half.

“We were playing our bread-and-butter defense,” Ebert said. “Our focus was to step out on their perimeter shooters and control the middle.”

Finding some offense in the third quarter, the Comets closed the gap down to 23-18 before Perkins regained its footing and pushed their lead back to eight, 30-22.

During the third quarter, Perkins adjusted its offense on the fly setting up different players to take advantage of a mismatch. There were a handful of times, Ebert (11 points) or Abbey Seeholzer handled the point.

With the lead, Perkins continued its stranglehold on defense. Constantly frustrating the Comets and forcing turnovers, the Pirates continued to be patient on offense. They ran off time and extended their lead. For Amherst coach John Rositano, he knew where the problem laid.

“For the past two games, we have been playing backwards,” he said. “Shot-making is a by-product of competing and rebounding on the defensive end. We had trouble making our shots at the offensive end and we weren’t competing at the other end at a high level.

“It was a lackluster effort.”

What epitomized Perkins’ defensive effort was holding Brianna Shagovac scoreless in the second half after scoring 10 in the first half.

Along with her 11 points, Ebert snagged 10 rebounds. Yost had a game-high 12 points, while Daniel added eight.

After being tied, Elyria closed out the first quarter with an 11-0 run. They held off a late Avon rally to advance to the championship game with a 58-44 win.

“We thought about how Avon beat us last year,” Elyria senior guard Mary Jones said. “We took our time on offense and attacked them when they attacked. We got a little relaxed – which is something we can’t do – and allowed them to come back. But we got it back together and get the win.”

For most of the first quarter, neither team was giving an inch with Avon (4-5) tying the game at 10 on a pair of free throws by Catie Kelly. Thanks to their defense and some timely shooting, the Pioneers (5-4) closed out the quarter on an 11-0 run.

Jones had eight of her game-high 20 points in the first quarter, while Alexis Middlebrooks had six of her 16 in the quarter. Elyria Coach Mike Walsh felt the play of sophomore Mariah Johnson and Shayla Middlebrooks were key during the run.

Though trailing, Avon continued to battle. They started the fourth quarter with a 9-1 run, Avon sliced the deficit down to 51-40 midway through, but Jones scored four points and had nice assist to Alexis Middlebrooks to keep the Eagles at arms’ length.

“Mary has played exceptional the past two games,” Walsh said. “Not just in scoring points, but in her play-making ability.”

Freshman Alexandra Bjorn came off the bench and led Avon with 12 points. Jessica Yurkovic added nine.

Avon will play Amherst in the consolation final today starting at 6 p.m. The championship game between Perkins and Elyria will follow.

@MJournalSports

Last Updated: 12/27/2012 11:39:05 PM EST

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