DODGE CITY – After making the Class 1A Division I state tournament, the Elyria Christian boys stumbled in the second half of their quarterfinal game and closed out the season on Thursday with a 20-point, 66-46 loss to Wichita Classical.
With the loss the Eagles finished the 2022-23 season 20-4 overall while Wichita Classical went on to upset top-seed Olpe, 45-44 in the semi-finals before losing to Macksville in the State Championship game, 73-62.
“This season was a great learning experience for this group,” explained Elyria head coach Zach Goodrich. “Our game against Classical in the first round was an opponent that was very similar to us as they played an up tempo style, shot the three ball, and had two strong ball handling guards that attacked the rim.”
Elyria Christian led by three, 20-17, at the end of the first quarter and by two at 31-29 heading into the halftime break. Coming out of the break it was all Wichita Classical as they outscored the Eagles 37-15 over the third and fourth quarters to gain the final 20-point victory.
By the stat sheet, Wichita Classical won on the boards by outrebounding Elyria 31-15 and at the free throw line where they had 15 more attempts than the Eagles while making 18 to just 11 for Elyria.
Regarding the game, coach Goodrich noted, “I thought we started the game off well offensively while defensively we were not as sharp in the first quarter and game up some looks that we knew they were looking for. I knew we were going to have our work cut out to sustain what we did in the first half, Classical came out attacking the basket and we were not able to play without fouling and putting them on the free throw line. They had a good size advantage over us, and it showed late in the contest as they were more efficient around the basket and made their free throws.”
Individually, the Eagles had three reach double digits in scoring led by Alex Robertson with 12 thanks to connecting on four three-pointers, while both Johnny Unruh and Ty Romero each had 11. James Schott dished out seven of the team’s dozen assists and Landon Schneider grabbed a team high six rebounds.
One fault in the final quarter was losing Schneider to fouls while Caleb Laney had to play with four and Robertson, Schott, and Romero each were whistled with three.
Coach Goodrich continued his talk about the game by saying, “Every end of the season loss is a tough one, but I was proud of the way the boys battled as we were shorthanded. We will need to get stronger, and get in the weightroom to not give up such a physical advantage in rebounding. We will need to improve our skill, because one element is having the ability to score near the basket at a better clip. If we can learn to do those two things next season, I believe this group has an opportunity to do some special things.”
Concluding his reflections on the team, coach Goodrich discussed the season overall with a look ahead when he pointed out, “This group learned some tough lessons, and I believe they always come back stronger. Out shortcomings in 2021-22 lead to this opportunity and I am hoping coming up short in their goals this season will produce a similar result in efforts to improve this off-season. A lot of the boys grew and I was excited they were able to get a taste of the state tournament. Silas (Redenbaough) and Caleb (Laney) will be missed as they provided a sense of confidence and get the job done type of attitude. They gave us the chance to have the season we had despite not having eye-popping stats. The group we will have returning have a chance to make us better. Johnny (Unruh) was consistent all season and provided toughness that will only improve over this spring and summer. Ty (Romero) and Alex (Robertson) both steadily improved throughout the season and will need to be more active around the basket next year if we want to reach our full potential. Both James (Schott) and Landon (Schneider) were fantastic interior players for us and they defended everyone’s size that we played against, without their efforts we would have struggled.”
ELYRIA CHRISTIAN EAGLES vs. Wichita Classical at Class 1A Division I State Tournament, Quarterfinals
SCORGING: EALGES > 20-11-8-7 = 46; Wichita Classical > 17-12-18-19 = 66.
TEAM STATS: ELYRIA CHRISTIAN EAGLES > 2-FGs – 6/14; 3-PTs – 9/24; FTs – 7/11; AST – 12; REBs – 15; TO – 9; STLs – 5; BLKs – 2; FLs – 21. Wichita Classical > 2-FGs – 15/22; 3-PTs – 6/14; FTs – 18/26; AST – 13; REBs – 31; TO – 12; STLs – 7; BLKs – 1; FLs – 12.
ELYRIA CHRISTIAN EAGLES INDIVIDUAL STATS: Scoring > Alex Robertson – 12; Johnny Unruh – 11; Ty Romero – 11; Caleb Laney – 4; James Schott – 4; Landon Schneider – 4. 3-Pointers Made > A. Robertson – 4; Unruh, Romero – 2; Laney – 1. Assists > Schott – 7; Unruh – 2; A. Robertson, Laney, Schneider – 1. Rebounds > Schneider – 6; Schott – 4; A. Robertson – 2; Laney – 1. Steals > Unruh, Romero, Laney, Schott, Schneider – 1. Blocked Shots > Unruh, Romero – 1.
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