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HS Boys Playoff Hoops: Lorain Tops Garfield Heights 64-58 to Move On To 7th Straight District Title Game

After the 10th seed Lorain Titans found success in the first half. Fifth seed Garfield Heights began to claw their way back. They eventually tied the game 58-58 with a second-chance point from Tyler Jackson in the Division I, Northeast 6 District semi-final.

But in the moment, the Titans showed how composed they were as they defeated the Bulldogs 64-58 to advance to their seventh consecutive district title game.

“It’s a testament to the seven seniors that played who grinded out a game against a really elite team on their own home court..,” Lorain’s coach John Rositano said after the win.

“These guys are high-character guys… You can see that they never got rattled to a point where they were going to let that affect the outcome of the contest.”

The Titans did it by playing the brand of basketball that they pride themselves in, their defense.

“That is Lorain basketball right there,” Rositano said.

“A grind-it-out, gritty, tough, hard-nosed. Just like the city. They are not going to quit, they are going to tough it out. That’s what we’ve brought here for the last eight years.”

The defensive play of the night happened with less than 30 seconds remaining. Lorain was up 61-58. Bulldogs’ Marcos Vazquez three-point attempt was blocked by Titans’ Aden Brown to set up two free-throws for Lorain’s leading scorer Seth Wilson, giving them a 4-point lead. With little time remaining.

“It was pure instinct,” Brown said. “I thought I could get the ball so I blocked it.”

Rositano was proud of the way his team played defense and was most impressed with the way Senior Guard Jamir Billings played on the defensive end.

“I thought Billings was tremendous defensively,” he said.

“Whoever he guarded, he was all over him. When you take the other team’s point of attack and make it difficult for that guy, you are going to have a chance to win a lot of games. He did that and he’s been doing that all year.”

He even went so far to say he was the best on-ball defender he has coached in his 35 years of coaching.

Rositano thought it was critical for Lorain to get off to a hot start and an early lead in spite of the fact his team had a lack of practice and gameplay due to quarantine.

That is exactly what happened. Lorain’s artillery unit was proficient in the first half. Making 7 of their 15 attempts.

Their 3-point shooting allowed them to go on a 9-0 run to close out the first quarter and an 8-0 run to start the third quarter.

Lorain’s defense was key in the first half as they allowed 20 first half points, 12 points in the first quarter, 8 points in the second quarter.

Lorain led by as much as 15 points with 4:30 left in the third quarter.

“I thought it was important we get off to a good start only because we don’t have our basketball leg [at full strength] yet,” he said.

“We couldn’t afford to get behind, because I was concerned about how much energy we have at the end of the game. You could see us start wearing down a little bit and that was why we had to have that lead early in the game.”

After Lorain went on their 8-0 run to start the third quarter. The Bulldogs got into gear to slowly chop at their lead.

The alpha Bulldog in the second half was Makail Cottingham, who scored all his 13 points in the third and fourth quarters. Right next to him was Tyler Jackson (20 points), and Tavion Tatum (14 points).

After cutting the lead to 44-37 to start the fourth quarter. Garfield Heights went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead down to 6 points with 4:45 remaining. It was followed by a back and forth scoring from Garfield Heights Tatum and Titans De’Vante Jackson before Lorain was able to close it out.

The leading scorers for the Titans were Wilson (24 points), who was dealing with a thumb injury on his shooting hand, De’Vante Jackson (16 points), and Billings (11 points).

Garfield Heights finishes their season with a 9-5 record, 5-4 in the Lake Erie League. Lorain’s win makes their record 8-5, 5-5 in the Lake Erie League and will advance to the Division I, Northeast 6 District final to take on two seed St. Ignatius on the Wildcats floor.

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