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Boys Basketball State Tournament

Lorain Overpowers Amherst Steele, 84-53

LORAIN– It wasn’t the prettiest win, but in the end, it was more than enough.

The Lorain Titans (21-2) defeated the Amherst Comets (2-18) in the sectional finals on Saturday night, 84-53.

The Titans had five players score in double figures. Leading the way were Octavious Wilson with 18 points and Daesean Brooks with 17. Taevon Pierre-Louis had 15, while Devone Grant had 11, and Nazihar Bohannon added 10. The Comets were led by Carter Zajkowski with 14.

The Titans led for nearly the entire game, except for a few possessions early in the first quarter, but the Comets hung around for most of the first half. They deftly navigated Lorain’s full-court man-to-man press and were able to score out of their press breaker.

In the final minutes of the second quarter, the Titans and Comets continued to trade baskets, but Lorain still headed into the locker room with a 13-point lead.

Arguably, what kept Lorain’s lead was their shot creating ability and their rebounding advantage. In the first half, the Titans outrebounded Amherst 28-15. For the game the rebounding margin would only increase, as the Titans grabbed a whopping 51 boards compared to Amherst’s 35. Leading the way was Pierre-Lewis with 13.

Between the rebounds, and the shooting from Bohannon, Brooks and Wilson, (who were all in double figures by the end of the second quarter) Lorain maintained their edge. But when they came out to begin the third, it was clear the Titans were back to playing their defensive brand of basketball. They held the Comets scoreless for the first three minutes, and head coach John Rositano said it wasn’t due to any adjustment made in the locker room.

“There was no adjustments. It was start playing the way Lorain plays. We took them lightly. We took them for granted, and in athletics when you start taking teams for granted you start trying to take shortcuts,” he said. “We took shortcuts in the first half and didn’t do things the right way.”

“In the second half we pushed a little bit and popped the score up on them … We took care of business a little bit better.”

“I’m not going to sugar coat it, we came out like coach said and we kind of slept on them, which you can’t do in tournament basketball,” Bohannon said. “And it showed, the game was close [in the first half] and coach came in here and got after us at half time.”

As the second half got underway, the Titans began pressing and trapping harder and their offense picked up and followed suit. Wilson had some critical lay-ups in transition, as well as jumpers, that would help give the Titans a 27-point lead at the end of the quarter, 66-39.

By the fourth quarter, the Titans had the game too far out of reach for Amherst to mount a comeback, and Rositano was able to sub his seniors out for a final time on their home court.

The Titans will play the Avon Eagles on Wednesday night at 7 pm at Elyria Catholic in the district semifinals.

Ashley is a former basketball player who covers the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indians and high school sports for NEO Sports Insiders. She also covers the Cavs for SB Nation's Fear The Sword. Ashley is a 2015 graduate of John Carroll University and previously worked in political journalism. You can follow her on Twitter @AshleyBastock42

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