Lorain hopes to be playoff Cinderella
Coach Mark Feldmann’s young team is a No. 9 seed in the Elyria Catholic District, but he believes they have learned enough this season that they could have surprising success. Plus, the Top of the Crop.
It’s March Madness in February.
All of the hype, the fun and the intensity of March delivered right to a high school near you.
Looking to play the part of Cinderella this year is the Lorain Titans, who have brought a new attitude to the program.
Earning the No. 9 seed in the Elyria Catholic District, Lorain and coach Mark Feldmann have set a date with eighth-seeded Elyria for an opening round match-up on Feb. 17 at Elyria.
Getting his team as prepared as possible, Feldmann said the Titans are going to have to adjust quickly to breaking out of their normal routine.
“We’re just playing one game at a time and then we’ll have a couple of days to get ready for Elyria for the tournament game,” Feldmann said. “There’s no substitute for walking in that gym, getting dressed, getting in your pregame, the whole nine yards. There’s no JV game before. You just get off the bus and start stretching and you know that if you don’t play well, you’re done. You just can’t prepare for that.”
Seeing his team go through the ups and downs of a tough schedule, Feldmann said the growing pains have been worth it to get his team to become battle-tested for a postseason run.
“We started off the season kind of slow,” Feldmann said. “As the season’s gone on, they’ve gotten smarter, they’ve gotten better. So, it’s been a learning season and we’ve improved and that’s what you want.”
Built with a lot of youth, Lorain starts a pair of freshmen. Rather than view it as a negative, Feldmann believes getting experience at a young age helps the Titans now and in the future.
“It’s huge (to get this experience now) with a lot of them coming back next year and they’ve learned a lot from the struggles they’ve gone through,” Feldmann said. “It’s rewarding for a coach to know that all the work you’ve put in, you’re going to have that back next year. Everything you do is an investment.
“Young kids are fun to coach, too, because they really listen to you. They’re like sponges. When you have inexperienced kids, they giveth and they taketh away, so sometimes during the game, they give it away and you just shake your head and go on.”
Working in a season that has been a step forward for the program as a whole, Feldmann has seen his team make the most progress in the team’s con- fidence and ability to handle adversity.
“Probably our biggest improvement is not putting our heads down when things don’t go well,” Feldmann said. “At the beginning of the season, when things would start to go bad, their heads would go down and they stopped playing hard. But they would never argue with each other. They do have pretty good chemistry and stuff, but that give-up attitude when you’re down by 10. It’s a game of runs and you go three- or four-minute stretches where you can’t score at all and you’ve got to stay with it, just move on to the next play and they
Dropped out: None Watch list: North Ridgeville (11-11), Keystone (10-9), Lorain (11-10) Crop comments: Elyria Catholic (17-5) remains at the top after a pair of wins against Bay and Valley Forge to close out the regular season and win the Great Lakes Conference title outright . ...
had to learn that.”
Feldmann said that his team has handled situations well with games on the line and developed the winning chemistry that just might make them this year’s Cinderella.
“They’ve beaten some pretty good teams the last two or three weeks here Olmsted Falls (15-6) made a very strong push to reclaim No. 1, topping Amherst before handing Berea-Midpark an eight-point loss. Had Elyria Catholic faltered, the Bulldogs would have been on top . ... Lutheran West (17-2) continues its climb in the Crop, taking advantage of a rough week by Avon to jump up another spot. The Longhorns have Fairview and Cuyahoga Heights to close the regular season . ... Avon (13-9) had its worst week of the season to head into tournament play. The Eagles dropped games to Westlake, Lakewood and St. Joseph, but should turn it around quickly as they have done all year . ... Westlake (12-9) is peaking at the correct time. In the last two weeks, the Demons have topped No. 2 Olmsted Falls, No. 8 Avon Lake and No. 4 Avon . ... Wellington (16-2) slips — simply because Westlake moved up a spot. ... Bay (13-8) kicked off the week by topping No. 9 Lake Ridge before losing to No. 1 Elyria Catholic and topping Division I Elyria. Note: Records as of Feb. 13.
and they think they can hang with anybody,” Feldmann said. “We’re a real small group. We have troubles on the boards because we’ve got a bunch of mites out there. But they play hard and have real good chemistry and they want to win. Those three things are pretty crucial for winning.”
Nicole Ortiz of Lorain looks to shoot over Vanecia Billings and Alyzabeth Lighty of Clearview during a January 2018 matchup.