Lo­rain hopes to be play­off Cin­derella

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS - By Matt Lof­gren sports@morn­ingjour­nal.com @MJour­nalS­ports on Twit­ter

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.

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