Hot Start and Late Heroics Earn Storm a Win on Senior Night

Riley Thomas (photo by Ryan Baker/Baker Media Productions)
Riley Thomas (photo by Ryan Baker/Baker Media Productions)

PAINESVILLE, OHIO -- Freshman guard Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington-Lincoln) stepped to the line for Lake Erie College (7-18, 3-15 GLIAC) in a tied game with five seconds left and the game tied and after missing the first try, Thomas connected on the second. It was enough as Tiffin University's (7-18, 5-13 GLIAC) last second runner was off the mark, securing the 68-67 for the Storm.

Storm Men's Basketball Holds off Tiffin
Feb 24, 2011

Lake Erie College men's basketball holds off Tiffin for a 68-67 win on senior night in Painesville.

It was senior night for Lake Erie and its top senior, guard Ethan Bradshaw (Cincinnati, Ohio/Harmony Prep) did not disappoint. Bradshaw drained 26 points which moved him into third on the all-time career scoring list with 1,220 points. Tiffin was led by guard Brian Scott with a game-high 27 points off the bench. 

The victory completed the season sweep for the Storm as they won by a nearly identical 68-66 margin in Tiffin on Jan. 15.

Lake Erie's three seniors – Bradshaw, center Jimmy Kerrigan (Strongsville, Ohio/Midpark) and guard Jeremy Bilancione (New Port Richey, Fla./River Ridge) – got the start and the emotional lift sparked the Storm early.  The Green and White raced out to the game's first 10 points, with six from Bradshaw and two from Kerrigan.  Lake Erie pushed that lead to 21-9 at 13:02 with a layup from junior guard Brandon Smith (Bedford, Ohio/Bedford/Cuyahoga Community College).  Tiffin closed that gap to three but the Storm pushed its first half lead back out to double-digits and a breakaway dunk from Smith at 00:02 sent Lake Erie to the half with a 40-29 advantage. 

The Storm started the second half strong as well, as they pushed the lead out to a game-high 17 points when a Bilancione fast break layup made the score 48-31 at 15:21.  Tiffin quickly dissolved that adva

ntage and it was erased completely at 4:42 when a Rafael Cuellar layup knotted the score at 60-60.  The Dragons took their only lead of the game at 62-61 with 3:24 to play but it lasted just 20 seconds as a Bradshaw layup put Lake Erie backon top. 

The score remained that way at 1:31 when sophomore Garrick Sims (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) converted a monster dunk and was fouled.  Sims could not convert the free throw try and a Cuellar layup brought the Dragons within one at 65-64 with 1:09 to play.  Thomas calmly knocked down a 18-foot jumper with 36 seconds to play but a three-pointer by Tiffin guard Joe Graessle tied the score at 67-67 at 19 seconds.  After Thomas' free throw, guard Karl Finley drove the length of the floor and saw his open runner clang off the iron as Lake Erie snapped a nine-game home losing streak.. 

It was a clean game as Lake Erie committed just eight turnovers and Tiffin only seven, but the Dragons managed to stay in the contest with an 18-5 points off turnover advantage.  The Storm shot 26-of-64 (40.6%) while the Dragons went 24-of-68 (35.3%).

Lake Erie closes out its season on Saturday as they travel to Ashland for a 1:00 p.m. tipoff.