By ANDY WOLF
TOLEDO — Elmwood boys basketball coach Ty Traxler knew exactly what his team was up against Thursday in the Division III district semifinals.
He labeled Cardinal Stritch as the fastest team the Royals have played in seven years.
The Cardinals showed just how quick they were, storming out to a 17-0 lead in the first 5 minutes and rolling to a 61-23 victory at Toledo Central Catholic.
“Without question,” Traxler said. “That’s probably the fastest team Elmwood has played against since we played Lima Central Catholic in the district in 2012, from one end of the court to the other.”
Senior Jonathan Duvall had a team-high 11 points and two steals for Elmwood (14-10). Bryce Reynolds had six points and four rebounds, and Josiah Childress had five points to complete the scoring for the Royals.
Cardinal Stritch (21-3), ranked No. 11 in the final AP state poll, will meet fourth-ranked Genoa (24-0) in the district final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Toledo Central Catholic.
Little Anderson and Joey Holifield led the Cardinals with 14 points apiece. Jordan Burton added nine points and Jhaiden Wilson had eight points and three steals.
The Cardinals triggered the 35-point running clock by building a 52-17 lead with 1:46 left in the third quarter.
“Special team; they’re a potential final four team,” Traxler said of Cardinal Stritch. “In our district there’s nowhere to hide — it was either going to be them or Genoa.
“…Felt like it didn’t have to go the way it did. It’s hard to simulate that speed and length.”
Cardinal Stritch didn’t miss any of its first seven shots, all 2-pointers, in building a 17-0 lead.
Anderson, a 6-foot-3 athletic wing, scored eight straight in the run, twice in transition on a breakaway dunk and another off a lob from Wilson.
Wilson capped it with a three-point play in transition at the 2:44 mark.
Meanwhile, Elmwood missed its first eight shots and committed three turnovers in that span.
Cardinal Stritch coach Jamie Kachmarik said it was simply about “scrambling it and making it where they didn’t feel comfortable.” The approach was nothing different from any of their previous 23 games.
The Cardinals pressured the Royals in their halfcourt sets, rushing whatever shots they could manage to get off.
“We were hoping to hit some shots early and we obviously did not,” Traxler said. “That obviously led to our demise quickly.”
Duvall put Elmwood on the board with a 3-pointer shortly after Wilson’s three-point play.
The Royals mustered four 3-pointers in the first half, two by Duvall in the first quarter and two by Reynolds in the second, and trailed 33-12 at halftime. They missed their first 11 attempts inside the arc and shot 8 of 41 (19.5 percent) from the floor overall.
Childress ended the drought by scoring on a two-on-one break from Nolan Laube off the press.
Elmwood graduates six seniors off a team that finished runner-up in the Northern Buckeye Conference and upped its win total by five the previous season.
“We were picked sixth in our league and ended up the runner-up,” Traxler said. “You don’t want to end the season on a 40-point loss, but I don’t think our kids have a lick of things to hang their heads about.
“I’m proud of them for the season they had. I’m going to miss them a bunch.”
Childress 2-1–6, Duvall 4-0–11, Reynolds 2-0–6. TOTALS: 8-41 1-3 — 23.
CARDINAL STRITCH (21-3)
Meade 1-0–2, Wilson 3-1–8, Sobczak 0-1–1, Burton 3-2–9, Anderson 7-0–14, Wiggins 2-0–6, Holifield 5-4–14, Caryer 0-3–3, Finch 2-0–4. TOTALS: 23-44 11-15 — 61.
Elmwood 6 6 6 5 — 23
Cardinal Stritch 24 9 22 6 — 61
3-POINT GOALS: Elmwood 6-21 (Duvall 3, Reynolds 2, Childress); Cardinal Stritch 4-7 (Wiggins 2, Wilson & Burton).
REBOUNDS: Elmwood 24 (Reynolds 4); Cardinal Stritch 35 (Holifield 9).
TURNOVERS: Elmwood 14; Cardinal Stritch 6.