AVON LAKE — You can’t win if you can’t score.
Avon had trouble from the outset Tuesday in its non-conference game against Avon Lake, totaling just five points in each of the first three quarters. The Eagles got hot in the fourth, scoring 20 points, but it still wasn’t enough, as the Shoremen prevailed, 43-35.
“(Avon Lake) played physical defense and got up in our guards a little bit,” said Eagles first-year head coach Kevin Sapara. “We certainly didn’t shoot well in the first three quarters. We simply have to make more shots.”
Avon’s shots may not have been falling, but it wasn’t out of the game through the first 11 minutes, with the score sitting at 9-9, following a layup by the Eagle’s Brian Kelly with 5:07 left in the second quarter.
That was the last basket Avon (7-5) scored over the next seven minutes, while Avon Lake (7-4) took control with a 16-1 run to lead 25-10.
Jimmy Hessel and Christian Jones got the run going by knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers that were quickly followed by a pair of layups from Seth Muck off Avon turnovers for a 19-10 lead. Mitch Gabanic closed the first-half scoring on a putback to give the Shoremen a 21-10 halftime advantage.
Jones and Muck finished the night in double figures, scoring 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Muck started the second half with two more driving baskets to run the lead to 25-10 before a basket by the basket by Cordell Winters ended the run.
Avon Lake carried a 27-15 lead into the final eight minutes of play when the Eagles’ shots finally started to drop.
Zach Gill opened the period with a 3-pointer, Matt Lawrence and Jack Poyle scored on layups and when Gill drained his second three, the Avon Lake lead had dwindled to 29-25 with 4:43 left.
Coming out of a Shoremen timeout, it looked like Muck was stuck at the elbow in the key, when he went up-and-under Lawrence for a scoop shot and a trip to the free throw line — the first of the night for Avon Lake.
“We needed a bigger lead and I was able to find a way to score,” Muck said. “Poyle hit those threes and I think we were getting a little lazy on defense and weren’t picking them up (at the 3-point line).”
Muck’s basket kept the Eagles at bay until Poyle (10 points) drained 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the floor to make the score 36-31.
Avon got no closer, with Jones hitting five of six free throw attempts to go with a Gabanic hoop.
“When Avon started fouling, coach wanted the ball in my hands, and I was able to knock them down,” Jones said. “It got frustrating not scoring ourselves, but we win our games with defense.”
“I’m not happy giving up 20 points in the fourth quarter. We had some mental breakdowns,” said Avon Lake coach Eric Smith. “We contested shooters for the first three quarters and we got lazy in the fourth quarter.
“(The Eagles) are good shooters and can knock them down. They knocked down four three’s in the quarter and got themselves back in the game.”
Avon Lake 43, Avon 35
AVON (35): Zach Gill 2-1-7, Brian Kelly 4-1-9, Jack Poyle 4-0-10, Cordell Winters 2-0-4, Matt Lawrence 2-1-5. Totals 14-3-35.
AVON LAKE (43): Christian Jones 3-5-13, Jimmy Hessel 3-0-7, Mitch Gabanic 3-0-6, Seth Muck 5-1-11, Brad Hamilton 3-0-6. Totals 17-6-43.
Avon 5 5 5 20 — 35
Avon Lake 6 15 6 16 — 43
Three-point goals: Avon 4-12 (Gill 2, Poyle 2); Avon Lake 3-12 (Jones 2, Hessel); Field goals: Avon 14-40 (35 percent); Avon Lake 17-46 (37 percent); Free throws: Avon 3-7 (43 percent); Avon Lake 6-7 (86 percent); Rebounds: Avon 24, Avon Lake 35; Turnovers: Avon 10; Avon Lake 12; Fouled Out: Avon: Gill. Junior varsity: Avon Lake, 37-33.
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or email@example.com.