AVON — In a rough-and-tumble, fan-friendly showdown, Avon hung on to nip Elyria Catholic 48-46 on Saturday. It moved the teams into a two-way tie for second place in the West Shore Conference race a game behind Lakewood.
The young Eagles (11-6, 8-2) won with balanced scoring and superior foul shooting. No one reached double figures, but sophomores Sierra Davidson and Jessica Yurkovich each scored nine points, freshman Alexandra Bjorn scored eight, and sophomore Brianna Conroy and senior Brianna Smith added six points apiece.
Someone later suggested to Avon coach Meghan Banks that the game had been fun.
“I wouldn’t define it as fun, but our girls continue to fight in each game,” Banks said. “We’re a young basketball team, so we have to be patient. We need to continue to teach them so that they understand different situations and they’re prepared. We’re going to continue to grow and gain experience, and I think we’ll become a better team.”
Despite losing, it was a remarkable performance by the Panthers, who were without starting point guard Riley Schill, a freshman. Schill, the team’s scoring leader in its previous three games, underwent an appendectomy Saturday and is expected to be out three weeks. She was replaced by freshman Becky Horvath, who made her first varsity start.
“I was super nervous,” said Horvath, who played one quarter of the EC-Avon freshman game earlier in the day. “I thought we might catch them. We all had to step up and play to the best of our ability. We played a lot better than I thought we might, because Riley makes a huge difference.”
EC also lost the services of two other starters — seniors Brittney McNamara, their sharpshooting guard, and post Karissa McGrath — during the game. But both later returned.
The Panthers won three of the four quarters. But they lost the second period by eight points, and that was the difference.
EC trailed 27-21 at the break but cut the Eagles’ lead to 37-33 going into the fourth quarter. This was thanks in part to a high-arcing 3-point shot by junior Brooke Nedrich that put Panthers fans on their feet.
They trailed just 40-39 after a 6-0 run early in the fourth in which Horvath made a shot and McGrath scored twice on inbounds plays.
EC tied it at 46 when McNamara nailed another long 3-pointer with 2:19 left. But the Eagles’ Davidson created the final score when she made a layup with 1:40 to go.
The Panthers had the ball in the front court and called timeout with 6.5 seconds left. But they missed a contested layup with two seconds left.
“I’m very proud of my girls,” EC coach Eric Rothgery said. “I told them beforehand, no excuses. We don’t have our point guard, we just have to play. Karissa goes down and Brittney gets hurt, but the girls just sucked it up and just kept playing. I’ve got nothing negative to say. The girls played hard the whole way.”
Josie Carandang, EC’s other freshman starter at guard, was asked about playing alongside Horvath, who had never before started a varsity game.
“Becky’s great,” Carandang said. “She’s always ready, always prepared. She knows the plays and she’s great.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon 48, Elyria Catholic 46
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (46): Julia Scarpelli 2-0-4, Josie Carandang 1-2-4, Brittney McNamara 3-1-8, Shannon Hopkins 1-2-4, Brooke Nedrich 1-0-3, Karissa McGrath 4-5-13, Becky Horvath 4-0-8, Emily Millar 1-0-2. Totals 17-10-46.
AVON (48): Payton Mitchell 2-0-4, Sierra Davidson 4-1-9, Jessica Yurkovich 3-2-9, Kaitlin Neumann 0-0-0, Tina Petrillo 0-2-2, Catie Kelly 1-2-4, Brianna Conroy 3-0-6, Brianna Smith 1-4-6, Alexandra Bjorn 2-4-8. Totals 16-15-48.
Elyria Catholic 9 12 12 13 – 46
Avon 7 20 10 11 – 48
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic 2-11 (Nedrich, McNamara); Avon 1-9 (Yurkovich); Field goals: Elyria Catholic 17-65 (26.2 percent); Avon 16-53 (30.2 percent); Free throws: Elyria Catholic 10-20, Avon 15-24; Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 44, Avon 37. Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 18, Avon 21.
Junior varsity: Avon, 45-16