AVON — It wasn’t just a game between Avon and Elyria Catholic on Friday night. There was a game within a game between two deadly outside shooters — EC’s Tyler Riddell and Avon’s Brian Kelly.
That was the way the game had shaped up by halftime. Riddell had 16 points and Kelly 14. But when the final horn sounded, Riddell was stuck on 16 and Kelly had scored a career-high 28 to lead Avon to a 62-49 win in a critical West Shore Conference meeting.
“It all felt really good,” said Kelly, a junior guard. “It was clicking for us. This was one of our better offensive games.”
Kelly hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and two in the third. He scored just four points in the fourth period, but handed out three assists.
“Brian’s a very coachable kid,” Avon coach Kevin Sapara said. “He loves the game, he plays it hard all the time and he’s a good teammate. We got off to a slow start, but Brian stayed composed and hit some big shots for us. I can’t say enough about the way he handled himself.”
Avon (11-6, 8-2 WSC) did indeed begin the game poorly. Elyria Catholic (8-8, 5-5) jumped to a 10-2 lead, with Riddell hitting two of his four 3-pointers. But the Eagles went on an 11-1 run, Kelly hitting three from long range in that stretch.
EC’s final lead was 26-25 with 3:44 to play before halftime. Avon scored nine unanswered points to take the lead for good.
It was Avon’s defense as much as Kelly’s scoring that sent the Panthers reeling in the second half. A 5-for-26 shooting effort from the field in the final two periods kept EC from mounting a comeback after Avon opened the second half on a 13-3 run to go ahead by 13.
“Tyler was cramping in the second half,” EC coach Jason Smith said. “We couldn’t get him the shots he wanted. We took too many wild shots. In the first half, we got what we wanted, getting inside for layups.
Our decision making was poor in the second half.
“Credit Avon’s defense. Their help-side defense was just phenomenal. They were on us as soon as we crossed halfcourt. But there was a lot of standing around on our part, so it was difficult to get any offense started.”
“Everyone did his job,” Sapara said. “Our discipline got us back in the game. We made adjustments at halftime and they all bought into what we wanted to do. (It was) a team win.”
Avon guard Jack Poyle added 10 points and led everyone with six assists. Cory Strasko scored 11 points and led EC in assists with four.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon 62, Elyria Catholic 49
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (49): Cory Strasko 4-2-11, Daniel Whitacre 2-3-7, Tyler Riddell 5-2-16, John Stursa 1-0-2, Xavier Bennett 2-3-7, Ceveen Shelton 1-1-3, D.J. Graham 0-2-2, Conner Riddell 0-1-1. Totals 15-14-49.
AVON (62): Brian Kelly 9-5-28, Jack Poyle 4-2-10, Cordell Winters 3-0-6, Matt Lawrence 3-0-6, Jordan Lawrence 3-0-6, A.J. Kistler 1-0-2, Zach Gill 0-0-0, Zack Torbert 2-0-4. Totals 25-7-62.
Elyria Catholic 13 18 8 10 — 49
Avon 17 17 17 11 — 62
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic 5-11 (T. Riddell 4, Strasko), Avon 5-16 (Kelly 5). Field goals: Elyria Catholic 15-46 (32.6 percent), Avon 25-53 (47.2 percent); Free throws: Elyria Catholic 14-21 (66.7 percent), Avon 7-13 (53.8 percent). Rebounds: Elyria Catholic 27 (Stursa, Whitacre 6), Avon 29 (J. Lawrence, M. Lawrence 6). Turnovers: Elyria Catholic 13, Avon 8. Total fouls: Elyria Catholic 14, Avon 17.
Junior varsity: Avon, 49-27