AMHERST — Intensity is rarely lacking when Avon Lake and Amherst square off and Tuesday night was no exception.
Things got chippy at one point between the Southwestern Conference rivals but cooler heads prevailed — as did the Shoremen, who picked up a 63-51 win.
Avon Lake improved to 12-6, 10-4 in the SWC, while Amherst fell 2-16 and 0-14.
“It’s an Amherst-Avon Lake game so you know teams are going to play hard at each other,” Avon Lake coach Eric Smith said. “There was no dirty play, just two teams playing hard.”
The Shoremen were in control the entire game though they could never quite put the game away until late. They took a 5-3 lead with an early jumper from David Marsh and sustained that lead the remainder of the game.
Still, their lead never grew to more than 15 points, however, as the Comets did a good job of staying within striking distance.
“We’re good enough to get close but once we do I just don’t know where our mind-state goes,” Amherst coach Pat Bray said. “Its not about the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog and I need these guys to show that.”
Amherst pulled within 17-14 early in the second quarter on a 15-foot jumper from freshman Kyle Ferguson, only to have the Shoremen respond with a 7-0 run.
That spurt helped Avon Lake take a 25-16 lead into halftime after a low-scoring second quarter.
Barris Coleman set the tone for Avon Lake in the first half, scoring 12 of his 27 points and pulling down six of his 13 rebounds.
“It’s all about heart and just going after it,” Coleman said. “Even when I missed shots I just tried my best to hit the offensive boards and put it back in.”
Five of those rebounds came on the offensive end, where the Shoremen dominated. Avon Lake had as many first-half offensive rebounds (nine) as the Comets had total rebounds.
“We understood we had an advantage with our post players and we did a good job capitalizing on that,” Smith said.
Things got a bit heated early in the fourth quarter when Coleman went up for what looked like an easy layup. He was instead wrapped up around the neck by Amherst’s Johnny Matakovich, causing Coleman to hit the floor.
Coleman and many of the Shoremen took offense to the hard foul and Coleman’s reaction drew a technical foul. Matakovich was charged with an intentional foul.
After the game Coleman and Matakovich recognized it was nothing but a hard play in an intense game.
“I know it was just part of the game and in the heat of the moment,” Coleman said. “He even told me that, so I understand. There’s no hard feelings.”
Coleman scored eight quick points for Avon Lake shortly thereafter as the Shoremen built a 55-42 lead with just over two minutes remaining.
Amherst knocked down a few jumpers late but couldn’t get over the hump as Avon Lake put the game on ice.
Mark Pappas chipped in 15 points for the Shoremen.
For the game, Avon Lake outrebounded the Comets 31-20 and had 13 offensive rebounds.
“One of our top goals is to outrebound the other team every night,” Smith said. “I thought we did a really nice job of doing that and also playing pretty good defense.”
Contact Paul Williams at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Avon Lake 63, Amherst 51
AVON LAKE (63): David Marsh 4-2-10, Jordan Ball 1-4-6, Mark Pappas 5-4-15, Carson Toy 2-0-5, Barris Coleman 10-7-27, Luke Martinsen 0-0-0, Ryan Sidloski 0-0-0, Nate Sikloski 0-0-0. Totals 22-17-63.
AMHERST (51): Dominic Zappa 1-0-2, Johnny Matakovich 4-2-12, Jaiden Sledge 4-1-9, Carter Zajkowski 3-2-9, Gehrig Gabrie 3-0-7, Kyle Ferguson 1-0-2, Alec Dimacchia 4-0-10. Totals 20-5-51.
Avon Lake 17 8 14 24 — 63
Amherst 12 4 12 23 — 51
Three point goals: Avon Lake 2-12 (Pappas, Toy), Amherst 6-16 (Matakovich 2, Dimacchia 2, Zajkowski, Gabrie). Field goals: Avon Lake 22-46 (47 percent), Amherst 20-48 (41 percent). Free throws: Avon Lake 17-23 (74 percent), Amherst 5-7 (71 percent). Rebounds: Avon Lake 31 (Coleman 13), Amherst 20 (Zajkowski 7). Total fouls: Avon Lake 9, Amherst 15. Turnovers: Avon Lake 5, Amherst 8.
Junior varsity: Avon Lake, 49-45