AVON LAKE -- Amherst’s defense had Avon Lake stuck in neutral as the Comets nursed a three-point lead in the fourth quarter Tuesday night.
The Shoremen finally kicked their offense into gear, though, using a 15-3 run to grab a 61-53 victory in Southwestern Conference play.
All 15 points for Avon Lake (7-3, 5-1 SWC) came on layups or at the free throw line as Creed Bolognia, Nick Marsh and Nate Sidloski (13 points) each scored two points, Jordan Ball had four points and a pair of assists off steals and sophomore Tanner Russell scored five of his 11 points.
“We’re a quick team and we have to keep running when we get the chance,” Russell said. “We’ve got J-Ball, who is probably the quickest kid in the conference, and when we get going like that, we can be tough to stop.”
The Comets had the Shoremen at a near-stop through the first three quarters, thanks to a 2-3 zone that slowed the pace.
“We had a game plan and we stuck to that game plan,” Amherst coach Pat Bray said. “We’re not a team that’s gonna go out there and shoot out the lights. We have to play good defense, slow the game down and make our shots when we have the chance.”
Amherst made more than its share, hitting 16 of 32 through the first three quarters to trail just 43-42.
The Comets (2-7, 1-5) spread things out, with seven players scoring. Alec Dimacchia led the way with 14 points, Gehrig Gabrie hit three 3-pointers on his way to 13 points and Ryan Hritsko was close behind with nine.
Amherst started the fourth by getting a midrange jumper from Troy Toth and a layup from Gabrie for a 46-43 lead.
Unfortunately for the Comets, they only scored one more field goal over the next six minutes on a short jumper by Hritsko as the Shoremen lead ballooned to 58-49 before Matt Fairchild scored for the Comets with 57 seconds left in the game.
Ball sealed the win by hitting four three throws in the final 41 seconds.
“They came out in that 2-3 and it was hard for us to adjust,” Ball said. “We aren’t used to that in the SWC. We made some adjustments, turning up the pressure, and we were finally able to get the offense moving fast like we like it.”
“(Amherst) played the zone really well and I thought we were passive and we had to attack more in the second half,” Avon Lake coach Eric Smith said. “We finally got some easier shots in the third and fourth quarter, getting the ball into the post and kicking it out.
“We wanted to play a lot faster and we have guys like Jordan, Tanner, Nick Marsh and Sid (Nate Sidloski), who can all get out and run. Amherst just did a great job of slowing us down.”
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon Lake 61, Amherst 53
AMHERST (53): Kyle Ferguson 1-0-2, Troy Toth 2-2-7, Scott Iliff 0-0-0, Gehrig Gabrie 5-0-13, Ryan Hritsko 4-1-9, Max Strauser 0-0-0, Alec Dimacchia 5-4-14, Matt Fairchild 1-0-2, Greg Rhodes 3-0-6. Totals 21-7-53.
AVON LAKE (61): Andrew Butrey 2-0-6, Nick Vittardi 1-0-3, Tanner Russell 4-1-11, Cole Schraff 0-0-0, Nate Sidloski 3-5-13, Jordan Ball 7-5-19, Nick Marsh 3-0-6, Creed Bolognia 1-1-3. Totals 21-12-61.
Amherst 12 18 12 11 — 53
Avon Lake 14 15 14 18 — 61
Three-point goals: Amherst 4-15 (Gabrie 3, Toth), Avon Lake 7-16 (Butrey 2, Russell 2, Sidloski 2, Vittardi); Field goals: Amherst 21-44 (48 percent), Avon Lake 21-38 (55 percent); Free throws: Amherst 7-8 (88 percent), Avon Lake 12-18 (67 percent); Rebounds: Amherst 26, Avon Lake 17; Turnovers: Amherst 12, Avon Lake 9.
Junior varsity: Amherst, 38-33