Avon's Ronier Barrett-Reed shoots over Avon Lake's Creed Bolognia Jan. 25. STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE
AVON — Getting better every day has been the mantra for Avon Lake.
As of late, things have started rounding into shape on both ends of the floor for the Shoremen, who used a stout defensive effort Friday night to beat crosstown rival Avon
57-44 in Southwestern Conference action.
Avon Lake improved to 8-7 overall and 5-6 in the SWC, while the Eagles fell to (9-5, 6-5).
“We’re trending upward,” Avon Lake coach Eric Smith said. “We were able to get out in transition, which was something I thought we could do. I thought the real key to the entire game was we controlled the defensive end.
“They got a couple second-chance points in the second half, but I thought for the most part we limited their second-chance opportunities. We were able to get out and run, get some easy ones and if we didn’t have it, we ran some really good offense.”
The Shoremen shot well from the field, knocking down 23 of 41 field goals, but it was the work on defense that allowed them to gain an early advantage and never look back.
Avon Lake forced three turnovers but more importantly contested most of Avon’s shots and held the Eagles to just five points in the first quarter.
Things didn’t get much better for Avon on the offensive end over the final 24 minutes. The Shoremen held the Eagles to 30.9-percent shooting from the field and just 1-of-17 (5.9 percent) from 3-point range for the game.
“In the half court, I thought we sat down and defended, took some things away from them that we knew they wanted to do,” Smith said. “I thought we defended the perimeter extremely well and we did the things that we needed to do. If you play good half-court defense and run sound half-court offense, you’re going to give yourself a chance.”
Avon coach Kevin Sapara thought the Shoremen’s quick start had his team on its heels.
“They jumped us at the beginning and we just couldn’t fight back and get it to where we needed it to be to make a run at the end,” he said. “I’ve got to give them credit for that. I’ve got to get our guys ready to play better at the beginning of games. That’s on me, and we’ve just got to try and learn from this and turn the page.”
The Shoremen got double-digit scoring efforts from juniors Nick Marsh and Tanner Russell, as well as senior guard Cole Schraff. Marsh led the way with 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds, while Russell and Schraff added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“We ran our offense and got the ball to the open guy,” Smith said. “We shared the basketball and I thought that’s what was great about the first half. We executed and got a great shot every time down the floor if we didn’t have it in transition.”
Smith felt Friday’s game was a microcosm of the second half of Avon Lake’s season, when players have “bought in” to the game plan and are seeing results.
“That’s how you know it’s a good basketball team, when they’re unselfish, they play hard and they don’t care who gets the credit as long as we win,” he said. “At Christmas time, I wasn’t really sure if we had an identity as a basketball team and that was the one thing we had to develop. I think we’ve developed that over the last couple of weeks.”
Contact Matt Florjancic at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon Lake 57, Avon 44
AVON LAKE (57): Nick Marsh 7-1-15, Cristian Perry 2-0-5, Tanner Russell 6-0-12, Cole Schraff 2-6-10, Nate Sidloski 3-0-6, Creed Bolognia 1-2-4, Nate Murtaugh 2-0-5. Totals 23-9-57.
AVON (44): Niko Pappas 1-0-2, Cole Warren 2-0-4, Ryan Maloy
1-1-3, Joey Lance 0-2-2, Jake Parker 2-4-8, Brandon Doenhe
1-0-2, Dean Emerine 5-0-11, Dominic Rini 1-1-3, Ronnier Barrett-Reed 4-1-9. Totals 17-9-44.
Avon Lake 11 16 12 18 — 57
Avon 5 11 10 18 — 44
Three-point goals: Avon Lake 2-9 (22.2 percent, Murtaugh, Perry), Avon 1-17 (5.9 percent, Emerine). Field goals: Avon Lake 23-41 (56.1 percent), Avon 17-55 (30.9 percent). Free throws: Avon Lake 9-15 (60 percent), Avon 9-15 (60 percent). Rebounds: Avon Lake 33, Avon 31. Turnovers: Avon Lake 16, Avon 8.
Junior varsity: Avon Lake 44-34