AVON — Taevon Pierre-Louis, Lorain’s 6-foot-6 senior and three-year letterman, became a nightmare for Avon in the fourth quarter Tuesday night.
Pierre-Louis took over the game just when the fourth-ranked Titans needed it most. He scored 15 of his game-high 26 points in the final quarter to lead Lorain to a 66-52 non-conference win over the Eagles (14-7) that was anything but a breeze. He also led Lorain (20-1) with eight rebounds.
“We wanted to prove that (Avon) can’t be in the same gym with us and compete at our level,” Pierre-Louis said. “They’re a good team, they’re a solid team. I felt we weren’t putting the right pressure on them. In the second half, I felt like we played harder and smarter.”
“He sees the end coming,” Lorain coach John Rositano said. “He’s been a man on a mission the last third of the season. He got after it for that five- or six-minute stretch. (Avon) had nobody athletically or strength-wise that could compete with him. He just took the game over.”
Avon played step for step with Lorain most of the night. Lorain led 28-27 at the half and the Eagles grabbed the lead, 33-32, off a Dean Emerine 3-pointer with 4:38 left in the third quarter. Avon had the favored Titans on their collective heels with a crisp, quick-passing offense and patience — and a hot night from senior Jake Parker.
“We probably needed a game like this because we took them for granted a little bit,” Rositano said. “We took the court like we were just going to walk on the court because we’re Lorain and just beat them. Sports doesn’t work that way. (Avon) has a lot of pride. They’re well-coached. They do a good job.”
Parker was 6-of-10 from the 3-point line and wound up with 20 points. He had a knack for knocking down a big shot just when it appeared the Titans were on the verge of going on one of their patented runs.
“He’s been good for us all year,” Avon coach Kevin Sapara said. “Senior, captain — he can do a lot of good things. He’s a very versatile player.
“We were trying to be disciplined. Try to take and make open shots. Just run through our offense and be as patient as we can under their pressure. I thought we did a good job of that, especially early on. Some of the turnovers turned into quick points for them. That hurts. That’s a team that does that really well.”
Lorain, led by Pierre-Louis’ ball hawking, forced Avon into eight fourth-quarter turnovers. Pierre-Louis managed to score off four of those with thunderous throwdowns.
Leading scorer Devon Grant was guarded closely by Niko Pappas most of the night. It was Pappas’ job to keep the ball out of the high-scoring Titan’s hands. Grant finished with 13 points but took only 10 shots from the floor. He did have seven rebounds.
Jordan Jackson added 10 points. Kam Davis, Lorain’s defensive specialist, had a couple of key baskets in the third quarter when the Titans started to separate themselves. He and Deonte Benejan each had seven points.
“I just had to find a way to bring the team energy,” Davis said. “I’m getting more confident (in shooting) as the season progresses.”
Avon outrebounded the Titans 31-26. Ronier Barrett-Reed led the rebounding with seven and Parker, Pappas, Emerine and Joey Lance hustled their way to four each.
“We’re definitely proud of our guys and their effort,” Sapara said. “We wanted to come out and compete. We definitely did that. When we were taking care of the ball, we were playing at a high level and doing a really good job.”
As most teams that play Lorain find out sooner or later, the defensive pressure takes its toll. Shots start coming up short, passes get picked off and the traps start catching up. Avon, after turning the ball over only five times in the first half and none in the first quarter, turned it over 14 times in the second half.
“It did over time,” Rositano said. “They started throwing it around a little bit. We caused some turnovers and got some easy run-outs. That’s got to be that way for 32 minutes.”
Lorain 66, Avon 52
LORAIN (66): Jordan Jackson 3-3-10, Taevon Pierre-Louis 11-4-26, Devon Grant 5-2-13, Deonte Benejan 3-1-7, Kam Davis 3-0-7, Aiden Brown 0-0-0, Aaron Whitehead 1-0-3. Totals 26-10-66.
AVON (52): Niko Pappas 2-0-4, Cole Warren 2-0-6, Jake Parker 7-0-20, Dean Emerine 4-0-9, Ronier Barrett-Reed 4-1-9, Joey Lance 0-1-1, Brandon Doehne 1-1-3, Dominic Rini 0-0-0. Totals 20-3-52.
Lorain 13 15 16 22 —66
Avon 14 13 11 14 —52
Three-point goals: Lorain 4-15 (Jackson, Grant, Davis, Whitehead), Avon 9-21 (Parker 6, Warren 2, Emerine). Field goals: Lorain 26-47 (55 percent), Avon 20-47 (42.5 percent). Free throws: Lorain 10-15 (66 percent), Avon 3-6 (50 percent). Rebounds: Lorain 26 (Pierre-Louis 8), Avon 31 (Barrett-Reed 7). Turnovers: Lorain 11, Avon 19. Fouls: Lorain 12, Avon 13.
Junior varsity: Lorain, 55-43.