NORTH RIDGEVILLE - It got a little dicey for highly touted Avon against winless North Ridgeville on Friday night.
The Eagles needed a flurry of late free throws to break open a close game and top the Rangers 60-46 in the West Shore Conference.
Led by junior Claude Gray (20 points) and senior Marvin Coleman (16 points), Avon pulled away in the last four minutes.
The Rangers had trimmed a nine-point Eagles lead to four with 4:11 left in the game, but were unable to take advantage of opportunities down the stretch.
North Ridgeville was forced to foul to get the ball back, and Avon converted 9 of 11 free throws to spoil the strategy.
Avon improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the WSC. North Ridgeville fell to 0-3, 0-1.
"We knew we were in for a battle tonight," Avon coach Jim Baker said.
"They haven't had a lot of success in their first two games, but I knew doggone well what we were in for tonight. I thought they just battled like crazy.
"Hopefully what we learned tonight makes us a better team."
The teams played evenly throughout the game until the final four-minute stretch.
"I'm extremely proud of our kids tonight," North Ridgeville coach Bill Noggle said.
"I don't think we gave up in those first two games (losses to Collinwood and Avon Lake), because we played as hard as we could.
"I'm proud of the way we played tonight. We lost to a very good Avon team. Jim Baker is a great coach and they are one of the best teams in the conference.
"It got a little chippy there at the end, but that happens. It's Avon.
"We made a run at them in the fourth quarter and got it to four points, but we had two bad possessions in a row and that hurt us."
Gray and Coleman made most of their points in the paint, getting rebounds and putbacks for easy baskets.
Seven Eagles got into the scoring column while six of the seven Rangers who played also scored.
Contact Ron Nenadal at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Avon 60, North Ridgeville 46
AVON (60): Claude Gray 7-5-20, Marvin Coleman 7-1-16, R.J. Kauffman 1-5-8, Mike Maloney 1-4-7, Ryan Poyle 1-1-4, Conner Friss 1-0-3, Ryan Carge 1-0-2, Matt Haney 0-0-0, Ryan Ladegaard 0-0-0. Totals 19-15-60.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (46): Danny Montgomery 4-7-16, Nate Alpine 4-0-8, Chris Striebing 3-0-6, Mark Szylakowski 3-1-8, Ben Nelson 2-3-7, Anthony Grazetti 0-1-1 Ryan Saleet 0-0-0, Andrew Sismour 0-0-0. Totals 16-12-46.
Avon 16 16 10 18 - 60
N. Ridgeville 14 13 8 11 - 46
Three-point goals: Avon 6 (Kauffman, Maloney Friss, Poyle, Coleman, Gray); North Ridgeville 2 (Montgomery, Szylakowski). Field goals: Vermilion 19-40 (42 percent). North Ridgeville 16-31 (51 percent). Free throws: Avon 15-24 (62 percent); North Ridgeville 12-17 (70 percent). Rebounds: Avon 23 (Coleman 8); North Ridgeville 16 (Alpine 7). Turnovers: Avon 10, North Ridgeville 12.
Junior Varsity: Avon 51-40.