NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Avon’s run to the Division II state championship game in football delayed the Eagles basketball team’s season almost two weeks. They finally got on the court Tuesday night for a West Shore Conference game against North Ridgeville.
Avon coach Jim Baker went into the game not sure what to expect after having his full team for just three practices as Ralph Smith, Matt Holkenborg and Jeremiah Burris made the transition from the field to the court this past Thursday.
What Baker got was a stellar defensive effort as the Eagles grabbed a huge first-quarter lead en route to a 56-33 rout of the Rangers.
“We just got our football players on Thursday and those guys are all winners,” said Baker. “Their presence kind of picked up the whole team and gave us a breath of fresh air. We knew that offensively we probably wouldn’t be where we want to be but that we could take care of things defensively.
“I thought everyone really defended out there tonight. Our kids impressed me with how they approached this game and with what they did out there.”
Avon trailed only once — 2-0 — as North Ridgeville’s Andrew Sismour made the first basket of the game. The next seven North Ridgeville possessions ended with five turnovers and two missed shots as Avon went on a 9-0 run. A free throw by the Rangers’ Nolan Freeman halted the Avon attack briefly, before a 3-pointer by Avon’s Nate Penman ignited a 10-0 quarter-closing run by the Eagles.
Avon’s Claude Gray scored five of his game-high 19 points during the final 2:09 of the first quarter, but deflected the attention afterward to the Eagles defense.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” said Gray, who also had six boards, three assists and three blocks. “We just kept attacking and pressuring them. We work on our defense quite a bit in practice and coach always says that defense wins games.
“It certainly did tonight.”
Avon continued its defensive clinic in the second quarter by holding the Rangers scoreless until Zach See’s basket with 2:08 left in the half made the score 25-5 in favor of the Eagles. North Ridgeville, which committed 11 turnovers in the first quarter, had another five in the second and hit only two of 10 shots from the field. The result was a commanding 29-8 halftime lead in favor of Avon.
North Ridgeville (0-4, 0-2 WSC) came out and nearly kept pace with Avon (27-25) in the second half. However, first-half lead was too much to overcome.
“I wasn’t pleased with how we started this game,” said North Ridgeville coach Bill Noggle. “We have to find ways to start games quicker. We can’t expect to score points when we are turning the ball over.”
Avon’s Jack Poyle joined Gray in double-figures with 11 points as 11 Avon players scored. See led North Ridgeville with nine points and five rebounds.
Avon 56, North Ridgeville 33
AVON (56): Claude Gray 8-2-19, Jack Poyle 5-0-11, AJ Kistler 1-4-6, Nick Redilla 2-0-4, Mike Maloney 1-1-3, Nate Penman 1-0-3, Cordell Winters 1-0-2, Brian Kelly 1-0-2, Ralph Smith 1-0-2, Matt Holkenborg 1-0-2, Matt Lawrence 1-0-2. Totals 23-7-56.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (33): Zach See 4-1-9, Andrew Sismour 3-0-6, Bailey Gannon 1-3-6, Dan Teitenberg 1-2-4, Nolan Freeman 1-1-3, Matt Clark 1-1-3, James Schwarzer 0-2-2. Totals 11-10-33.
Avon 19 10 17 10 — 56
North Ridgeville 3 5 14 11 — 33
Three-point goals: Avon 3 of 10 (Gray, Poyle, Penman), North Ridgeville 1 of 13 (Gannon). Field goals: Avon 20 of 48 (42 percent), North Ridgeville 11 of 40 (28 percent). Free throws: Avon 7 of 8 (88 percent), North Ridgeville 10 of 14 (71 percent). Rebounds: Avon 32 (Kistler, 6 Gray 6), North Ridgeville 15 (See 5). Turnovers: Avon 19, North Ridgeville 24. Total fouls: Avon 15, North Ridgeville 12. Technical foul: None. Fouled out: None.
Junior varsity: Avon, 40-39.
Contact Hans Schneider at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.