AVON LAKE — The game began looking as if turnovers would decide the outcome, and the difference would be in Olmsted Falls’ favor.
As it turned out, rebounds and free throws were far bigger factors in Avon Lake’s 64-62 victory Tuesday night. Great rebounding won it for the Shoremen, even as poor free throw shooting came dangerously close to losing it for them.
Avon Lake (5-0, 4-0 Southwestern Conference) committed 12 turnovers in the first quarter, then had only 10 more the rest of the game. The Shoremen held a 27-12 rebounding edge over the last three quarters, including 12-4 in the fourth period that helped overcome missing 9 of 12 shots at the free throw line in the same quarter.
“The free throws come from being in a situation like that, and this was the first time these guys have been in that situation,” Avon Lake coach Eric Smith said. “We made plays in the fourth. The free throws would have helped, but we did a lot of good things down the stretch.”
The loss dropped Olmsted Falls to 3-3 overall and 3-1 in the SWC. The Bulldogs had two chances with less than 13 seconds to play to pull out a victory but two missed 3-point shots, the first one by Tony Lanza and the second at the buzzer by Pat Pellerite, preserved it for Avon Lake.
“We tell the kids never to be content,” Smith said. “This was a great win for us but, in the grand scheme of things, this was the fifth game of the year.”
“We have to get better,” Olmsted Falls coach Pat Donahue said. “We aren’t consistent over four quarters. Someday we’ll play a four-quarter game, but we haven’t played it yet.
“Avon Lake is a good team. They killed us on the boards. We have a bunch of 5-10 guys, but we still have to get better.”
Avon Lake’s 12 turnovers in the first period helped Olmsted Falls fashion its biggest lead at 16-7 early in the second. Avon Lake spent the second quarter chipping away at that lead. The Bulldogs were ahead 24-16 before a 12-5 run by the Shoremen whittled the difference to one point.
“A team like (Olmsted Falls) tries to make you bend to its will,” Smith said. “Tonight we were able to compose ourselves, and that was the key. The kids are starting to believe in what we do and what we do is good.”
Four lead changes and three ties highlighted the third quarter. Pellerite scored nine of his team-leading 18 points and handed out four assists in the third.
Scott Kimmey’s 3-point basket with 6:04 to play broke a 53-53 tie and gave Falls its last lead of the game. The Shoremen went on a 10-1 run to open a six-point advantage with 2:40 remaining.
Kimmey hit two free throws and Lanza sank his third 3-pointer of the evening to get the Bulldogs to within a point. Nick Firment missed a foul shot with 40.3 seconds to play, but Mike Herrilko took down the rebound. Firment went to the line again at 26.1 left and made one of two free throws for a 64-62 lead.
Brian Mielcusny rebounded Lanza’s errant 3-pointer and was fouled with 6.1 seconds to go. Both free throws were missed, and Pellerite got an open 3-point attempt in the right corner that bounced off the rim as time expired.
Avon Lake 64, Olmsted Falls 62
OLMSTED FALLS (62): Scott Kimmey 2-2-7, Tony Lanza 4-0-11, Jim Brabenec 2-2-7, Steve Battaglia 6-0-12, Pat Pellerite 7-3-18, John Atkinson 1-0-2, Mark Hurrell 1-0-3, Brandon Russo 1-0-2, Brett Emerine 0-0-0. Totals 24-7-62.
AVON LAKE (64): Tom Kuzniar 9-1-20, Nick Firment 3-4-11, Brian Mielcusny 3-1-7, Jeff Ickes 6-1-13, Mike Herrilko 1-0-2, Parker Russell 4-1-9, Tim Daniels 1-0-2, Bryce Alurovic 0-0-0. Totals 27-8-64.
Olmsted Falls 14 17 20 11 — 62
Avon Lake 7 23 21 13 — 64
Three-point goals: Olmsted Falls 7 (Lanza 3, Hurrell, Kimmey, Brabenec, Pellerite), Avon Lake 2 (Kuzniar, Firment). Rebounds: Olmsted Falls 21 (Pellerite 9), Avon Lake 32 (Herrilko 11). Turnovers: Olmsted Falls 18, Avon Lake 22. Total fouls: Olmsted Falls 19, Avon Lake 14. Fouled out: None.
Junior varsity: Olmsted Falls 63, Avon Lake 51.