July 30, 2014

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Boys basketball: Shoremen roll to 17th straight

AVON LAKE — If the Shoremen considered Tuesday night’s 48-29 victory over Westlake a statement game, then senior Collin Holmes’ two-handed dunk in the final minutes was definitely the exclamation point.

The reserve guard scored Avon Lake’s final basket in dramatic fashion, bringing the home student section to its feet and punctuating his unbeaten team’s 17th straight victory — believed to be a school record.

“That was my first dunk in a game, I do it all the time during practice,” Holmes said. “It was kind of surreal, I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t even planning on dunking it. I was up that high, so I just threw it down.”

It was the kind of high-percentage shot the Demons must have been envying. Westlake (9-8, 8-4 Southwestern Conference) made only eight of 31 attempted during the game, missing several uncontested layups along the way.

“You’ve got to make shots,” Demons coach Bob Patton said. “We needed some of those in the third quarter. The lead was around eight or 10 the whole time, and two or three times that quarter we missed breakaway layups — wide-open looks out of transition.

“We get one or two of those to go down and maybe it’s a different game.”

It was a different game during the teams’ first meeting. The Shoremen squeaked out a 51-48 victory on the road — the closest any team’s come to beating them this season. The Demons also had several players in the lineup for the first meeting that are no longer on the team, although no explanation was offered by Patton.

“We’re fine, we’re fine … that’s not an issue,” Patton said.

The Shoremen’s defense was an issue — a huge issue — for the Demons.

“Anything we want to do starts with our defense,” Shoremen coach Eric Smith said. “It’s the basis for everything we do. We’ve allowed 21, 28 and 29 (points) the past three games. That’s the way this program is designed.”

On the other side of the ball, senior guard Ronnie Willoughby once again led the way for the Shoremen. He finished with a game-high 15 points and nine rebounds. Holmes, who scored seven fourth-quarter points, added 12 and junior Eric Stuczynski finished with 11 points and five rebounds.

The win makes Avon Lake 12-0 in the SWC, and a win on the road Friday against North Olmsted could clinch a share of the league championship. It would be the Shoremen’s first conference title in 16 years.

“That’s one of our big goals for the season,” Stuczynski said. “That would be an exciting accomplishment for our players and our team.”

The Shoremen finish with home games against Lorain and Brecksville next week. The Bees are second in the SWC with one loss.

“This is a big stretch for us,” Smith said. “We’re playing for keeps now. Not that the last 16 games weren’t important, but we knew that we wanted to finish strong and there was a lot riding on these last four games.

“We got after them a little bit at practice this week.”

The Demons kept up with Avon Lake for most of the first half thanks to the hustle and long-distance shooting of senior guard Jason Labroo, who finished with a team-high 14 points. But the rest of the team didn’t give Labroo enough support to keep up the pace in the final two quarters.

“We were getting defensive stops, we had our opportunities and we just didn’t make our shots,” Patton said. “We had two starters that average close to double figures, and they finished with zeros next to their names. When you have two guys you rely on put up doughnuts … that hurts.”

Read more boys basketball

Avon Lake 48, Westlake 29

WESTLAKE (29): Max Rodriguez 1-0-2, Bryan Mackenzie 2-2-6, Matt Leonard 0-0-0, Danny Strodtbeck 0-0-0, Shawn Turk 1-2-5, Jason Labroo 3-6-14, Grant Gase 0-0-0, Andrew Guirguis 0-0-0, Gavin Skelly 1-0-2. Totals 8-10-29.

AVON LAKE (48): Jay Seaton 0-0-0, Nick Stephenson 0-0-0, Dan Reichlin 1-2-4, Ronnie Willoughby 4-6-15, Logan Dilik 0-0-0, Collin Holmes 4-4-12, Eric Stuczynski 5-0-11, Hunter Stephens 0-0-0, Zach Scott 0-0-0, Brandon Murway 0-2-2, Jacob Boudreaux 0-0-0, Andrew Bohan 0-0-0, Trent Toy 2-0-4. Totals 16-14-48.

Westlake 10 7 8 4 — 29

Avon Lake 14 9 12 13 — 48

Three-point goals: Westlake 3 of 17 (Labroo 2, Turk); Avon Lake 2 of 6 (Stuczynski, Willoughby). Field goals: Westlake 8 of 31 (26 percent); Avon Lake 16 of 36 (44 percent). Free throws: Westlake 10 of 13 (77 percent); Avon Lake 14 of 17 (82 percent). Rebounds: Westlake 18 (Gase 7); Avon Lake 26 (Willoughby 9). Turnovers: Westlake 14; Avon Lake 11. Fouled out: Toy. Total fouls: Westlake 16, Avon Lake 15. Junior varsity: Avon Lake, 43-37.

Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or sbennett@chroniclet.com.