After trailing by six points halfway through the fourth quarter, the Middies (8-2) bounced back to defeat Avon Lake 50-49 in a non-conference thriller that gave fans their money’s worth.
They did it with a streak of good fortune that saw them run off seven straight points to create the final score over the last 3:30. It saw Avon Lake (4-3) miss four straight foul shots in the last 1:40, two by area scoring leader Eric Stuczynski with less than one second to play.
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Their luck also featured a 3-point basket by the Middies’ Eddie Brezina with about 2:00 left that became the game-winner. It was the fourth three of the night for Brezina, who finished with a team-high 15 points. Brezina also made a huge steal in the last 45 seconds that resulted in no points, but gave Midview the chance to take a timeout.
“This is huge,” Midview’s Riley Moore, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, said. “We were 5-0 at home coming in and we really wanted to be 6-0. We didn’t play with very much intensity tonight, but at the end we picked it up. Patrick (Linn) did a great job on Eric Stuczynski and that was big.”
As Moore said, the Middies’ good fortune also came in the defensive play of Linn, also a 6-5 senior forward. Down the stretch, he defended Stuczynski, who didn’t score in the last five minutes.
Don’t be fooled. The talented Stuczynski, who went in averaging nearly 21 points a game, scored a game-high 22, including five in the fourth quarter.
“That’s probably the hardest I’ve worked on defense all year,” Linn said. “Normally, coach will put me on a big guy, but tonight we knew a little bit more about Eric. We knew he could score and he gets to the basket quick, so coach decided he wanted somebody bigger on him.”
“This was a good win and it was good to get it on our home floor,” Midview coach Troy DiFranco said. “It was a great basketball game and we had just enough.”
DiFranco said he was hoping Stuczynski would split his final two foul shots, but didn’t expect him to miss both.
“To Eric’s credit, he’s a great player and the game didn’t come down to that,” he said. “A lot of people will look at that and say, ‘He missed two free throws,’ but he was the big reason they were in the game. He’s a great player and we were fortunate.”
“I gotta believe he’s one of the best players in the county,” Shoremen coach Eric Smith said of Stuczynski. “But I mean, we missed four free throws in the last (1:40). We’re down one point. If we shoot 50 percent, we win the game.”
With Stuczynski scoring 12 first-half points, Avon Lake took a 29-25 lead into the break. The Shoremen’s Logan Dilik opened the second half with a 3-point basket, which Midview’s Brezina matched a few seconds later. Then Stuczynski went to work. He made a foul shot with 6:30 to play, then drove for back-to-back baskets less than a minute apart.
That put the Shoremen on top 47-41 with 5:01 to go, but when junior guard Jimmy Hessell also drove to the hoop with about four minutes left he scored their final points of the night.
Linn and D.J. Johnson countered with baskets of their own, and they set the table for Brezina’s game-winning 3-pointer. Johnson, who scored 12 points, was the only other Midview player in double figures.
Both Moore and DiFranco also gave credit to Midview’s student section for playing a role in the victory. The students are behind the visitors’ basket for the second half, and their foot-stomping and cheering were distracting. The Shoremen made just two of eight foul shots the second half.
“Give Midview credit, but I don’t think we played very well,” Smith said. “I don’t think we were ready to play, I don’t think we were prepared to come out and play for whatever reason. But that’s on me. I didn’t have them ready to play.”
Midview 50, Avon Lake 49
AVON LAKE (49): Seth Muck 1-0-3, Nick Stephenson 0-0-0, Logan Dilik 4-0-11, Jimmy Hessell 2-0-4, Eric Stuczynski 8-4-22, Zach Scott 1-0-2, Brandon Murway 2-0-4, Brad Hamilton 1-0-3. Totals 19-4-49.
MIDVIEW (50): Michael Snoddy 0-2-2, Eddie Brezina 6-0-16, D.J. Johnson 5-2-12, Justin Morris 2-0-4, Steven Gott 0-0-0, Patrick Linn 3-0-6, Arlington McClinton 2-0-4, Riley Moore 3-0-6. Totals 21-4-50.
Avon Lake 12 17 10 10 — 49
Midview 15 10 11 14 — 50
Three-point goals: Avon Lake 7-15 (Dilik 3, Stuczynski 2, Muck, Hamilton); Midview 4-9 (Brezina 4). Field goals: Avon Lake 19-34 (55.1 percent); Midview 21-39 (53.9 percent). Free throws: Avon Lake 4-10; Midview 4-6. Rebounds: Avon Lake 17; Midview 26. Turnovers: Avon Lake 7; Midview 7.
Junior varsity: Avon Lake, 47-43.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.