EATON TWP. — Before the season began, more than a few people thought Friday night’s season finale between Avon and Midview might just be for the West Shore Conference championship.
But Avon lost to Bay on a 50-foot buzzer-beater three weeks ago to fall two games back and Midview never blinked on the way to clinching the WSC title last weekend.
Still, both teams had motivation going into the game. Midview was going for a school-record 16th straight win on Senior Night, while Avon’s imagined it was playing in a one-game, winner-take-all tournament.
When it was over, Midview cut down the nets but Avon took away some of the joy with a 59-54 win.
“We talked about stopping their winning streak,” Avon coach Jim Baker said. “They were undefeated at home and we talked about making this our own little championship game. We wanted to come out tonight and show that we are as good as anybody in this league.
“I think we did that.”
Avon (13-7, 9-3 WSC) made its move early in the second quarter as senior Claude Gray put the Eagles on his back. Trailing 18-16, Gray hit back-to-back baskets for his first points of the game to cut the Midview lead in half at 21-20.
Midview cut the lead to 24-23, but Gray scored four points during a 7-3 Avon run that pushed the Eagles’ advantage to 31-26 at halftime.
Gray wasn’t done.
He scored the opening and closing baskets of the third quarter as Avon raised its lead to 45-35. Gray continued his scoring in the fourth with a bucket and a pair of free throws to put Avon up 49-35 with 7:27 left.
Staring at its largest deficit of the game, Midview made a charge behind Brezina.
The senior guard scored eight straight points as the Middies cut the lead to 51-43 with 4:57 remaining. Brezina’s basket with 59.9 seconds left pulled Midview to within 53-49. However, Gray came up big again in the final minute.
He hit a pair of free throws with 39 seconds to play to put Avon up 56-50, then was fouled after he stole a Patrick Linn pass and hit both free throws to give the Eagles a 57-51 lead with :21 left.
Gray scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the line.
“I was just playing my game and letting it come to me,” said Gray, who also had a game-high 11 rebounds. “We wanted to come on their home court and show that we’re competitive too. We wanted to show that we could have won it (WSC) too.”
The loss dropped Midview to 17-3 overall and 10-2 in the WSC.
“(Avon) came out hungrier than we did,” Midview coach Troy DiFranco said. “We didn’t play very hard in the beginning. Finally, in the fourth quarter we decided that it was time to turn it up a notch but it was too late. But these kids have accomplished so much and I am so proud of them.”
Contact Hans Schneider at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon 59, Midview 54
AVON (59): Claude Gray 8-7-23, Jack Poyle 5-1-12, Mike Maloney 3-1-9, Ryan Poyle 3-1-7, Nate Penman 2-0-4, Matt Holkenborg 1-0-2. Matt Lawrence 1-0-2. Totals 23-10-59.
MIDVIEW (54): Eddie Brezina 6-4-20, Riley 4-3-11, DJ Johnson 4-0-10, Patrick Linn 2-1-5, Justin Morris 1-2-4, Steven Gott 1-0-2, Arlington McClinton 1-0-2. Totals 19-9-54.
Avon 14 17 14 14 — 59
Midview 16 10 9 19 — 54
Three-point goals: Avon 3 (Maloney, J. Poyle), Midview 6 (Brezina 4, Johnson 2). Field goals: Avon 23-42 (55 percent), Midview 19-40 (48 percent). Free throws: Avon 10-15 (67 percent), Midview 9-13 (69 percent). Rebounds: Avon 20 (Gray 11), Midview 22 (Moore 7). Turnovers: Avon 15, Midview 17. Total fouls: Avon 10, Midview 13.
Junior varsity: Avon, 53-48