ELYRIA — Avon dealt itself another blackjack when it mattered most.
After scoring 21 in the first quarter, the Eagles could only muster 20 over the next two against Elyria Catholic, but they responded with 21 more in the final period to secure a 62-56 West Shore Conference win Friday night.
“I had nine guys playing their hearts out through that fourth quarter,” Elyria Catholic coach Jason Smith said. “Our defense at times was picking it up and forcing turnovers, but in that fourth quarter our defense wasn’t there.”
Free throws were critical down the stretch with Avon connecting on six of seven.
With 2:05 to play, Smith threw his towel in frustration and drew a technical. Avon’s Brian Kelly drained both free throws to break a tie at 53. Eight of Kelly’s 14 points came at the line, where he only missed one attempt. He also had seven rebounds.
“Free throws are easy points,” Kelly said. “When I was getting denied in the second half I had to find another way to score and that was at the line.”
Avon (3-1, 2-1 WSC) forced a turnover on the next play and turned it in points as Jack Poyle received a pass in transition and converted a reverse layup off a strong drive to the bucket, giving Avon a 57-53 lead.
The Panthers (1-4, 1-2) got back within a possession at 58-56 with 14 seconds left, but Poyle hit two pressure free throws. He led the Eagles with 20 points and grabbed four rebounds.
“I just blocked everything out and tried to knock them down,” Poyle said. “Their student section was getting really loud, but I just focused.”
Elyria Catholic’s defense clamped down in the second and third quarters, holding the Eagles to nine points in the second as it mounted a 9-2 run through the first five minutes. Avon didn’t score a field goal during that span, finally ending the drought at the 2:40 mark.
Xavier Bennett scored six of his team-high 12 points in the third quarter for the Panthers as they took a one-point lead into the fourth. He also had a team-high nine rebounds.
“My goal for tonight was to play good defense and rebound as best as I can,” Bennett said.
Avon’s Jordan Lawrence led the Eagles on the glass with 10 boards. He completed his double-double with 10 points.
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Avon 62, Elyria Catholic 56
AVON (62): Cordell Winters 0-2-2, A.J. Kistler 1-0-2, Jordan Lawrence 4-2-10, Brian Kelly 2-8-14, Jack Poyle 5-9-20, Zach Gill 3-0-8, Matt Lawrence 1-2-4, Ralph Smith 0-0-0, Mike Pulice 0-0-0, Zach Torbert 0-0-0, Brad Sprecher 1-0-2, Walter Rauterkus 0-0-0. Totals 17-23-62.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (56): John Stursa 3-3-11, Cory Strasko 2-3-7, Daniel Whitacre 0-5-5, Tyler Riddell 1-0-3, Conner Riddell 2-3-7, D.J. Graham 3-1-7, Ceeven Shelton 0-1-1, Xavier Bennett 5-2-12, Angelo Cruz 1-0-3. Totals 17-18-56.
Avon 21 9 11 21 — 62
Elyria Catholic 14 15 13 14 — 56
3-point goals: Avon 5-16 (31.2 percent, Kelly 2, Gill 2, Poyle), Elyria Catholic 4-14 (28.5 percent, Stursa 2, T. Riddell, Cruz); Field goals: Avon 17-45 (37.7 percent), Elyria Catholic 17-50 (34 percent); Free throws: Avon 23-31 (74.1 percent), Elyria Catholic 18-25 (72 percent); Rebounds: Avon 31 (Lawrence 10), Elyria Catholic 29 (Bennett 9); Turnovers: Avon 12, Elyria Catholic 13. Total fouls: Avon 19, Elyria Catholic 22.
Junior varsity: Elyria Catholic, 52-43.