WESTLAKE — It’s early in the season, which means Avon Lake’s win over Westlake on Friday night had more going for it than just the knocking off of the Southwestern Conference favorite.
Avon Lake (2-2, 1-2 SWC) defeated previously unbeaten Westlake (4-1, 2-1) at the Demons’ home. The Shoremen held Westlake to 27-percent field-goal shooting, but that wasn’t the big story for Shoremen coach Eric Smith.
“That has been how we’ve played defense all year,” Smith said. “What we haven’t done is played an entire 32 minutes of solid basketball. Tonight was a huge step forward. We played our best game of team basketball so far. We showed some maturity.
“Tonight we shared the ball, we worked for open shots, we handled Westlake’s pressure very well,”
Smith continued: “Westlake likes to pressure you full-court, then make you speed it up in the frontcourt and play faster than you would like. I don’t know how many turnovers we had, but it couldn’t have been many.”
It was only nine — a figure that helped immensely, as Avon Lake was outrebounded 37-25 and wasn’t exactly ablaze shooting the ball (36 percent from the field, 12-of-23 at the foul line). Of Avon Lake’s 16 field goals, nine came off assists.
“A ton of guys played really well,” Smith said. “The guard play was so good. Our big guy (6-foot-7 senior Mitch Gabanic) did an outstanding job on (Gavin) Skelly. He made Skelly, who’s a real good player, work for his points.”
Skelly, a 6-8 junior, scored 11 points, all in the second half.
“I had to stay down and not draw fouls,” Gabanic said. “(Skelly) takes it up strong.”
When Skelly is stopped inside, he can kick it out to some accurate outside shooters. Westlake made only seven perimeter shots and was 4-of-16 from 3-point range.
“We had great perimeter defense, too,” Gabanic said. “Our outside defenders — Seth (Muck), Jimmy (Hessel), Christian (Jones) — put a hand in everyone’s face.”
The Shoremen went on an 11-2 run to take a 13-8 lead and were ahead by as much as 22-10, holding Westlake to no points for more than seven minutes. But Avon Lake hit a soft spot with only four points in the second quarter and the Demons scored 11 unanswered points to cut the margin to 22-21 early in the third period.
That was as close as Westlake could get. A 12-4 run by the Shoremen to end the third quarter hiked the lead to nine as Jones hit a 3-pointer with time expiring.
The Demons managed to get as close as seven points with 3:11 remaining, but couldn’t take advantage of Avon Lake’s 7-of-15 free throw shooting in the final 2:04.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Avon Lake 48, Westlake 40
AVON LAKE (48): Christian Jones 1-0-3, Jimmy Hessel 1-4-7, Mitch Gabanic 5-1-11, Seth Muck 5-1-12, Brad Hamilton 2-4-9, Mitch McManaman 0-0-0, Jake Aiello 1-2-4, Jace Russell 1-0-2. Totals 16-12-48.
WESTLAKE (40): Bryan MacKenzie 2-1-5, Shawn Turk 1-0-3, Danny Strodtbeck 4-1-10, Gavin Skelly 5-1-11, Jamie Lackner 1-0-3, Aaron Wargo 2-1-5, Josef Hadib-Nissan 0-0-0, Connor Meek 0-0-0, Makis Beach 1-0-3. Totals 16-4-40.
Avon Lake 18 4 14 12 — 48
Westlake 10 6 11 13 — 40
Three-point goals: Avon Lake 4 (Muck, Hessel, Hamilton, Jones), Westlake 4 (Beach, Lackner, Turk, Strodtbeck). Field goal shooting: Avon Lake 16-45 (35.6 percent), Westlake 16-59 (27.1 percent). Free throw shooting: Avon Lake 12-23 (52.1 percent), Westlake 4-9 (44.4 percent). Rebounds: Avon Lake 25 (Hessel, Gabanic 7), Westlake 37 (Skelly 9). Turnovers: Avon Lake 9, Westlake 14. Total fouls: Avon Lake 10, Westlake 18. Fouled out: MacKenzie.
Junior varsity: Avon Lake, 47-32.