September 23, 2014

Elyria
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Boys basketball: Avon Lake holds off Lorain for Holiday Classic title

AVON LAKE — In more than five minutes of defensive dominance and offensive execution, Avon Lake did more than merely turn a close game into a victory.

With emphasis, the Shoremen shed Lorain from a third-quarter tie and turned it into a relatively easy win for the championship of the 15th annual Lorain County Holiday Classic.

The score was 54-39, which the Shoremen made possible with a 13-0 run that consumed 5:03 of the third quarter.

They did it using a 1-3-1 zone press and turning three straight Lorain turnovers into baskets.

“Pressure’s cumulative,” Shoremen coach Eric Smith said. “You might not get the big run early in the first quarter or the second quarter, but if you consistently apply the pressure — and we trap selectively out of it — you’re going to get results.”

The Shoremen forced 23 turnovers, at least five in every quarter. Many came off long, looping passes by the Titans that lent themselves to interception.

“We worked on that in practice, taking away their passes,” said Christian Jones, Avon Lake’s 5-foot-10 junior guard.

“We knew they made cross-court passes and we worked on taking those away.”

Avon Lake’s long third-quarter run started with back-to-back close-range field goals by Brad Hamilton, a 6-4 junior guard. Mitch Gabanic — Avon Lake’s 6-7 senior center — followed with three straight baskets under the hoop. He was fouled scoring the third and turned it into a 3-point play.

The Shoremen (5-3) also got a basket by Jimmy Hessel, a 6-3 senior guard. And after a baseline drive by Titans center Louis Cheers ended the scoring drought, Hessel added two foul shots and Avon Lake was in business, 45-31, going into the fourth quarter. The Shoremen won the fourth quarter, 9-8, which was more than sufficient to hold on.

Hessel was asked what turned it around for the Shoremen.

“We changed our press around,” he said. “We went with the 1-3-1 and that gave them some problems. We got some turnovers off of that and some fastbreak opportunities. Being my senior year and having us win the trophy and plaque is a big deal for us.”

Conversely, the Shoremen weren’t much bothered by the Titans’ press.

“I thought we handled their pressure pretty well in the second half, and we finished well around the basket,” Smith said. “I think the key for the entire game was we held them to one shot (per possession). We didn’t allow them for the most part to get a run by getting second and third shots.”

Avon Lake spread the floor late, trying to create easy drives to the basket while running time off the clock. With about two minutes to go, the Shoremen added two foul shots and a basket by junior Christian Jones while using up nearly a minute.

“That’s our offense,” Smith said. “We like to spread the floor and we feel the two hardest things to defend are player movement and ball movement. I’m old school, like Bobby Knight. We’re going to get great shots out of it. We’re going to get back cuts and if they overplay us, we’re going to get open jump shots.”

Lorain coach Andy Bastock, whose Titans knocked off previously unbeaten Elyria on Friday night, was unhappy with the loss.

“Most of our players were content with winning the first game last night,” said Bastock, whose team fell to 4-4 on the season. “We were a shell of a team tonight and we got embarrassed. We were outplayed in pretty much every aspect of the game. Avon Lake came to play and we were thinking about yesterday. I was embarrassed and (our players) should be embarrassed.”

Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or basketball@bobdaniels.info.

Avon Lake 54, Lorain 39

LORAIN (39): Louis Cheers 4-3-11, Eddie Williamson 0-0-0, Andre Phillips 1-0-3, Demon Hisle 1-0-2, Andrew Ralston 1-0-2, Sherman Saunders 1-2-5, Delandrious Henderson 2-0-4, Gerald Howard 2-0-4, Rashod Berry 4-0-8. Totals 16-5-39.

AVON LAKE (54): Mitch McManamon 0-0-0, Jason Hessel 0-0-0, Jake Aiello 0-0-0, Christian Jones 4-3-12, Jimmy Hessel 4-2-11, Mitch Gabanic 5-3-13, Jace Russell 2-1-6, Seth Muck 3-0-7, Brad Hamilton 2-1-5. Totals 20-10-54.

Lorain    9    16    6    8    —    39
Avon Lake    16    11    18    9    —    54

3-point goals: Lorain 2-9 (Saunders, Phillips); Avon Lake 4-15 (Russell, Jones, Muck, Ji. Hessel). Field goals: Lorain 16-41 (39 percent); Avon Lake 20-47 (42.6 percent). Free throws: Lorain 5-13; Avon Lake 10-14. Rebounds: Lorain 25; Avon Lake 22. Turnovers: Lorain 23; Avon Lake 12. Fouled out: None.