The Titans lost in double-overtime in the opening round of last year’s Division I sectional tournament and things looked precarious at best Monday when they trailed Avon by as many as 13 points in the third quarter at Midview High School.
But thanks to increasing its defensive pressure in the fourth, Lorain snatched victory away from the Eagles, 64-56.
The Titans didn’t too badly on offense either the final eight minutes, going 9-of-11 from both the floor and the free throw line and scoring 27 points.
The Titans (10-12) advance to a second-round matchup against fourth-seeded Avon Lake on Friday night at 7:30. Avon closes out a West Shore Conference co-championship season at 14-9.
“We knew we had to keep pressuring, pressuring, pressuring to try and wear them down,” Titans coach Andy Bastock said. “I knew they didn’t have a deep bench and they had not played teams of our quickness and ability all year long in their conference.
“I thought our speed and relentlessness could wear them down and it took all the way to the fourth quarter when we really turned it on.”
Lorain opened a 14-8 lead as Devon Andrews scored seven of his game-high 17 points, including a two-handed dunk to ignite the Titans crowd.
But Avon sophomore Zach Torbert opened the second period with a 3-pointer that seemed to be the medicine the Eagles offense needed as they went on to outscore the Titans 19-9 in the second eight minutes.
Torbert scored eight of his 13 points in the quarter to lead Avon to a 27-23 halftime advantage.
Jack Poyle added 14 points for the Eagles and Brian Kelly 13. Poyle also dished out a game-high eight assists.
Torbert and Kelly each added 3-pointers in the third as the Eagles stretched their lead to 41-28, making it look like the Titans were headed for another early exit.
Before the end of the third though, the Titans made a run, getting a steal and a layup from Brandon Rodriguez and a 3-pointer from Andre Phillips to trim the lead back to 43-37 going into the final period.
Those points turned out to be a little foreshadowing for the Titans in the final quarter.
Another dunk from Andrews, a layup by Rodriguez, a driving Phillips bucket and a pair of free throws by Andrews capped off a 13-0 as the Titans grabbed a 45-43 lead, their first since early in the second quarter.
Cordell Winters briefly gave the lead back to Avon with a 3-pointer, but Lorain continued turning up the defensive pressure, finally pulling away for the win by hitting six of its last seven shots and seven of its last eight free throws for the win.
Louis Cheers came through with 16 points and eight rebounds for the Titans.
“Give Lorain credit, they really pressured us and made us turn over the ball,” said Eagles first-year coach Kevin Sapara, whose team had 19 turnovers on the night . “They kept scoring off the turnovers and they started rebounding the ball much better in the fourth quarter.
“Our kids really fought and played a pretty good game. I’m not ashamed of anything we did and we really had a great year.”
Lorain 64, Avon 56
LORAIN (64): Louis Cheers 6-4-16, Eddie Williamson 2-0-4, Andre Phillips 3-0-7, Demon Hisle 3-2-9, Brandon Rodriguez 3-1-7, Sherman Saunders 0-0-0, Devon Andrews 6-5-17, Gerald Howard 2-0-4. Totals 25-12-64.
AVON (56): Zach Gill 0-0-0, Brian Kelly 4-2-13, Jack Poyle 5-4-14, Cordell Winters 3-0-7, Zack Torbert 5-0-13, Matt Lawrence 2-0-4, Jordan Lawrence 1-0-3, A.J. Kistler 1-0-2, Alec Warren 0-0-0, Walter Rauterkus 0-0-0. Totals 21-6-56.
Lorain 14 9 14 27 — 64
Avon 8 19 16 13 — 56
Three-point goals: Lorain 2-9 (Phillips, Hisle), Avon 8-21 (Kelly 3, Torbert 3, Winters, Lawrence); Field goals: Lorain 25-50 (50 percent), Avon 21-50 (42 percent); Free throws: Lorain 12-18 (67 percent), Avon 6-6 (100 percent); Rebounds: Lorain 29 (Cheers 8), Avon 29 (Winters 5); Turnovers: Lorain 12; Avon 19; Assists: Lorain 12 (Andrews 4), Avon 15 (Poyle 8); Total fouls: Lorain 8, Avon 15.
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or email@example.com.