Lakewood had sewn up its first conference title in 40 years Friday and was sailing along at 15-2 on the year.
Meanwhile, the Shoremen had lost 13 of 16. But behind a well-schemed zone defense and outstanding play from Brad Hamilton and Seth Muck, Avon Lake pulled the upset of the year, 65-58 in overtime.
“It was really nice to get that full-team victory,” said Hamilton, who scored a career-high 28 points and hauled in 10 rebounds. “The guys did everything they could to get the win. The coaches put together a heckuva game plan.”
Because of the way the Southwestern Conference is structured this year, Avon Lake had Friday off and coach Eric Smith had all week to prepare the Shoremen for Lakewood’s invasion.
The zone is a gamble against a good-shooting team, but the Rangers hit just nine of 29
3-point attempts. It enabled Avon Lake to control the tempo and ultimately the game.
“The coaches told us those guys are going to sit back there and shoot the threes,” Hamilton said. “They’ve had games where they’ve made 10 threes from one player. I thought we had a really good approach defensively. It was just a team defensive win.”
“The kids executed the game plan perfectly,” Smith said. “With the draw (today) this was going to be a tournament-type game. It’s the kind of team we’re going to be matched up against.
“We did some things that we normally don’t do. We’re not a big zone team. We’re usually a man team, but we thought if we go up-and-down that wouldn’t be the way we wanted to play. We thought if we forced them to throw some passes, maybe we could take some legs away.”
Two technical fouls didn’t help Lakewood. The first came in the third quarter just after Avon Lake tied the game at 35 on back-to-back steals and layups by Hamilton and Christian Jones. Muck made good on the free throws and Hamilton scored on an inbound pass to put the Shoremen up 39-35.
Avon Lake held the lead until Lakewood rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 1:40 to send the game to overtime, where the Shoremen took charge.
Muck connected on a free throw to start the overtime and Hamilton scored on another layup and was fouled. His free throw made it 55-51 and Muck followed with a turnaround shot in the lane to make it 57-51. The second technical put Muck back at the line to push the lead to 59-51 with 2:26 left. Muck and Hamilton combined to sink 11 of 19 free throws in overtime to ice the win.
“That’s why you practice free throws,” Hamilton said. “I felt like Seth came through in the clutch with the free throws at the end.”
Muck, who scored 18 points, hit eight of 12 free throws on the night. Hamilton hit eight of 14.
Wes Gerhardt got loose a few times for Lakewood to finish with 25 points and seven 3-pointers. Shawn McDonald added 17, but the rest of the lineup scored just 16 points.
“They’re good shooters, they’re going to knock shots down,” Smith said. “But they never could get in a rhythm.”
“We didn’t compete,” Lakewood coach Phil Argento said. “There was one time they didn’t have anyone under the basket on a free throw attempt and we had four but the shooter gets the rebound. When that happens, you might as well get on the bus and go home.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Avon Lake 65, Lakewood 58
LAKEWOOD (58): Mike Angers 0-2-2, Wes Gerhardt 9-0-25, Logan Swift 3-0-6, Shawn McDonald 7-1-17, Jacob Schmidt 1-0-2, Tyshawn Goolsby 1-0-2, Jaime Fesko 2-0-4, Nick Porter 0-0-0, Dan Mathews 0-0-0. Totals 23-3-58.
AVON LAKE (65): Luke Harris 2-0-4, Christian Jones 4-0-9, Seth Muck 5-8-18, Brad Hamilton 10-8-28, Ben Oxley 0-0-0, Matt Molina 1-0-2, Quinn Catleberry 0-0-0, Jason Hessel 2-0-4, Jace Russell 0-0-0, Max Seipel 0-0-0, A.J. Outcalt 0-0-0. Totals 24-16-65.
Lakewood 14 9 15 13 7 — 58
Avon Lake 8 12 21 10 14 — 65
Three-point goals: Lakewood 9-29 (Gerhardt 7, McDonald 2), Avon Lake 1-5 (Jones). Field goals: Lakewood 23-60 (38 percent), Avon Lake 24-54 (44 percent). Free throws: Lakewood 3-9 (33 percent), Avon Lake 16-28 (57 percent). Rebounds: Lakewood 46 (Goolsby 9), Avon Lake 35 (Hamilton 10). Turnovers: Lakewood 20, Avon Lake 11. Fouls: Lakewood 22, Avon Lake 9. Technical Foul: Gerhardt, Porter. Fouled Out: Schmidt.
Junior varsity: Lakewood, 50-42.