EATON TWP. — The numbers didn’t lie ... but they didn’t paint an accurate picture.
Lorain was outrebounded in a big way and missed 18 free throws Friday, but sophomore Devon Andrews’ tip-in with 1.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter sent the game to overtime, where the Titans prevailed 66-59 over Avon Lake.
The Shoremen (13-10) pulled down 52 rebounds, including 25 at the offensive end, to just 36 for the Titans (11-12). Lorain was a miserable 13-for-31 from the free throw line and had two starters, Louis Cheers and Rashod Berry, foul out early in the fourth quarter.
The Titans were still able to pull out the win.
“I just looked at the stat sheet and I don’t know how we won,” coach Andy Bastock said. “The kids were very resilient and we made a couple of big plays in the fourth quarter to send it into overtime.”
Avon Lake led 29-26 at halftime and, when Jimmy Hessel hit a short jumper from the right baseline with 6:04 remaining in the third quarter, enjoyed its biggest lead of the night at 35-26.
Andre Phillips got hot for the Titans, however, and did not let the Shoremen pull away. He connected on a 3-pointer from the right wing and was fouled with 4:07 left in the third to pull Lorain within four points. The next time down the floor he hit another three to slice the deficit to 40-39.
“That was the best he shot the three all year,” Bastock said. “He was looking for his shot and being a leader out there ... that’s what we need him to do. He’s a decent 3-point shooter, but he shot above his ability today. And they were all big shots ... he hit them when we needed them.”
The Shoremen reeled off seven straight points to close the period and enjoyed a 47-39 lead heading into the fourth.
Lorain opened the fourth on a 12-3 run, capped by a Gerald Howard putback at 1:16 that gave Lorain its first lead since the 1:57 mark of the second quarter.
Avon Lake regained the lead on a pair of Hessel free throws, but Andrews split a pair to knot the game at 52. Avon Lake split a pair of free throws twice in the final 38 seconds to take a two-point lead, but Andrews was not done.
With 12.7 seconds left Lorain cleared out for Andrews, who had the ball on the right baseline. He drove to the hole and put up a shot with three seconds left. It missed, but he jumped high over the defense to tap in his miss with 1.4 remaining.
“He was really above the rim on that and made a tough tap-in,” Bastock said. “We called his number down the stretch and got him the ball because that’s the type of player he is. I would roll my dice with him every time. For a sophomore to come up big like that in a sectional final game and put your team into position to go up against the top seed, that’s really big for that kid.”
Lorain will play Brecksville, a 62-61 overtime winner over Olmsted Falls, on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Midview.
In the extra period the Titans took control, building a four-point lead and holding on down the stretch.
“They ran some offense and I thought we defended it pretty well,” Avon Lake coach Eric Smith said of Andrews’ play at the end of regulation. “You have to tip your hat to the kid. That was a big momentum swing right there.”
Andrews finished with 21 points, six rebounds and six steals. He wanted to make sure Cheers and Berry didn’t see their high school careers end Friday night.
“When our two starters were on the bench with five fouls, I just thought of how I didn’t want to let them down,” Andrews said. “People were telling me to take over and keep attacking, so that’s what I did.
“I really didn’t want to lose, didn’t want this to be their last game. I want this season to be as special as it can be for them. Last year we lost in the first round and we dang sure didn’t want to lose this one. Hopefully we can get on a roll and keep winning.”
Howard, a starter most of the season who played just 12 minutes and stepped in when Cheers fouled out, is settling into his role off the bench.
“It was hard because I really didn’t play in the first half and had to go in when our two star players fouled out,” he said. “I had to step up and do what I had to do, get my rebounds, points and play good defense. I knew what I had to do to help get us a victory.”
Hessel led Avon Lake with 13 points.
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lorain 66, Avon Lake 59
LORAIN (66): Louis Cheers 2-0-4, Eddie Williamson 0-0-0, Andre Phillips 6-4-19, Devon Andrews 9-3-21, Rashod Berry 1-3-5, Demon Hisle 2-0-6, Brandon Rodriguez 2-2-6, Sherman Saunders 0-0-0, Xavier Harrison 0-0-0, Gerald Howard 2-1-5. Totals 24-13-66.
AVON LAKE (59): Christian Jones 2-4-9, Jimmy Hessel 4-5-13, Mitch Gabanic 5-0-10, Seth Muck 3-5-11, Brad Hamilton 4-0-9, Jason Hessel 1-2-4, Jake Aiello 1-0-2, Jace Russell 0-1-1, Ben Oxley 0-0-0. Totals 20-17-59.
Lorain 17 9 13 15 12 — 66
Avon Lake 11 18 18 7 5 — 59
Three-point goals: Lorain 5-13 (Phillips 3, Hisle 2), Avon Lake 2-17 (Jones, Hamilton). Field goals: Lorain 24-59 (41percent), Avon Lake 20-58 (34 percent). Free throws: Lorain 13-31 (42 percent), Avon Lake 17-23 (74 percent). Rebounds: Lorain 36 (Berry 7), Avon Lake 52 (Hamilton 16, Gabanic 13, Jimmy Hessel 12). Turnovers: Lorain 11, Avon Lake 20. Total fouls: Lorain 23, Avon Lake 22. Fouled out: Cheers, Berry, Jimmy Hessel.