Avon bounces back after tough loss

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Avon’s Jack Poyle, right, blocks North Olmsted’s Marc Remy shot in the fourth quarter Tuesday night at Avon High School.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Avon's Ryan Poyle, left, drives the lane past North Omlsted's Bradley Avalos in the fourth quarter.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Avon's Claude Gray brings the ball up the court in the fourth quarter.

AVON — After suffering a crushing loss last Friday at Bay, which gave Midview the West Shore Conference championship, Avon looked to bounce back against non-conference foe North Olmsted.

They did just that by holding off a late rally and winning 63-59 on Tuesday night.

Three Avon (11-7) players reached double-figures, including Claude Gray who had 18 points, and Mike Maloney who had 16 — including four 3-pointers.

The Eagles needed every one of those points as North Olmsted’s Darvin Freeman scored 13 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, including an individual 10-0 run that tied the game midway through the quarter at 51.

“We knew it was going to be a battle and it got a little tighter there than we wanted it to be,” Avon coach Jim Baker said. “It’s good coming out with the win.”

Avon was able to extend its lead off its free throw shooting to 54-51 before Maloney hit his fourth 3 of the night, which gave the Eagles a six-point lead late in the fourth.

“So much of this game is confidence, so much is mental,” Baker said. “Mike is just right now shooting the ball with great confidence. Every time he thinks he shoots it — in practice, in the games — he thinks it’s going in.”

Following a timeout and two free throws from Jack Poyle, who had 11 points for Avon, Gray got behind the defense after a missed Freeman shot and made an easy layup with under a minute left to put the game away at 63-56.

Avon took control of the game after trailing through one quarter.

They went on a 13-0 run to start the second, highlighted by a pair of 3s from Maloney, to turn a three-point first quarter deficit into a 10-point lead.

“Pretty much when any person gets their shot going, and the whole team follows behind, we just feel like we’re unstoppable,” Maloney said.

Avon outscored North Olmsted (7-10) 22-11 in the second and take a 36-28 point lead into the half on the strength of that run.

“I felt Avon came in the first half with a much better mental approach than we did,” North Olmsted coach Joe Smith said. “They came to fight, came to compete and I don’t think we were there mentally and that’s no excuse.

“Tuesday night, non-conference, it doesn’t matter. It’s Game 17 and that’s what the message was delivered at halftime.”

North Olmsted’s Billy Lucien had 11 of his 14 points in the first quarter which gave his team an early edge. He only got three more points the rest of the game as Avon’s defense switched to different zones to neutralize Lucien.

“He’s a big bodied kid,” Smith said. “He’s strong, he has mobility. I mean Billy’s a nice player. He’s only a junior. He doesn’t get maybe as many touches as he should sometimes but the touches he gets are the ones he earns.”

The Eagles were able to get to the line more often hitting 14 of 22 attempts, while North Olmsted went 6 of 12.

Baker said the win was very important for his team from a mental standpoint as they look to build some late momentum before sectional tournament play begins.

“We talked about having to show some character,” Baker said. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us and if we came out here and went through the motions tonight after what happened Friday, we’d have gotten bumped.

“I’m just very proud of them because I think it’s huge. I think they proved something to themselves tonight, (that) no matter what we’re going to play and we’re going to play 32 minutes and it was great to see.”

Avon hosts Vermilion Friday, while North Olmsted travels to Avon Lake on Friday.

Twitter: @Bielik_Tim

Last Updated: 2/14/2012 11:41:24 PM EST

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