Defense is the best offense for Avon Eagles

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — While its offense struggled early on, Avon relied on its defense to create some offense.

In the second quarter, the Eagles forced four turnovers which keyed a thirteen-point run en route to a 44-26 West Shore Conference win over host North Ridgeville Wednesday night.

“We wanted to switch things up,” Avon coach Meghan Banks said. “We wanted our good defense to lead to some good offense. We like being aggressive. We like working on the passing lanes and creating turnovers. It’s a comfort level the girls have when they press.”

Both teams started off slow offensively until the Rangers (5-12, 2-7) broke the ice on a Cortney Judson rebound and putback. The Eagles (10-6, 7-2) responded and held an 8-4 lead at the end of the first.

After Rangers’ sophomore guard Alyssa Riley tied the game at eight with a driving layup, the Eagles turned up the heat defensively.

Using a full-court trapping press, Avon forced four North Ridgeville turnovers. Tine Petrillo buried a pair of 3-pointers, while Brianna Smith added three points during the run. By the time the smoke cleared, the Eagles held a 21-8 lead.

“Give Avon credit,” North Ridgeville coach Amy Esser said. “We had a hard time handling the ball and their pressure. It has been something we have struggled with all season. We need to be stronger physically and mentally to handle the press.”

When the turnovers subsided, North Ridgeville started to close the gap. Creating a few turnovers, they trimmed the gap down to 21-14 at the half.

Continuing its constant pressure, the Eagles continued to make things difficult for North Ridgeville. The Rangers were unable to get into any sort of flow offensively, turning the ball over 12 times in the third. It also included a stretch of seven straight turnovers by the Rangers, who only scored two points.

“We continue to kill ourselves with unforced turnovers,” Esser said. “We aren’t taking care of the ball and making mistakes.”

Avon had a chance to extend its lead, but did struggle from the field in the third. Nevertheless, Banks likes to keep seeing her team shoot.

“We kept encouraging them to shoot and be aggressive,” she said. “Knowing eventually they’ll start to fall.”

The balance in the scoring column was fantastic for the Eagles. Nine players scored and only Catie Kelly was the only player to reach double figures with 10. The five-foot, five-inch point guard did a fine job of managing the Rangers pressure in the second half. She scored six of her points in the second half, all of them on driving layups.

Petrillo added eight and Sierra Davidson had six.

Finding someone to handle the ball is what Esser has been looking for. A young squad which started only one senior, the growing process has been tough at times. In this game, the Rangers turned the ball over 31 times.

“We had so many opportunities which we let get away from us because of turnovers,” she said. “We have to find a way to be able to handle the ball and the pressure.”

Alyssa Riley led the Rangers with nine points, while Judson added eight.

Avon will host Elyria Catholic Saturday in WSC action, while North Ridgeville hosts Lakewood.

Avon 44, North Ridgeville 26

West Shore Conference

AVON — Jessica Yurkovich 2-0 4, Catie Kelly 5-0 10, Sierra Davidson 3-0 6, Brianna Conroy 1-0 2, Brianna Smith 2-1 5, Payton Mitchell 1-1 3, Tine Petrillo 3-0 8, Kaitlin Neumann 1-0 2, Alexandra Bjorn 2-0 4. TOTALS 20-2 44.

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Alyssa Riley 4-0 9, Cortney Judson 3-2 8, Isabella Pecchia 2-0 4, Leah Lindak 1-1 3, Emilie Groh 1-0 2. TOTALS 11-3 26.

3-POINT GOALS — A: Petrillo (2), Riley.

Score By Quarters

Avon (10-6, 7-2) 8 13 8 15 — 44

North Ridgeville (5-12, 2-7) 4 10 2 10 — 26

Team Statistics

Field Goals — Avon 20 of 63 (32 percent), North Ridgeville 11 of 45 (24 percent).

Free Throws — A 2 of 10 (20 percent), NR 3 of 6 (50 percent).

Rebounds — A 37, NR 45.

Turnovers — A 15, NR 31.

@MJournalSports

Last Updated: 1/23/2013 11:08:53 PM EST

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