Westlake Demons clamp down, defeat Avon Eagles in non-conference play

AVON — For most of Saturday night, Avon’s offense was able to break down Westlake’s defense and score.

Most of the night.

But for a six-minute stretch in the third and fourth quarters, the Demons clamped down on the Eagles.

It was all they needed as Westlake defeated Avon 51-44 in non-conference action.

“We went into the locker room at the half and came out with one goal, one mission, and that was to stop them in the half court,” Westlake coach Shawn Hood said. “We may have seemed frustrated to most in the first half, but they ran their stuff to perfection and they scored off it.”

The Eagles’ offense was clicking early, as the Demons weren’t able to contain Matt Lawrence, who battled Westlake’s big post players all night long.

“Matt played really well,” Avon coach Kevin Sapara said. “He’s coming along, and we’ve seen him improve every game. With seven games left in the season, we expect big things from him.”

Lawrence finished the game with a team-high 17 points.

Avon needed a big game from Lawrence, since the Demons were keying on senior guard Jack Poyle. Poyle has been one of the Eagles’ big scorers this season, but was held to just two points.

“They did a good job on (Jack), limiting his looks,” Sapara said. “He still played alright, though. He forced a little bit, at times, but I still think he played a pretty good game.”

Junior guard Brian Kelly also had a big game for the Eagles, finishing the game with 15 points despite hitting just one of his eight 3-point attempts.

Avon had a 30-28 lead in the third quarter, but suddenly its offense stopped clicking, due in large part to the Demons’ defense.

Westlake went on a 17-2 run and took a lead it would never relinquish.

The Demons hit some big baskets during the run, but Hood was clear that it wasn’t the offense that was responsible for it.

“Make no mistake about it, the reason why we made the run was because we stopped them,” he said. “Yeah, we made some big shots, but mostly we stopped Avon and that will get you a run every time.”

Westlake’s presence in the post with big men Jamie Lackner, Gavin Skelly and Brian Guzik not only frustrated the Eagles all night, it opened up shots on the outside for senior guards Shawn Turk and Bryan Mackenzie.

Mackenzie finished with 15 points, including two 3s on two attempts. Turk finished with 14 points and was also perfect on 3s, burying two himself.

“Having those big guys in there is a huge advantage for us,” Turk said. “You’ve got people doubling Gavin, or doubling Jamie, and they just kick it out and we shoot 3s.”

Despite the stellar scoring night, Turk said it’s all about defense for the Demons, and it was the reason they left Avon with a win.

“We stepped up our defense, especially in the second half,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a half-court battle, and we just made it a grind and stepped up our half-court defense.”

Westlake’s post players may get a lot of attention, but Hood felt a key reason his team was successful defensively was the play of senior Danny Strodtbeck.

“Danny looks like he’s about 40 years old out there. He’s 5-10, he’s 200 pounds, he’s not very quick; he’s not very fast, but he is tough,” Hood said. “He’s tough physically; he’s tough mentally. He has gotten it done virtually every time we’ve asked him to do that.

“I’m so proud of him. It’s just funny that a kid that looks like that can do what he can do.”

Strodtbeck also chipped in with seven points.

The win improves Westlake’s record to 10-4 on the season, while Avon slips to 9-6.

@MJ_smahoney

Last Updated: 1/26/2013 11:30:48 PM EST

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