Midpark Meteors win defensive battle vs. Avon Lake Shoremen

BEREA — The Meteors outlasted the Shoremen in Midpark, winning adefensive battle, 44-41, Friday night.

Midpark (11-7, 4-4) and Avon Lake (10-8, 6-6) had identical overall records entering the game.

Meteors’ 6-9 sophomore Nolan Gerrity, led Midpark in scoring with 13 points. Senior Mark Lombardo finished with 11.

“Mark has really taken on a leadership role as a senior,” Midpark coach Duke Barther said. “Our big guy, Nolan Gerrity, really clogged up what they were trying to do offensively and Kevin Prok, defensively was phenomenal.”

Avon Lake juniors Christian Jones and Seth Muck led the Shoremen in scoring with 15 points apiece. Jones sank a 3-pointer that looked like it was from half court to keep Avon Lake in the game with just seconds left, but it wasn’t enough.

“Christian Jones is our shooter, he can shoot,” Avon Lake head coach Eric Smith said. “He hit a deep three late in the game, but that wasn’t a surprise to us.”

It was a defensive battle all night, with Midpark only leading 14-11 at the end of the opening half.

“We came out and just didn’t have enough energy in the first half,” Smith said. “I thought in the second half we picked up our intensity a bit and got it going, but the problem was we came out flat without intensity and then they executed better than we did down the stretch.”

Avon Lake hung with Midpark all night, but the Meteors forced key turnovers.

“In a close game like that when you’re playing two very evenly matched teams, they executed better down the stretch than we did,” Smith said. “We had some chances and it seemed like every time we had the ball with the game tied or a chance to take the lead, we came down and either turned it over or didn’t get the shot we wanted.

“Every time it was a close game and they got the ball down at their end, they executed very well and got the ball inside to the big guy. That was the difference in the game, they executed better in the last three minutes of the game than we did.”

Barther was proud of his team’s performance against the Shoremen.

“Defensively our guys did a wonderful job. They had a hard time scoring,” Barther said. “It may have seemed like it was always about a three-point difference, but it felt like we were in control. But then we didn’t make free throws.”

Yet, when it came down to them really needing to make free throws with just seconds on the clock, the Meteors stepped up. Michael Schuller sank two free throws to close out the game at 44-41.

“I was proud of our guys,” Barther added. “I think Avon Lake is a solid, physical team and we’re getting better as the season goes along.”

Next week Midpark heads to Amherst while Avon Lake will face Midview at home.

“We have two tough games again next week, with Midview on Tuesday and Olmsted Falls on Friday,” Smith said. “Again, these are games where we are going to be evenly-matched teams and we need to go out and play.

“We’re going out to Amherst next week, which is a tough place to play,” Barther said. “Every game in our conference is like this. We’ll prepare and get our guys to play hard.”

@MJournalSports

Last Updated: 2/8/2013 11:52:03 PM EST

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