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Lorain Titans erase 13-point deficit to ground Avon Eagles
MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Lorain’s Andre Phillips, right, makes a layup past Avon’s A.J. Kistler in the first quarter of Division I Grafton District action on Monday night.
MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Avon’s A.J. Kistler, left, drives past Lorain’s Louis Cheers for a score on Monday.
MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Lorain’s Gerald Howard, left, puts back an offensive rebound over Avon’s Jordan Lawrence in the second quarter of Division I Grafton District action played at Midview High School on Monday night.
MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Lorain's Louis Cheers gets fouled as he drives the lane by Avon's Matt Lawrence in the second quarter.
The Titans responded emphatically as they roared all the way back with a big fourth quarter to beat the Eagles 64-56.
Lorain outscored Avon 27-13 in the fourth quarter, sparked by outstanding defensive pressure and offensive efficiency as the Titans were 9 of 11 from the field in the final quarter.
“I knew they didn’t have a really deep bench, and I knew they didn’t play teams of our quickness and ability all year long in their conference,” Lorain coach Andy Bastock said. “I thought that our speed and our relentlessness could wear them down. It took all the way to the fourth quarter when we really turned it on.”
The Titans (10-12) were lifted by two of their most experienced players as Devon Andrews’ 17 points and Louis Cheers’ 15 points and eight rebounds led the way. They were two of only three players — Andre Phillips being the third — who played in last year’s first-round loss to Olmsted Falls in double overtime.
“We were thinking about it before the game,” he added. “We were talking about, ‘We can’t lose. Remember last time we were here.’ What we were doing was making our players play harder, and with teamwork. That’s how we won this game.”
Lorain’s hopes were fading in the third as Avon (16-7) went on a 14-5 run to take a 41-28 lead with 3:23 to go in the quarter. The Titans ramped up their defensive pressure, and slowly chipped away at the deficit.
Lorain’s pressure and transition game sent the Titans on a 17-2 run to grab the lead in the fourth quarter.
“They made us turn the ball over, pressured us and got some easy buckets off of our turnovers,” Avon coach Kevin Sapara said. “They rebounded the ball well in the fourth quarter, sped it up a little bit and they did a great job. Got to give it off to them. I think our kids fought, though, and they played a pretty good game. We’re not ashamed of anything. I thought we did a great job, had a good year.”
Brian Kelly tried to bring the Eagles back in the fourth with a pair of threes, scoring eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Lorain held off any rally by the play of Cheers and Andrews, who combined for 16 of Lorain’s 27 in the quarter.
“It came down to defense,” Cheers said. “I don’t think we played good defense through the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, we just took pride in our defense.”
After missing Andrews for most of the early part of the season, Bastock knows his team has played better since his return.
“Since he’s been back, I think we’ve won 6 of 8, or 6 of 9 after winning maybe 3 of our first 10,” he said. “Just in the win-loss column, you can see the difference he provides for us.”
Lorain started strong, grabbing a 14-8 lead after one. Avon bounced back with 14 unanswered points in the second as Lorain missed 12 straight shots. Zack Torbert gave Avon a lift off the bench with 13 points, eight of which came in the second including two threes.
“He’s going to be a really good player,” Sapara said. “He’s only a sophomore. He came along about halfway through the year and just has played phenominally. I can’t say enough about Torbert.”
Lorain trailed at the half by just four, then fell behind by 13 before turning the game around and getting a measure of revenge after last year’s early exit.
“I came into this game feeling like we should win this game,” Bastock said. “No disrespect to Avon whatsover because they put a fine season together. But I thought we were the better team. To exit tonight would have really upset me after last year’s early exit.”
Next up for the Titans is a rematch with Avon Lake in the sectional final Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Shoremen defeated the Titans in the Lorain County Holiday Classic 54-39 on Dec. 29, 2012.
Lorain 64, Avon 56
Division I Grafton District
LORAIN — Louis Cheers 6-4 16, Eddie Williamson 2-0 4, Andre Phillips 3-0 7, Devon Andrews 6-5 17, Gerald Howard 2-0 4, Demon Hisle 3-2 9, Brandon Rodriguez 3-1 7. TOTALS 25-12 64.
AVON — Brian Kelly 4-2 13, Jack Poyle 5-4 14, Cordell Winters 3-0 7, Matt Lawrence 2-0 4, A.J. Kistler 1-0 2, Zack Torbert 5-0 13, Jordan Lawrence 1-0 3. TOTALS 21-6 56.
3-POINT GOALS — L: Phillips, Hisle; A: Kelly (3), Winters, Torbert (3), J. Lawrence.
Score By Quarters
Lorain (10-12) 14 9 14 27 — 64
Avon (16-7) 8 19 16 13 — 56
Field Goals — Lorain 25 of 50 (50 percent), Avon 21 of 50 (42 percent).
Free Throws — L 12 of 18 (67 percent), A 6 of 6 (100 percent).
Rebounds — L 29 (Cheers 8), A 29 (Winters 5).
Turnovers — L 12, A 19.
Last Updated: 2/25/2013 11:31:25 PM EST