Seniors lead Eagles past Sailors

MORNING JOURNAL/ANNA NORRIS Avon's Nick Redilla is fouled by Vermilion's Austin Kazmer on his way to the basket in the first quarter Friday night at Avon High School.

MORNING JOURNAL/ANNA NORRIS Avon's Claude Gray shoots for three against Vermilion in the first quarter Friday night at Avon High School.

MORNING JOURNAL/ANNA NORRIS Elyria's Rodney Beckett muscles up for a jump shot over Medina's Nick Fryer in the fourth quarter Friday night at Elyria High School.

MORNING JOURNAL/ANNA NORRIS Vermilion's Jordan Gillespie draws the foul on Avon's Nick Redilla in the first quarter Friday night at Avon High School.

AVON — The seniors at Avon have talked about playing in the Senior Night since they were together in seventh grade and Friday night will be a night they will take with them as they grow older.

Vermilion had the Eagles on the ropes in its West Shore Conference game trailing 23-20 with less than three minutes left in the first half. Avon erupted for a 12-4 run to finish the half and never looked back posting a 64-46 win over the Sailors.

The Eagles improved to 12-7 overall and 8-3 in the WSC. Vermilion falls to 3-16, 0-11.

Five of the seven seniors on the Avon roster scored and combined for 55 points. Six-foot-four Claude Gray scoring 15 points, including a 3-pointer, while Mike Maloney torched the Sailors with a game-high 21 points, including three triples. Nate Penman and Ryan Poyle added eight each, while Nick Redilla scored 3.

“It’s Senior Night and for those guys it seems like those four years have flown by,” said Eagles head coach Jim Baker. “There are a lot of distractions with senior night, especially mentally, and I thought those guys did a real good job of staying focused. Vermilion was playing hard, they have some good young talent and at times they made us question what we were doing on the bench.”

Avon jumped out to a 10-4 lead midway through the opening quarter, but the Sailors battled back getting five points from sophomore Cameron Kuhn and a buzzer-beating layin from Chris Yates to cut the lead to 14-11.

The Eagles ran the lead back out to 21-13, but once again the Sailors fought back on a 3-point play by Forrest Boyd and four points from Jordan Gillespie, including a 3 to make the score 23-20 with 2:47 remaining in the half.

Boyd paced Vermilion with 14 points, while teammate Kuhn scored double-figures with 12. Gillespie closed the night with eight points.

Just as quickly as Vermilion got back in the game in the second quarter, it slipped away as Avon hit four of its next five shots from the floor, while the Sailors were held to just four points the rest of the second quarter.

All 12 points came from Eagles’ seniors with Poyle scoring the first four, Gray added a layin and Maloney hit a pair of 3-pointers to break the momentum of the Sailors.

“My teammates are great and we have been together since seventh grade,” said Maloney who hit the 3’s with only one contact after losing one in the first quarter. “I know exactly what they are going to do and they know what I am going to do. They just kept getting me the ball and I was able to hit my shots.”

After hanging tight the entire first half, Vermilion got the Eagles lead under double-digits on just one occasion as sophomore Ross Lewis connected on a 3 to make the score 37-28.

A layup by Gray, a 3 from Maloney and a layup from Poyle pushed the lead back out to 44-29 and it stayed there for the balance of the game.

“We really didn’t expect this,” Maloney said about the start of the game. “When we went over there the first time we played we straight up dominated them. Today they came out hard, I give them a lot of credit, we were scared there but we got the job done.”

Last Updated: 2/17/2012 11:31:20 PM EST

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