Avon Eagles overcome 10-point deficit to get by the Avon Lake Shoregals

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Avon celebrates a win in the D-1 Northeast District Tournament against Avon Lake at Elyria Catholic High School on Saturday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Avon Lake's Ali Balthaser shoots from the paint during the first quarter Saturday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Avon Lake's Kay Butrey struggles to make a pass under the basket during the first quarter Saturday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Avon's Payton Mitchell drives around a defender during the third quarter Saturday.

ELYRIA — Once in a while you watch a game so well played, you leave feeling like both teams deserved to win.

On Saturday afternoon, Avon and Avon Lake played one of those games — a back-and-forth battle that wasn’t settled until the final minute.

In that final minute, the Eagles did what they needed to do, pulling out a 45-41 win over the Shoregals to advance to the Division I district semifinal on Wednesday.

“This is one of the most exciting wins I’ve been a part of,” Avon head coach Meghan Banks said. “The way my girls pulled through at the end was a great thing to see. Avon Lake played an amazing game. I’m just really proud of the way we persevered tonight.”

Despite coming in with a far-superior record at 13-9 compared to Avon Lake’s 4-18 mark, Avon was outplayed by Avon Lake for most of the game.

Turnovers doomed the Eagles early on, turning it over eight times in the first quarter and 15 times in the first half.

Even when Avon did get a shot off, they weren’t making many early on.

With seven minutes left in the second quarter, the Eagles had just three points on the board, trailing 8-3.

After a small run from Avon cut its lead to one, Avon Lake went on a run of its own.

Sarah Winkel connected on back-to-back jumpers and Ali Balthaser hit her second 3-pointer of the game to aid the Shoregals’ 9-0 run.

The run pushed their lead to 19-9.

“We definitely played a little nervous and pressed too much in the first half,” Banks said. “With my girls not having a ton of tournament experience, I knew the nerves might affect us early on.”

While Avon was not playing to its capabilities, Avon Lake was hitting on all cylinders.

“I thought we played a great first half,” Avon Lake head coach Dave Zvara said. “We came out and executed very well. I knew that we have been capable of being that type of team all year. It was nice to see it come together in a big game.”

The second half is when things really heated up.

After an Avon run brought it within two, 25-23, Avon Lake answered back yet again, going on a 6-0 run that included another big 3-pointer from Balthaser.

The Eagles wasted no time responding, with Sierra Davidson scoring back-to-back baskets.

“We didn’t play well early on, but we stuck with it, and started hitting our shots.” Davidson said. “Our motto has been ‘all in’ no matter what, and that’s how we played today.”

After a back-and-forth third quarter, Avon Lake held a 31-28 lead.

Avon finally took the lead, 32-31, for its first lead of the game early in the fourth, thanks to a big jumper by freshman Catie Kelly.

However, Avon Lake came right back with two free throws to regain the lead.

Over the next five minutes, the two teams traded the lead seven times, with each hitting big shot after big shot.

Avon finally took the lead for good when Jessica Yurkovich’s jumper put them up, 42-41, with a minute remaining.

Avon will now advance to the district semifinal against Magnificat on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Avon 45, Avon Lake 41

Division I Elyria District

AVON LAKE –– Ali Balthaser 4-5 16, Kay Butrey 0-2 2, Anelise Kollias 0-3 3, Sarah Winkel 3-1 7, Maggie Heschel 3-1 7, Emily Nichols 3-0 6. TOTALS 13-12-41.

AVON –– Catie Kelly 1-3 5, Payton Mitchell 2-2 6, Sierra Davidson 6-0 12, Kaitlin Neumann 1-0 2, Jessica Yurkovich 1-1 3, Biranna Conroy 2-0 4, Alexandra Bjorn 0-5 5. TOTALS 17-11-45.

3-POINT GOALS –- AL: Balthaser (3).

Score By Quarters

Avon Lake (4-19) 8 13 10 10 - 41

Avon (14-9) 3 10 15 17 - 45

Team Statistics

Field Goals –– Avon Lake 13 of 37 (35 percent), Avon 17 of 48 (35 percent).

Free Throws –– Avon Lake 12 of 17(70 percent), Avon 11 of 23 (47 percent).

Rebounds –– AL 25 (Heschel 10), A 34 (Bjourn 12).

Turnovers –– AL 20, A 20.

@MJournalSports

Last Updated: 2/23/2013 11:35:57 PM EST

From the Bleachers

See All