AVON >> There are glimpses when you can see how good that Avon High boys basketball team could be.
It was the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s NCCC contest with Suffield. The Falcons had a comfortable lead but the visiting Wildcats were trying to attack the basket. But there was a block by Patrick McKearney out of bounds. His smack of the ball could be heard around the gym.
Suffield got the ball back and McKearney tipped away an attempted pass. Next, Suffield tried to get the ball inside and freshman Nate Laszewski blocked the ball and Avon took over.
A few minutes later, Laszewski drained a three-point shot. On Suffield’s next possession, McKearney stole the ball and raced downcourt, throwing down a one-handed slam dunk that rattled the rim.
Avon turned its best defensive performance of the young season in a 39-23 decision over Suffield to improve to 3-3 and 2-0 in the NCCC. It’s the fewest points allowed this season and the fewest since they gave up 27 to Suffield about a year ago.
“We were solid defensively and that was the focus of our practices,” Avon coach Chris Vozzolo said. “We came out and executed.”
Vozzolo is looking forward to additional practices and a more regular schedule to help the Falcons grow as a team.
Avon opened the season with three games in four days just before Christmas. They beat Granby in the season opener, 40-34 and dropped a 43-34 decision to Northampton, Mass., the next afternoon. Two days later on Dec. 23, Glastonbury beat Avon, 61-46.
On Dec. 27, Avon outlasted Bristol Eastern in the semifinals of Farmington’s holiday tournament, 49-45. But on the next night, the Indians regained the Taft Cup with a 67-56 decision in the tournament’s championship contest.
“We’ve been inconsistent,” Vozzolo said. “We haven’t put together a full game yet. When that happens, we’ll be a pretty good basketball team.
“We’ve had some good practices, some competitive practices,” he said. “The boys are working very hard. We’re going to be a work in progress this year. Hopefully, we’ll be peaking in March.”
The offense has been an issue all season. Avon is getting shots around the basket but they can’t seem to finish them. The Falcons had 14, 14 and 11 points, respectively, in the first half of their first three games – two losses.
McKearney leads the team in scoring with an average of 9.6 points a game. His high game was a 15-point effort in a 61-46 loss to Glastonbury. He had a season-low four points, including his slam dunk, against Suffield.
Sean Herrmann is averaging 6.8 points a game, buoyed by a 22-point outburst in the 67-56 loss to Farmington. That’s the highest scoring performance of the season by Avon. Jake Sartain is averaging 5.6 points a game while John Burdick is averaging 5.5 points a game.
“We’ve missed a lot of layups this year,” Vozzolo said. “We haven’t finished at the rim. But we’re working on it at practice. Hopefully with some work, the shots will begin to start going down.”
Nate Laszewski, a 6-foot-3 freshman, is averaging 4.9 points a game. He had seven against Suffield including a pair of three-point goals. Justin Reichler, who had 12 points in the season-opening win over Granby, has scored just 14 points in the next five games. Jake Sartain has been inconsistent but plays hard, averaging 5.6 points a game.
Reichler and Sartain each had eight rebounds in the win over Suffield. Avon pulled down 29 caroms in the contest.
It took both teams a while to get going in the Suffield game last Saturday night. The Falcons led 10-6 after one quarter of play. They extended the lead on a Herrmann three-point goal and a foul shot from Herrmann on a separate play.
Avon held Suffield (1-3) to just one field goal in the second quarter and led 19-8 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Avon pulled away. The Wildcats cut the lead to 10 when Sam Flynn (10 points) scored in the lane. Avon responded with an 11-0 surge to take a commanding 34-13 lead.
Sartain drained a three-point goal and Herrmann sank two foul shots. Reichler grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in for two points and Sartain added another two free throws. Laszewski capped off the run with a drive to the basket.
Avon hosts Stafford High next Tuesday before traveling to Canton next Friday night.
14: STAFFORD; 17: at Canton; 21: SMSA; 24: at Bolton; 28: WINDSOR LOCKS; 31: at Enfield
February — 4: at East Windsor; 7: ELLINGTON; 11: at Suffield; 14: GRANBY; 18: COVENTRY; 20: at East Granby
Games begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise listed
Avon 39, Suffield 23
Suffield (1-3) Sam Flynn 4-2-10, Sean Sullivan 1-0-2, Ben Woodhouse 0-1-1, Nolan McCoy 1-2-4, Robert Howard 1-2-4, Gezim Ramadani 1-0-2. Totals 7 7-11 23
Avon (3-3) John Burdick 4-1-9, Sean Herrmann 2-3-9, Pat McKearney 2-0-4, Jake Sartain 2-3-8, Justin Reichler 1-0-2, Nate Laszewski 3-0-7, Matt Reagan 0-0-0, Dan Reagan 0-0-0, Jordan Levine 0-0-0, Jared Rosenblatt 0-0-0, Alex Zacchio 0-0-0, Zach Stirling 0-0-0. Totals 14 7-16 39
Three-point goals: Herrmann (A) 2, Sartain (A), Laszewski (A) 2