AVON >> The Avon High girls basketball team has lost games under coach Frank Winters before. But seldom have the Falcons lost by 23 points. Yes, Bristol Central beat Avon by 31 points in last year’s Class L tournament but that was a team that had been decimated by injuries.
Hall beat Avon last week, 58-35. It was a Warrior team that had lost its previous two games by 31 points (vs. Farmington) and 26 points (South Windsor).
The next day, Avon hosted feisty rival Granby on its home court. The Falcon offense struggled to score points but they made up for it defensively, limiting the Bears to just 19 points in a 40-19 decision.
“We had a team meeting (before the Granby game). We didn’t have time to practice,” Waters said. “The thing I thought we could change was our defense and our defensive intensity. In our first two games, we didn’t not play well defensively.
“Granby is always a scrappy, tough team. It was good for us to play that type of opponent tonight,” he said.
It was a good sign going into the Christmas holidays for the Falcons (2-1, 2-0 NCCC). Avon hosts its annual holiday tournament on Saturday night with Northwest Catholic (2-0) and Tolland (1-2) squaring off in one semifinal at 6 p.m. and the Falcons hosting Glastonbury (1-1) at 7:30 p.m. The tournament consolation game will be Monday at 6 p.m. with the championship game at 7:30 p.m.
“Avon did some very nice things defensively,” Granby coach Dean Godin said. “They were able to pull away because they hit their free throws. We missed a ton of layups (14) but we you play a team that is as well versed defensively, they take you out of things you want to do.”
Neither team was particularly strong on the offensive end. Olivia Welter had a game-high 10 points for Avon while Granby’s Julia Mazzotta had nine points. Avon shot 6-of-20 from the free throw line while Granby was 8-of-20.
“Our defensive intensity from the first minute to the last was were we want it to be,” Waters said. “Tonight, we played defense the way we’re capable of and the way we will need to play it.”
Avon pulled down 42 rebounds, 32 on the defensive side of the ball. Six-foot-3 center Abby Laszewski scored just five points but she pulled down 17 rebounds (12 defensively), had three blocks and three assists. All-State guard Anna Schrecengost scored six points, had seven rebounds and four assists.
It was 2-2 after one period. Avon extended its lead to seven in the second quarter and led by eight at the half, 17-9. One quick 20 second stretch allowed Avon to take command of the contest.
Granby’s Krista Iwanicki drove to the basket with 3:29 left in the third quarter to cut the Avon lead to six points, 21-15. Avon’s Michaela Marcus responded with a three-point shot to extend the lead to nine, 24-15. On the inbounds play, Avon’s Kayleigh Sherman stole the ball and drove to the basket for a layup.
Granby missed its next shot and Laszewski ripped down the rebound. She quickly tossed it out to Welter, who drove to the basket on a fast break for another basket and a 28-15 lead. In 20 seconds, Avon had extended its lead from six to 13 points.
Godin was pleased with his team’s defense. Avon shot only 31 percent from the floor, sinking just 16 of 51 shots. “It was a good defensive effort by both teams,” he said. “It is what will hang our hat on.”
It won’t get any easier for the Bears (1-2, 1-1 NCCC). Granby will travel to Durham to challenge Coginchaug on Saturday night and then continue play in the NCCC with games at Ellington (Jan. 3), against Suffield (Jan. 7) and at Bolton (Jan. 10). Coginchaug, Ellington and Bolton each won at least 15 games a year ago.
Marcus and Shannon Curry each had six points for Avon while Lauren Grashaw and Iwanka had five points each for the Bears.
Avon 40, Granby 19
Granby (19) Krista Iwanka 2-1-5, Mariah Rocheleau 0-0-0, Lauren Grashaw 1-3-5, Maddy Dixon 0-0-0 , Julia Mazzotta 2-4-9, Shae Martel 0-0-0, Sam Bates 0-0-0, Sammy McAndrew 0-0-0, Emily Uhil 0-0-0. Totals 5 8-20 19
Avon (40) Anna Schrecengost 2-2-6, Kayleigh Sherman 1-1-3, Abby Laszewski 1-3-5, Olivia Welter 5-0-10, Lauren Miller 0-0-0, Michaela Marcus 2-0-6, Shannon Curry 3-0-6, Alex Benedict 0-0-0, Caroline Schaefer 0-0-0, Emma Hartman 1-0-2, Madison Mains 0-0-0, Aly Sartain 1-0-2. Totals 16 6-20 40
Granby (1-2) 2 6 2 4 — 19
Avon (2-1) 2 15 11 12 — 40
Three-point goals: Mazzotta (G), Marcus (A) 2