Blue Cross Arena
|Avon and Harley-Allendale-Columbia each had a chance in the final 10 seconds to win Wednesday’s Class C state tournament qualifying game. |
The way things have gone lately for Avon, it’s no surprise the Braves came up big again.
Steve Coleman’s turnaround baseline shot from six feet with 7.8 seconds left lifted Avon to a 49-48 win over H-A-C in a thriller at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial, giving the Braves their third straight victory by a single point.
“Everybody has been stepping up,’’ said senior swingman Greg Stanton, who scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds. “So I guess we’re getting used to it.’’
Not that coach John Roberts necessarily enjoys the drama.
“Believe me,’’ he said, “if I could make it so we could win by a few more, I’d be happy as heck. But when you get to this level, all the teams are really good. You better play well. You better weather the storm, because if you lose you’re done.’’
Avon (18-6) also survived a last-second shot by H-A-C star Marques Williams. After a timeout, the dynamic senior point guard drove the length of the floor, but his running bank shot from about eight feet was a bit strong as the horn sounded.
“We wanted the ball in our best player’s hands. I’m going to go with him till the end,’’ coach Rob Blackwell said. “He’s human.’’
Blackwell knew that without Williams, an All-Greater Rochester guard who came alive for 15 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, the Wolves (18-4) wouldn’t even have celebrated a Section V title, let alone be in position to reach states.
Avon next plays Section VI’s Randolph (21-2) in Saturday’s 2 p.m. state quarterfinals at SUNY Buffalo. Senior forward Greg McKeown gave the Braves 15 points off the bench, including a game-tying tip-in with 3:58 left and his third 3-pointer that upped the Avon lead to 47-43 with 2:30 to go.
Avon, a No. 4 seed that upset No. 1 Perry in the semifinals, was 3-1 in overtime games in the regular season. It nipped No. 2 Marion, 49-48, on Brandon Freeman’s jumper in the Class CCC title game and edged Campbell-Savona, 44-43, on Stanton’s free throw with 40 seconds left in Monday’s pre-qualifier. C-S had the ball for the final 27 seconds, but Avon denied it a basket.
“That’s a good defensive team,’’ Blackwell said.
Stanton guarded the super-quick Williams much of the first half and made him take several long jumpers while limiting him to six points. But it tired Stanton, so point guard Paul Banach took over. Avon led 26-22 at halftime behind Stanton’s 10 points. Forward Juno Simmons’ 10 kept H-A-C afloat.
Williams and Simmons led an 18-9 third-quarter charge that put the Wolves ahead 40-35. Williams’ free throws and baseline ‘3’ with 24 seconds left gave H-A-C a 48-47 lead, but Coleman hit the winner. He initially looked shut off on the baseline.
“I knew time was running out, so I just shot it,’’ the junior forward said. “I figured it might be the best shot we’d get.’’