AVON, March 5, 2009 – With a swarming defense and opportunistic offense, the Avon High boys basketball team ran away from Canton Thursday night to win the NCCC boys basketball tournament for the fourth time in seven years with a dominating 71-55 victory in front of a vocal crowd of several hundred that packed the Avon High gym.
Canton’s Chris Robitaille had a team-high 25 points but never had any easy shots and was double and tripled-teamed in the low post for a great deal of the game. Canton sharpshooter Andrew Crowley, who came into the game averaging 18 points a game, was held to a season-low five points.
Meanwhile the Falcons won their 19th straight game with Joe Ives driving through the heart of the Warrior defense for 26 points and sophomore Tyler D’Onofrio scoring 13 points, including 11 in the decisive first half.
“We emphasized defense and rebounding,” Avon coach Tim Curtis said. “We always emphasize defense. Tonight, we played exceptionally well on both ends of the floor.”
Crowley was shadowed by Avon’s Scott Mancini for much of the night and didn’t get as many shots as he usually does. Robitaille attracted plenty of attention in the lane, including pressure from Ives.
The pressure left Canton (21-2) a step behind for most of the evening. The Warriors had plenty of shots that hit the rim and a few that went in and out of the cylinder. The 55 points was a season-low for Canton, which 71 points in an overtime loss to Avon in February and three games with 81 points or more.
“We were a step slower,” Canton coach Eric Deegan said. “It was like were in quicksand for a while there and (Avon) was sprinting to the basket.”
Avon led for most of the first quarter but Canton cut the lead to one, 20-19, after Robitaille put his own rebound back in, James Rosshirt drained a three-point shot and Nick Quattro grabbed a rebound and laid it back in with 5:41 left in the second quarter.
But Avon went on a 13-0 run to seize command of the game. D’Onofrio and Ives each scored six points in the run as Canton turned the ball over four times and was called for an offensive foul.
“Avon was just more aggressive than we were and it paid off for them,” Deegan said.
Leading by three, D’Onofrio found a hole in the defense, drove the basket, was fouled and sank the foul shot to extend the lead to six, 25-19. After Robitaille was called for a charge, the Falcons took nearly a minute to patiently pass the ball around the perimeter until they found an opening for D’Onofrio, who drove in for another two points and a 27-19 lead.
Austin Kick stole the inbounds pass and fed Ives, who drove the basket for a 29-19 edge. D’Onofrio capped the surge by grabbing his own rebound and putting it back in for a 33-19 lead.
Canton cut the lead to nine with 2:47 left in the third quarter when Robitaille grabbed a rebound and put it back in. But Avon responded with an 8-0 run to close out the third quarter and the contest. Andrew McGee scored twice in the paint off assists from Jack O’Brien and Ives scored another four points on fast break drives.
“Joe Ives is the one that makes us go,” Curtis said. “When he is shooting that well, we’re a tough team to beat.” Ives had a team-high five assists as well.
D’Onofrio led the Falcons with seven rebounds while Lambert Givens and Andrew McGee each yanked down five each. D’Onofrio stepped into the starting lineup after senior Zak Blawie hurt his foot in a recent game.
For Canton, Robitaille had 16 rebounds, a block and three assists while Crowley had four assists and five rebounds. Albert Gray had a career-high 10 points and a pair of three-point shots. Rosshirt, slowed by an ankle injury in the semifinal win over Stafford, still drained three 3-point shots.
NOTES: Nice touch by the Avon High students who all sang the national anthem before the game. … Canton’s only other appearance in the NCCC Tournament championship game came 13 years ago in 1996 when they fell to Windsor Locks.
Avon 71, Canton 55
Canton (55) Andrew Crowley 2-0-5, Albert Gray 4-0-10, James Rosshirt 3-0-9, Nick Quattro 1-0-2, Chris Robitaille 11-3-25, Connor Smyth 1-0-2, Mike Setzler 1-0-2. Totals 23-7-55
Avon (71) Austin Kick 2-0-4, Tyler D’Onofrio 7-1-13, Lambert Givens 3-0-6, Joe Ives 10-8-26, Scott Mancini 1-0-3, Andrew McGee 4-0-8, Jack O’Brien 2-1-5, Eric Stevens 1-0-2, Rob Carver 1-2-4, Will Brisco 0-0-0. Totals 30-8-71
Halftime: Avon 40-27
Three-point goals: Crowley (C), Gray (C) 2, Rosshirt (C) 3, D’Onofrio (A), Ives (A), O’Brien (A); Records: Avon 19-4, Canton 21-2
Tuesday, March 3
Canton 60, Stafford 45
Avon 57, Windsor Locks 52
Saturday, Feb. 28
NCCC Tournament, 1st rnd
Canton 66, Tolland 47
Avon 65, Ellington 51
Win. Locks 46, Bolton 44, OT
Stafford 51, Granby 46
Recent NCCC Tournament championship games
2009: Avon 71, Canton 55
2008: Coventry 56, Avon 52
2007: Avon 59, Granby 52
2006: Granby 45, Tolland 43
2005: Avon 58, Enfield 40
2004: Tolland 41, Avon 27
2003: Avon 56, Windsor Locks 51
2002: Suffield 44, Tolland 43
2001: Windsor Locks 53, East Granby 51
2000: Avon 77, Ellington 69
1999: E.O. Smith 48, Tolland 41
1998: Avon 72, Stafford 59
1997: Somers 65, E.O. Smith 54
1996: Windsor Locks 55, Canton 39
1994: Somers vs. E.O. Smith
1993: Somers 79, Tolland 69
1992: E.O. Smith 66, Somers 50
1990: Avon 73, Somers 71
1988: E.O. Smith 47, Avon 37
1987: Suffield 53, Avon 51
Recent NCCC champions
2009: Avon (13-0)
2008: Coventry (13-0)
2007: Avon (13-0)
2006: Granby (16-0)
2005: Avon & Tolland (15-1)
2003: Avon & Enfield (15-1)
2002: Avon & Suffield (14-2)
2001: Windsor Locks (14-2)
2000: Suffield (15-1)
1999: E.O. Smith (16-0)
1998: Avon (16-0)
1997: Somers (15-1)
1996: E.O. Smith (15-1)
1995: Windsor Locks (15-1)
1994: E.O. Smith (16-0)
1993: Somers & EOS (14-2)
1991: E.O. Smith (16-0)
1988: Avon (15-1)