FARMINGTON, Jan. 26 – In one week, the Avon High boys basketball has issued a pair of knockout blows to two teams that have been giving the Falcons trouble over the years.
On Thursday night, Avon gave up just eight points in the first half to beat three-time defending NCCC champion Enfield for just the second time in the last three years with a 59-35 decision.
And on Saturday afternoon, the Falcons snapped a 10-game losing streak against Farmington, giving up just 11 points in the first half in a 50-31 victory to win possession of the Taft Cup for the first time since 2005.
Since losing to Farmington a week ago, the Falcons (11-2) have allowed just 45, 35 and 31 points in consecutive games.
“Avon is a very talented team,” Farmington coach Duane Witter said. “They have a college (type) front line (with players who are) 6-foot-6, 6-5 and 6-3. They’re very athletic and strong. Their guards do a good job pressuring up top but really the foundation (of their defense) is their front line guys.”
Farmington (5-7) tried to be patient and tried to find a weakness in Avon’s 2-3 zone but they had difficultly getting the ball inside and past 6-foot-4 Brandon Feinberg, 6-foot-3 Patrick McKearney and 6-4 Justin Reichler.
But they were only able to get five points in the first quarter and six points in the second quarter.
“We’re making smarter decisions defensively,” Avon coach Chris Vozzolo said. “We’re playing a nice zone we’re waiting until teams make mistakes on us and we can get some turnovers.”
Farmington cut the lead to seven points in the third quarter but couldn’t cut into the Falcon lead. Will DiStefano, a 6-foot-4 forward off the bench, scored inside off an assist from point guard Ryan Marioni to extend the lead to nine, 29-21.
Marioni hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 11. The Indians got the ball into the low post for a good shot but missed it. They also missed after two offensive rebounds.
At the other end, Marioni hit a three-point shot and then stole the ball and drove in for a layup and a 36-21 lead with 2:06 left in the third quarter. The Indians never got any closer again.
Marioni led the Falcons with a game-high 15 points, seven assists and had five of Avon’s 11 steals. Feinberg scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds. Patrick McKearney had 10 points.
Colin Cheesman was the only Farmington player in double figures with 12 points.
“Coach has been preaching defense all year,” Feinberg said. “Last weekend, we kinda let down in the fourth quarter. This game, we knew we had to play 32 minutes and we finally got it.”
Farmington scored 18 unanswered points to break open a tie ballgame in its first game of the season against Avon and earn a 65-47 victory.
In consecutive games, Avon has beaten Enfield, which had won three in a row over the Falcons and five of the last six meetings, and Farmington.
“It’s a big confidence booster, a big boost,” Vozzolo said. “We’re excited and our confidence is high but we hope to be playing our best basketball about a month from now (late February and early March).”
Avon got to take home the Taft Cup, which goes home with the winner of each game. Marioni and Feinberg were named co-MVPs of the game. The trophy is named after long-time Avon High coach Jim Taft, who led the Falcons to 368 wins, eight NCCC championships and a Class S state title in 1989. He coached Avon from 1978 to 2003 and saw the victory on Saturday.
Avon 50, Farmington 31
Avon (50) Ryan Marioni 4-5-15, Sean Herrmann 3-2-9, Brandon Feinberg 3-2-8, Patrick McKearney 5-0-10, Jake Sartrin 0-0-0, Brad Fisher 0-0-0, Justin Reichler 0-2-2, Will DiStefano 3-0-6. Totals 18-11-50
Farmington (31) Ken Jones 4-0-9, Justin Mango 1-0-2, Vasil Borisvich 1-0-2, Colin Cheesman 2-8-12, Bobby Ravis 0-1-1, Richie Freckleton 1-0-2, Jayson Martin 1-1-3. Totals 10-10-31
Avon (11-2) 10 15 11 14 – 50
Farmington (5-7) 5 6 12 8 — 31
Three-point goals: Marioni (A) 2, Herrmann (A), Jones (F)