AVON, January 19 – It was an emotional evening at the Avon High gymnasium on Friday night as the Avon High boys basketball team renewed their vibrant rivalry with Farmington.
A year ago, the Indians swept a pair of games from Falcons to retain possession of the Taft Cup, including a season-ending victory in Avon courtesy of a three-point shot from Kevin Dunst with 1.6 seconds left in the game.
On Friday, the visiting Indians led by nine at halftime. In the third quarter, their big 6-foot-3 freshman Bube Momah hit the floor awkwardly after vying for a rebound, injuring his hip. The game was delayed nearly 30 minutes while paramedics treated Momah and took his away on a stretcher to a local hospital.
Avon, meanwhile, buckled down on defense. They gave up just two field goals and seven points in the second half to grind out a 38-32 CCC West victory over Farmington. Not only did Avon win possession of the Taft Cup but Falcon senior Jordan Williams became the sixth boy and 11th player in school history to score more than 1,000 career points.
Williams needed just six points to get to 1,000 points and the Avon fans were chomping at the bit to celebrate with the senior forward. Farmington’s aggressive man-to-man defense made life difficult for Williams and the Falcon offense.
Williams scored just eight points – all from the foul line. Two free throws with 1:30 left in regulation gave him 1,000 points but more importantly, it extended a slim Falcon lead to four points, 34-30 – the largest Avon lead to that point of the contest.
Avon sank 12 of 14 free throws in the second half and were 6-of-6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to earn the win. The Falcons (6-3, 3-1 CCC West Patriot) have won five of their last six games with the only loss coming in overtime to Hartford Public on Tuesday.
“We struggled in close games (in the past),” Avon High coach Kris Pedra said. “Now that they are seniors, they have the composure to settle down, get a good shot and buckle down on defense. That’s senior leadership from our six seniors.”
“Give Avon credit for winning this game,” Farmington coach Duane Witter said. “They took it away from us in the second half. They hit shots and got stops on defense. We just made too many turnovers in the second half. We just didn’t take care of the basketball.”
Too many turnovers and too few offensive rebounds – especially in the second half — slowed down the Indians (4-5, 1-4 CCC West Patriot).
Witter was pleased with his team’s defensive efforts. They gave up a season-low 38 points. “When you give up that few points, you expect to win,” he said. “I’m proud of the boys and we did tonight (defensively). We lost the game because of too many turnovers.”
Both teams played tough defense. It was 8-8 after one period before Farmington moved out to a 25-16 lead after two periods. Williams didn’t have a point.
“When we play Farmington, I always know they have my number (in mind),” he said. “It was definitely a struggle to get the ball and get open but my teammates played amazing today. They kept us in the game.”
Pedra credited Williams’ maturity on the court and the realization that teams will collapse on him. He came into the game averaging 18.6 points a game with a team-leading 23 three-point shots.
“He’s a 20 point a game scorer. Jordan has to recognize that for us to win – at times, Jordan will have to be really unselfish. He did that tonight. He worked hard at the offensive end, worked really hard defensively and trusted his teammates,” Pedra said.
Guard Brett Muni led the Falcons with a game-high 14 points while Charlie Reiss and Riley Welter each had six points.
Avon scored the first two baskets of the third quarter on a Reiss drive in the lane and a wide-open Muni scoring after a nice pass from Connor Harris to cut the Farmington lead to 25-20. After Momah was hurt and the delay, Avon kept moving forward.
Farmington extended their lead to seven on a pair of free throws from Grayson Harr but Avon scored the final eight points of the quarter to take a 28-27 lead. At one point, Farmington turned the ball over on four straight possessions and didn’t score a field goal in the third quarter.
Avon extended their lead to 30-27 before Farmington’s Jake Sytulek drained a three-pointer with 4:52 left in the game to tie it at 30-30. Sytulek had a team-high 12 points. No other teammate scored more than three points.
Welter gave Avon a 32-30 lead with a nice move in the lane with 4:30 remaining. Williams sank two free throws with 1:30 left to score his 1,000th point and extend the Avon lead to 34-30. Sytulek’s inside basket with 1:16 remaining cut the Avon lead to two, 34-32 but Welter and Williams each sank foul shots in the final 53 seconds to secure the win.
The two teams will meet again in the final regular season contest of the season on February 19 in Farmington.
NOTES: Williams, who was on the varsity team as a freshman, had long eyed earning a spot on Avon’s 1,000 point banner. The last boy to score more than 1,000 points was Pedra, who achieved that milestone 13 years ago in 2005. … Other boys at Avon to score more than 1,000 career points include Don Friedberg (1980), Larry Locke (1994), Andy Milward (1998), Mike Taft (2002) and Pedra. … The Taft Cup 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. The winner of each Farmington vs. Avon game get to take home the trophy after each respective game.
Avon 38, Farmington 32
Farmington (32) Nick Teixeira 1 0 3, Jake Dunst 1 0 3, Makhi Hawkins 1 0 2, Tristan Grande 1 0 3, Conor Geary 1 0 2, Grayson Herr 0 2 2, Bube Momah 1 0 2, Jake Sytulek 3 4 12, Jacob Smith 1 1 3. Totals 10 7 32
Avon (38) Ryan Bartkiewicz 0-0-0, Jack Hall 0-0-0, Brett Muni 5 3 14, Charlie Reiss 3 0 6, Marek Cierniewski 1 2 4, Jordan Williams 0 8 8, Riley Welter 2 2 6, Connor Harris 0-0-0 Totals 11 15 38
Farmington (4-5) 8 17 2 5 — 32
Avon (6-3) 8 8 12 10 — 38
Three-point goals: Teixeira (F), Dunst (F), Grande (F), Sytulek (F) 2; Muni (A)