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Defense helps Avon clamp down on Canton and snap their 10-game winning streak

Avon’s Jordan Williams (25) drives through the lane to the basket in Saturday night’s 58-44 win over Canton.

AVON, February 3 – The Avon High boys basketball saw long-time rival Canton carve them up in the first half of Saturday night’s non-conference clash. Canton senior Ryan Enns sliced through the lane for 12 points in the first half as the Warriors held a three-point lead.

The Falcons adjusted. They closed down the lanes that Enns used to get to the basket. They boxed out more effectively and ripped down more rebounds. Over an eight-minute stretch, Avon limited the visiting Warriors to just one field goal as they pulled away for a 58-44 victory.

It was the third straight win for Avon (9-5), which snapped Canton’s 10-game winning streak.

“Our energy completed shifted (in the second half),” said Avon senior forward Jordan Williams, who had a game-high 20 points, including a pair of three-point shots. “In the first half, we came out a little slow and our defense was lacking a bit. We had to focus on defense and locking up our man. Once we started doing that, our offense began to open up.

“Everyone knew this was a big game,” Williams said. “We were not going to let them come into our house and get to 15-1.”

Canton’s Ryan Enns had 12 of his team-high 15 points in the first half of Saturday night’s loss in Avon.

Sparked by Enns’ drives to the basket, visiting Canton (14-2) led by as many as six points in the first half and held a 27-24 lead at the half. Enns had 10 of his 12 first half points in the second quarter.

But Avon came out strong in the second half. Riley Welter and Brett Muni scored in the lane and Welter drained a three-pointer to give Avon a 31-27 lead. Canton didn’t grab an offensive rebound on their first three possessions of the quarter.

“We wanted to make that first run (of the second half) to put them on their heels,” Avon’s Connor Harris said.

A three-point play from Williams gave Avon a five-point lead before Canton responded with a baseline drive from Enns and a rebound basket in the paint from Tim Keating to cut the lead to one, 34-33 with 2:17 left in the third quarter.

Harris responded by draining a three-point shot from the top of the key for a four-point lead. A foul shot from Welter swelled the lead to five points.

Canton’s Matt Rose sank a basket inside with 1:18 remaining in the third quarter to cut the Avon lead to three, 38-35. That is as close as it would get.

In the next 8:23, Avon gave up one point and didn’t allow Canton to score a single field goal. In the meantime, they scored the next 20 points to put the game away. The Warriors scored seven points in the final 55 seconds of the contest.

Avon;s Riley Welter protects the ball as he drives to the basket in Saturday night’s win over Canton.

“We ran out of gas,” Canton coach Craig Archambeault said. “I don’t like to make excuses but this was our fourth game this week. (Avon) made a great adjustment at halftime. Credit to them. They took away (Enns) drives to the basket and that hurt us. (Guard) Luke (Brown) was fatigued and it was hard to get him going.”

Brown, who had a game-high 25 points in a win over Somers on Friday night, finished with seven points. Enns led the Warriors with 15 points – with 12 coming in the first half. Grant Lange finished with 10 but six came in the final minute on a pair of three-point shots.

Earlier this week, the Warriors beat Windsor Locks and Granby on back-to-back days. With the three wins this week, Canton moved into first place in the NCCC.

“This was house money,” Archambault said. “We schedule these games to help get ready for the (state) tournament. This was great tournament preparation. It was a good crowd.”

And they were tested. “How do we respond when a team takes away our strength?” he said.

Avon High coach Kris Pedra was pleased with the victory. “That’s a really good team, a well-coached team,” Pedra said of the Warriors. “They move the well and they play hard. That’s a hard-nosed team over there but our boys responded.”

Williams had a team-high 20 points while Muni scored 12 and Harris added 10. Reiss and Welter scored seven points each.

Avon was solid early in the fourth quarter. Williams drained a three-point shot to push the lead to eight. A baseline jumper from Reiss pushed the lead to 10. About a minute later, Harris pulled down the offensive rebound and scored to increase the lead to 12 points. It got as high as 22 points.

Avon’s Marek Cierniewski (15) battles Canton’s Luke Brown for a rebound in Saturday night’s non-conference contest.

The game was the 113th game in the series that began in 1960 and the Falcons have won 15 of the last 16 games in the series. Avon leads the overall series, 75-38. Canton’s last win over Avon was in 2016.

The Warriors return to action on Wednesday when they resume NCCC action hosting East Granby. Avon travels to Platt in Meriden on Tuesday.

Avon 58, Canton 44
At Avon
Canton (44) Luke Brown 3-0-7, Jack Mansur 0-0-0, Thomas Amrose 0-0-0, Ryan Enns 6 3-6 15, Grant Lange 3 1-1 10, Tim Keating 1 2-6 4, Matt Rose 1-0-2, Mitchell Cormier 3 0-2 6, Jack Rose 0-0-0. Totals 17 6-15 44
Avon (58) Ryan Bartkiewicz 0-0-0, Jack Hall 0-0-0, Brett Muni 4 4-4 12, Charlie Reiss 1 5-6 7, Marek Cierniewski 1-0-2, Noah Hay 0-0-0, Jordan Williams 7 8-10 20, Riley Welter 2 2-4 7, Ryan McGuire 0-0-0, Connor Harris 4 1-1 10. Totals 17 20-25 58
Canton (14-2)                        15  12   8    9  — 44
Avon (9-5)                              11  13  16  18  — 58
Three-point goals: Brown (Ca), Lange (Ca) 3, Harris (A), Williams (A) 2, Welter (A)

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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