AVON, January 25, 2020 – Avon High junior Jack Hall struggled to get free in Saturday’s CCC West game against arch-rival Farmington. The Indians kept a man on Hall throughout the game, rotating different players to slow down the high-scoring forward.
Avon High coach Kris Pedra tells Hall to keep moving because eventually the defense will wear down, opening up opportunities for the Falcons.
Hall eventually broke through. With Avon trailing by six points with 4:05 remaining, Hall scored 11 consecutive points in the fourth quarter, including a three-point shot from an estimated 25 feet away, to help lift the Falcons to a 45-42 victory over the defending state champion Indians.
Hall had a game-high 25 points while Tyler Brokenshire added 10 points as Avon retained possession of the Taft Cup, which is awarded to the winner at the conclusion of each Avon vs. Farmington boys contest.
Avon (9-3, 4-1 CCC West Patriot) trailed by six points, 38-32, before the Falcons rattled off 11 straight points to take a 43-38 lead.
Hall hit four straight free throws to pull Avon with two points, 38-36. After a steal, Hall soared in for the layup to tie the game at 38-38 with 3:01 remaining. The Indians turned the ball over on an offensive foul and on Avon’s next possession, Hall drained a three-point shot from 10 feet beyond the top of the circle for a 41-38 lead with 1:50 left in the game.
“That was the shot of the game,” Pedra said. And Hall got the shot away despite a hand in the face from Farmington’s Jacob Smith.
The Falcon fans were still celebrating that shot when Hall got another steal and drove to the basket and was fouled with 1:28 left and the gym got even louder. Hall sank both foul shots for a 43-38 lead.
Hall was 11-of-14 from the free throw line and sank 10 straight free throws at one point.
“We got a few turnovers from traps that changed the tide of the game,” Pedra said. “Those steals (by Hall) were due to the traps from Ryan McGuire and Tyler Brokenshire.”
The Indians (5-4, 1-3 CCC West Patriot) cut the lead to two on a pair of free throws from Smith with 1:19 remaining. But Avon was able to burn off nearly 40 seconds with some quick, sharp passing before McGuire was fouled. He two free throws to extend the lead to five, 45-40 with 34 seconds left.
Farmington cut the lead to three, 45-42, on a rebound basket from Nico Bonzakis with 6.7 seconds left. Avon missed two foul shots with 5.0 seconds remaining but a three-point shot from Farmington at the buzzer was off target.
“Both teams put forth great defensive efforts,” Farmington coach Duane Witter said. “It was a back-and-forth game. You can look back and there is a single play here or a single play there that could have turned the game in one team’s favor. Avon made those plays tonight. We didn’t.”
It was Avon’s first win over Farmington since the 2018 season with the Indians sweeping both contests last year when they captured the CIAC Division III state championship.
“It feels great (to beat Farmington),” Hall said. “It feels huge. They’re a great team and that’s why I love playing them. You’re getting the best out of every player and you get the best out of us. It makes everyone better players.
“I couldn’t even sleep last night I was so excited for this game,” he said.
The game was tied four times in the first three quarters. Avon had a two-point lead with 2:31 left in the third quarter before the Indians closed out the quarter with a 7-2 run for a 30-27 advantage.
Farmington extended their lead to 38-32 with 4:21 remaining on a drive to the basket from Jacob Smith. But the Indians couldn’t find a way to close out the game/
“It was great to play a game like that,” Witter said. “The experience you get makes you better, makes you stronger.”
Smith led Farmington with 11 points, including a three-point shot while Nico Bonzakis scored 10 points. Grayson Herr added eight points.
The Falcons have a week off before they return to action next Friday night against Hartford Public. The Indians get back to action on Tuesday night when they travel to Simsbury.
NOTES: 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.
Avon 45, Farmington 42
Farmington (42) Tyler Cortland 0-0-0, Jordan Anthony 0-0-0, Tristan Grande 2 4-4 6, Nick Duncan 3 1-2 6, Jacob Smith 4 2-3 11, Nico Bonzakis 5-0-10, Grayson Herr 4 0-3 8. Totals 8 7-12 42
Avon (45) Ryan McGuire 1 3-6 5, Thomas Howard 0-0-0, Jack Hall 6 11-14 25, Ben Angus 0-0-0, Will Soucier 1-0-2, Tyler Favre 1 1-1 3, Tyler Brokenshire 3 2-6 10. Totals 12 17-29 45
Three-point goals: Smith (F), Hall (A) 2, Brokenshire (A) 2
CCC West standings