AVON, February 21, 2020 – It was getting a little hot on the court for the Avon High boys basketball team as the final minutes ticked off the clock Friday night. The Falcons, who had led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, has seen their big lead dwindle away.
Visiting Simsbury cut the lead to one point with a basket from Henry White with 2:29 left in the game.
But Avon didn’t panic. They patiently passed the ball around the perimeter of the floor, looking for an open shot. There were few to be found but Ryan McGuire found a little space and hit a jumper in the lane with 1:28 remaining to extend the lead to three and help the Falcons beat Simsbury on Friday night, 46-42 in CCC West Patriot action.
McGuire’s jumper in the lane gave the Falcons a 45-42 lead. And the Falcons buckled down and played some steady defense. Avon’s Jack Hall blocked a shot from Simsbury’s Ian Calabrese out of bounds with 25.6 seconds to go and five seconds later, it was McGuire with a big rebound of a shot by Calabrese that bounced off the rim.
Hall hit a free throw with 11.8 seconds left to extend the lead to four points, 46-42 and help give the Falcons a season sweep of Simsbury (4-15). Hall finished with a team-high 13 points for Avon (12-7) while McGuire added 11 points.
It was the second straight win for the Falcons after they went 1-4 in a tough five-game stretch earlier this month against Hartford Public Tolland, Conard, Northwest Catholic and Glastonbury. The only win in that stretch was a three-point win over Conard.
“I thought we got a little tight (in the fourth quarter),” Avon High coach Kris Pedra said. “The boys stopped playing loose. I think they were playing not to lose instead of going out to win the game. But you know what? Ryan McGuire made a big bucket late, Jack hit a key foul shot and we did what we had to do to win.”
Will Saucier had nine points for Avon while Tyler Brokenshire added six. Calabrese led all scorers with 18 points, including five 3-point goals, while White scored nine.
It was Calabrese who helped get Simsbury back into the game. Avon led by 16 points at halftime, 26-10, and extended the lead to 17, 30-13 midway through the third quarter. But Calabrese hit back-to-back three-point shots to cut the lead to nine.
Avon led by 13 points early in the fourth quarter when Brokenshire tipped in a missed shot from Hall with 7:45 remaining in the game. But an 11-2 run by the Trojans with five different players scoring cut the Falcon lead to four, 41-37 with 4:52 to go.
McGuire drove the baseline to extend the lead to six, 43-37, with 3:40 left in the fourth quarter but Calabrese drained a deep three-point shot from the corner with 3:08 remaining and saw White score on a jumper with 2:29 left to cut the lead to one, 43-42.
But that is as close as Simsbury would get.
Avon closes out the regular season with a match at defending state champion Farmington on Monday night at 6:45 p.m. The winner of the game gets to keep the Taft Cup throughout the offseason.
“Monday is just about pride,” Pedra said. “It is a pride game for us. Let’s go over there (to Farmington) and play for pride.”
Avon beat the Indians, 45-42 on January 25 to win possession of the Taft Cup. Earlier this week, Avon snapped a two-game losing streak with a 63-46 victory over Bloomfield.
Avon 46, Simsbury 42
Simsbury (42) Ian Calabrese 6-1-18, DeAundre Williams 1-0-2, Jeffrey Coleman 2-1-5, Thomas Dennehy 0-0-0, Chris Kokines 2-0-4, Daniel O’Connor 1-0-2, Henry White 3-3-9, Samuel Scott 1-0-2, Riordan 0-0-0. Totals 16-5-42
Avon (46) Ryan McGuire 5-0-11, Henry McGarrah 2-0-4, Thomas Howard 1-1-3, Jack Hall 5-1-13, Paul Waweru 0-0-0, Will Saucier 4-1-9, Dan O’Brien 0-0-0, Tyler Favre 0-0-0, Tyler Brokenshire 2-2-6, Issac Aquilar 0-0-0. Totals 19 5 46
Simsbury (4-15) 5 5 16 24 — 42
Avon (12-7) 11 15 11 9 — 46
Three-point goals: Calabrese (S) 5, McGuire (A), Hall (A) 2