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Avon takes command in win over rival Canton

AVON, Dec. 22 – Canton High coach Eric Deegan hoped to upgrade his team’s schedule to get them ready for challenging games in February and March. Among the upgrades was a second game with Avon.

Avon’s Robert Carver (42) banks two of his team-high 16 points off the glass over Canton’s Chad Huff (40) and Connor Smyth in a 66-55 win over Canton.

The Falcons gave the Canton plenty of items to work on in a 66-55 non-conference victory Tuesday night. Avon (2-1, 0-0 NCCC) received a balanced effort from Robert Carver (16 points), Andrew McGee (15 points) and Jack O’Brien (14) as the Falcons erased a six-point second quarter deficit with a 19-6 run to take command of the contest.

Canton cut the lead to four twice in the third quarter but the Falcons were able to pull away, building a lead as large as 16 points. Andrew Crowley led Canton (1-1, 0-0) with 22 points while Connor Smyth added 12.

“We wanted to control the rebounding. We wanted to get our big guy the ball (Carver) and we wanted to control tempo of the game,” Avon’s first-year coach Chris Vozzolo said. “I think we did all three tonight.

“One thing we stressed was being patient and smart with the basketball. We picked our spots. We’re a transition team but we knew we had to be patient and not force the ball down low,” he said.

Avon had countless drives to the basket and layups that pierced the heart of the Canton defense. It wasn’t the same tenacious Canton defense that challenged Avon in two thrilling games a year ago. Of course, it is just game two for Canton in a 20-game campaign and they were hardly tested defensively last week in an easy victoryover Portland.

“The effort was there and we played hard,” Canton coach Eric Deegan said. “We just didn’t play very good. Avon killed us on the boards. They got the high-low play nearly every time they wanted.”

A three-pointer and two nice drives to the basket from Crowley helped Canton grab an 18-13 lead in the first quarter. They extended the lead to six, 26-20 midway through the second quarter. But the Falcons used a 19-6 run to close out the second quarter and take a 39-32 halftime lead.

The Falcons had a two-point lead, 32-30, with a minute left in the second quarter before Stevens grabbed a loose rebound and popped it back in. After a Canton miss, Avon raced back downcourt and O’Brien drained his first three-pointer of the game for a seven-point lead, 37-30. Crowley hit a jumper in the lane to cut the lead to five but Telfer drove through the heart of the Warrior defense less than 10 seconds later to extend the lead to seven.

“They’re a quick team. A deep team,” Deegan said. “We have to pick our spots. We can’t run and gun with them and expect it to work out. We have to play more disciplined offensively.”

Canton cut the lead to four twice in the third quarter but couldn’t make a key defensive stop. At one point, Avon scored 10 straight points in the paint to turn a four-point lead into a 14-point bulge.

The challenges continue for both teams in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Avon hosts Northwest Catholic next Tuesday at home while Canton hosts Class M finalist Bloomfield at home, also on Tuesday.

Avon 66, Canton 55
At Avon
Canton (55) Andrew Crowley 10-0-22, Mike Pepin 3-0-6, Evan Camporeale 0-0-0, James Rosshirt 2-0-4, Tim Gavin 0-0-0, Nick Quattro 3-1-9, Connor Smyth 5-2-12, Chad Huff 1-0-2. Totals 23-3-55
Avon (66) Eric Stevens 5-1-11, Jack O’Brien 5-3-14, Andrew McGee 7-1-15, Brendan Telfer 3-0-6, Tyler D’Onofrio 0-2-2, Chris Carlson 1-0-2, Robert Carver 6-4-16. Totals 27-11-66.
Halftime: Avon 39-32

Three-point goals: Crowley (C) 2, Quattro (C) 2; O’Brien (A); Records: Avon 2-1, 0-0 NCCC: Canton 1-1, 0-0 NCCC

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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