AVON, December 22 – Less than nine months ago, the Avon High boys basketball team was on the floor of the Mohegan Sun Arena playing for the CIAC Division III championship against Waterford.
The five players that started for the Falcons in that championship game graduated in June.
It’s a new crew on the floor for Avon this winter. And the Falcons have started off well by winning two of their first three games including a 40-33 win over Northwest Catholic on Friday night and a 64-51 win over Rockville in a non-conference victory Saturday afternoon less than 18 hours after beating the Lions.
Sophomore Jack Hall had a game-high 13 points in the win over Northwest Catholic on Friday. Against Rockville, Hall had a career-high 24 points including three 3-point goals to lead the Falcons (2-1, 1-1 CCC West). Ryan McGuire had a career-high 15 points on Saturday against the Rams.
“We have a young squad with a lot of young players on the varsity with little varsity experience,” Avon High coach Kris Pedra said.
Senior Ryan Barkiewicz is the only player in the starting lineup who is a senior. He is joined by a pair of juniors — McGuire and Thomas Howard — and two sophomores – Hall and Will Soucier.
Avon isn’t very big either. Hall is 6-foot-1 with Marek Cierniewski coming off the bench at 6-foot-2.
“We’ve talked about it all year long that our size is a problem,” Pedra said. “So, we’re going to have to do it all together. Rebound together. Everyone has to buy in defensively for us to have a chance.”
Against Rockville, Avon got several steals in the waning minutes of the second quarter to grab a nine-point halftime lead, 35-26.
The visiting Rams cut the lead to six points with 2:13 left in the third quarter, 43-37, thanks to an 8-3 run. But Avon responded with six unanswered points off three Rockville turnovers to extend the lead to 12 points after three quarters, 49-37.
Rockville (1-3) cut the lead to eight points with 1:52 remaining in the game, 56-48 on a three-point shot. But Avon went 6-for-6 on the foul line in the next minute to pull away.
Avon got a more balanced effort against Rockville, led by Hall (24) and McGuire (15). Howard and Barkiewicz each had six points while Cierniewski added five.
The Falcons limited Northwest Catholic to just 33 points to earn their second win in six game against the Lions since joining the Central Connecticut Conference.
“To hold Northwest Catholic to 33 points, you’ve got to be doing something right,” Pedra said. “It was a good defensive effort. Offense didn’t win that game – defense did.”
Pedra said the team doesn’t have any big goals – although they are six wins shy of earning another state tournament berth.
“It’s just one game at a time,” he said. “We have such a young bunch that we’re setting huge goals. We’re setting small goals to achieve in practice and in games. It’s game by game for us.”
Avon returns to action on January 5 when they host Bristol Eastern at 1 p.m. followed by a game against Simsbury on Monday, January 7 in Avon.
Other big rivalry games are January 18 when Avon travels to Farmington, Friday, February 8 when Avon travels to Simsbury and Saturday, February 9, when Avon renews their long rivalry with Canton at 1 p.m. on the road. Avon closes out the regular season on February 19 at Farmington.
Avon 64, Rockville 51
Rockville (51) Javon Nelson 1-0-2, Alex Deane 3-3-10, Zac Condon 1-0-3, Cain Bogli 1-0-3, Justin Collins 6-6-11, Andrew Main 1-0-3, Austin Tracy 1-0-3, Nolan Sturo 2-3-9. Totals 16-12
Avon (64) Thomas Howard 3-0-6, Ryan McGuire 3-8-15, Ryan Barkiewicz 3-0-6, Jack Hall 8-5-24, Marek Cierniewski 2-1-5, Will Socier 1-2-4, Michael Messina 0-0-0, Tyler LeBrun 0-0-0, Tyler Brackenshoe 0-0-0, Paul Waueru 1-0-2, Romi Eldah 1-0-2, Jarish Moza 0-0-0, David D’Errico 0-0-0. Totals 20-16
Rockville (1-3) 14 12 14 14 — 51
Avon (2-1) 19 16 14 15 — 64
Three-point goals: Deane (Ro), Condon (Ro), Bogli (Ro), Main (Ro), Tracy (Ro), Sturo (Ro) 2; McGuire (A), Hall (A) 3
Avon 40, Northwest Catholic 33
Northwest Catholic (33) Landell Green 1 2 4, Matthew Curtis 2 1 5, Guy Ragland Jr. 3 7 13, Nicholas Gomeau 3 2 9, Jonah Obi 1 0 2. Totals 10 12 33.
Avon (40) Thomas Howard 4 0 8, Ryan McGuire 3 2 10, Jack Hall 4 1 13, Will Soucier 2 0 6, Tyler LeBrun 1 0 3. Totals 14 3 40.
N.W. Catholic (1-2) 8 7 10 8 — 33
Avon (1-1) 9 16 11 4 — 40
Three-point goals: Gomeau (N), McGuire (A) 2, Hall (A) 4, Soucier (A) 2, LeBrun (A)