AVON LAKE — Sometimes the difference between winning and losing simply comes down to making shots.
Seventh-seeded Avon Lake just missed too many shots in the paint and free throws in crunch time Wednesday in a 57-52 loss to Westlake in a Division I sectional opener.
The 10th-seeded Demons (10-13) advance to face second-seeded Olmsted Falls on Saturday. The Shoremen finish an up-and-down season at 11-12.
“When we make our layups we’re really good. We missed a lot of shots that we should have made tonight,” Avon Lake coach Eric Smith said. “I have no qualm with our effort — we played hard the entire game — but we got good looks at the basket but just couldn’t make enough shots.”
Avon Lake did make some shots, taking its largest lead of the night at 36-29 with 3:34 left in the third, getting four points from Cole Schraff, three each from Nick Marsh and Tanner Russell and a bucket from Creed Bolognia.
Marsh and Russell paced Avon Lake with each scoring a game-high 17 points. Russell had the only 3-pointer for the Shoremen, who went 1-for-14 from long range.
“I think Tanner (Russell) and Nick (Marsh) were both tremendous,” Smith said. “Tanner was probably the best player on the floor tonight. I thought Hunter Simons, Nate Sidloski and Cole Schraff all gave us great efforts. That’s who these guys have been all year long.”
Just when it looked like Avon Lake might take a lead to the final quarter, the Demons got a pair of 3-pointers from Jacob May (12 points) and a buzzer-beating layin from Anthony Rego (17 points) to go up 40-39.
Marsh scored to start the fourth for a 41-40 lead, but the Shoremen went more than five minutes without a field goal as Westlake took a 51-43 lead on a Joey Geagea (11 points) tip-in with less than three minutes left.
A pair of driving buckets by Russell and one from Marsh cut the Westlake lead to 53-50, but the Shoremen didn’t get any closer, hitting just two of six free throws in the final 54 seconds while Westlake hit six of 10 to preserve the win.
“They (Avon Lake) pressed us and we lost it a lot (18 turnovers), but we’ve gained maturity during the year,” Demons coach Freeman Blade said. “We would have lost this game had it been the first half of the season.”
Westlake 57, Avon Lake 52
WESTLAKE (57): Matt Sarsam 0-0-0, Charlie Zkiab 0-0-0, Jacob May 3-3-12, Anthony Rego 6-5-17, Joey Geagea 5-1-11, Justin Garcia 2-1-7, Joseph Klessel 0-0-0, Dylan Bednar 3-4-10. Totals 19-14-57.
AVON LAKE (52): Nick Marsh 5-7-17, Cristian Perry 0-0-0, Tanner Russell 7-2-17, Cole Schraff 3-0-6, Nate Sidloski 0-1-1, Creed Bolognia 1-0-2, Hunter Simons 3-3-9, Nate Murtaugh 0-0-0. Totals 19-13-52.
Westlake 17 6 17 17 — 57
Avon Lake 11 13 15 13 — 52
Three-point goals: Westlake 5-10 (May 3, Garcia 2), Avon Lake 1-14 (Russell). Field goals: Westlake 19-49 (39 percent), Avon Lake 19-48 (40 percent). Free throws: Westlake 14-25 (56 percent), Avon Lake 13-22 (59 percent). Rebounds: Westlake 38, Avon Lake 21. Turnovers: Westlake 18, Avon Lake 8. Fouled out: Geagea, Bednar