By Amy Rutledge
The North Olmsted Eagles weren’t able to hold on to an early lead, and lost to the Avon Lake Shoremen 63-42.
“I thought we came out with a lot of energy,” said Eagles head coach Joe Smith. “When Avon Lake responded to our run and took the lead mentally we never got out approach back to where we wanted it. They came out with a lot of fire and were defending us really well. The shots didn’t fall for us because mentally we weren’t into the game on the defensive end of the floor.”
It was a different game the first quarter as the Eagles jumped out to an early lead with a five-point run. Avon Lake slowly closed in on the lead, but North Olmsted was able to maintain control until the final 40 seconds. A basket by Eric Stuczynski gave the Shoremen a 14-13 lead. With two seconds remaining Stuczynski was able to sink a 3-pointer swinging the momentum towards Avon Lake. It was an uphill battle for the Eagles after that.
Back-to-back shots in the second quarter by Khaled Oudeh and Darvin Freeman brought the Eagles within three points, but that was as close as North Olmsted would get to the lead.
Trouble struck the Eagles prior to the game as they were down their big post-players William Lucien, who suffered a concussion right before the game. Lucien played only the first few minutes of the first quarter before sitting out.
“It was a freak accident,” said Smith. “He was getting dressed and someone bumped him and he hit his head on the wall. We started running around out here and he was getting dizzy and seeing stars. He came off during a time out and said he couldn’t see. The trainer said he couldn’t go back in. He takes up a ton of space on the floor at both ends.
“He had three or four offensive rebounds in the limited time he played tonight,” Smith added.
The second half proved to be just as ugly as the first as the Shoremen opened the third quarter with a nine-point run. The Eagles were held to five points in the third quarter, with scoring opportunities coming only from foul shots and a single basket by Oudeh.
The Eagles failed to get any momentum going, and by the fourth quarter it was too late. The Shoremen had a 21-point lead going into the final eight minutes and while that might make some teams let up, Avon Lake’s effort grew stronger.
“I told them I wasn’t happy with their approach once Avon Lake came back,” Smith said. “We needed to get back to the way we started the game. We let our frustration get the best of us.”
Darvin Freeman led the Eagles with 17 points. Khaled Oudeh added eight and Marc Remy had five. Patrick Moran and William Lucien each had four while Sean Needles and Patrick Needs had two each.
North Olmsted (7-11 overall) will play Strongsville Monday night. The winner of that game will go on to play Brecksville.
“Strongsville is a good team and is well coached,” Smith said. “If we play like this it doesn’t matter who we play we won’t have success.”