By Ryan Kaczmarski
On Dec. 21, Bay topped Avon 49-48. On Saturday, the Rockets – helped by an early double-digit lead – came out on top, 49-45.
“This one feels great,” said Rockets head coach Chris Brewer. “We really felt like if we could come out and match Avon’s energy, and even play with more energy, we could get this (game).
“We knew they (Avon) were coming off a huge win,” he added. “We’ve been building some momentum and (we’re) kind of getting our team back together. To play a team that’s that good – and have to play them twice in a season – and get them both times, that’s a great accomplishment for those kids.”
Avon (11-6, 6-4 in the WSC) was coming off a victory over Rocky River last Wednesday night to give the Eagles seven wins in a row, but unlike the game earlier this season, where Bay did not have a lead until the closing seconds of the game, the Rockets never trailed in this one.
“We knew they were going to make a push there at the end and keep coming at us,” Brewer said. “We bent (today), but surely didn’t break.”
Bay (10-9, 8-2 in the WSC) jumped ahead with an early 14-6 lead after the first quarter. The Rockets extended their lead to 32-22 at the half. Avon came out after halftime and started to rally back into the game, closing to within seven points at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Avon’s defense held strong and only let Bay score five points – all by Rockets senior guard Kaleigh Sima – while closing the gap to a single point with 38.8 seconds left in the game.
After a Bay timeout, the Rockets played a little “keep away” and dragged the clock down to 19.6 seconds before Avon had to foul. Bay senior guard Claire Wilson hit three of four foul shots to close the game at 49-45.
“We finally had a game where we knocked down foul shots at a critical time in the fourth quarter, and it won us a game,” Brewer said. “We’ve had a number of games that we feel like we’ve given away at the foul line. If we had the same foul shooting that we had earlier this season, we’d have lost this one too. We knocked them in down the stretch, and held on.”
The victory gives Bay another notch in the bedpost against a tough Division I team going into the Division II state tournament in a couple of weeks.
“It’s great to go in there (the tournament) with that momentum,” Brewer said. “We like to be able to walk in there and say, ‘There’s another Division I win.’
“I think we have a couple of tweaks we need to make offensively (going into the tournament),” he added. “I think we need a little more efficiency on offense. I like where we’re at defensively.”
Sima led the Rockets in scoring with 18 points, followed by Wilson with 13 and junior forward Taylor Seton with eight.
Eagles senior forward Emily Julius led all scoring with 19 points. Senior Natalie Wilden also scored in double digits for Avon with 10 points.