Times Sports Editor
AVON -- Perhaps you can excuse Northview and Avon's basketball teams if Saturday's game in the Orioles' nest lacked a little bit of 'oomph.'
Both teams were coming off important conference games on Friday night and there isn't much of a natural rivalry between the schools. Avon had lost a tough game against defending state champion Brownsburg, 43-41, the evening before and the Knights had come out on top in a knock down, drag out WIC game with Edgewood.
One night later, the deep and talented Orioles jumped out front on the Knights and were able to hold off a late rally before pulling away for a 77-56 victory.
On paper, the Knights were a big underdog to a team that goes 10-deep and features talent and size up and down the roster. However, Northview wouldn't go quietly, stringing together an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter to get within 59-52. However, the run seemed to sap the last bit of gas from the Knights' tank as Avon finished the game on an 18-4 spurt for the final margin.
"(Avon) is a team you need a whole week to prepare for and we didn't. We prepared for Edgewood and talked about these guys for a little bit," Northview coach Ernie Maesch said. "(Avon has) got a lot more horses, they're 10-deep and they're hard to guard," Maesch commented. "They pose some problems because their 6'5 and 6'7 kids can shoot the 3-point shot and they can all get to the rack. I think their whole starting five can make a 3-pointer. So they wear on you on how you have to guard them."
From the opening tip it was apparent that Avon's athleticism was going to give the Knights some problems on both ends of the court.
The Orioles assigned 5'10 senior Desmond Thomas to chase the Knights' top scorer, Austin Akers, everywhere he went. In the opening quarter, Thomas was able to hold Akers to just a pair of free throws.
The Knights were able to make some adjustments heading into the second quarter and started hitting some of their own shots.
Jacob Musgrave scored seven of his nine points in the first half, Akers knocked down a 3-pointer and sophomore Trent Lancaster took some of the load off his teammate by adding nine of his 19 points before break.
Avon was able to keep the lead in double-digits in the third quarter before the Knights got a 3-pointer from Lancaster and a drive to the hoop by Akers to get within 49-39. But the Orioles kept answering as JaJuan Sarver flashed to the hoop for a score and was fouled for the three-point play. The Knights came back with a hoop from forward Jonathan Bradshaw, but Avon's Kendall Griffin ended the period with a 3-pointer of his own.
The Orioles kept the pressure on in the early part of the fourth quarter as Sarver capped a 7-0 Avon run with two free throws on his way to a game-high 24 points.
Avon had its biggest lead of the game at 59-41, but Akers and Lancaster took over to keep the Knights' in the game.
Akers started the run with a pair of free throws and a jumper before Lancaster got to the line for two points. Akers got free to hit a 3-pointer and then scored on a runner after an Avon turnover to clip the lead to seven at 59-52.
"This is the type of game Trent (Lancaster) can excel in," Maesch said. "He can really get up and down the court."
But as Maesch mentioned earlier, the Orioles had too many horses.
Mikell, who had scored just four points in the middle two quarters after a nine-point first quarter, re-ignited for a quick six points around a Sarver jumper. Clint Reynolds hit a jumper for the Knights, but the Orioles had put the game away at 67-54 late.
The reserves finished the game for both squads during the final couple of minutes. Avon got seven late points from senior Doug Poland to extend the lead.
"When we do things correctly we can compete with most teams on our schedule," Maesch remarked. "Can we compete with them for 32 minutes? That's the question that I don't know yet."
The Avon junior varsity team won in a lopsided 54-19 score and the Orioles' freshmen team rallied to get a 30-28 win despite 12 points from the Knights' Dillon Reynolds.
Zach Hull added 10 points, Bryant Pestoff had four and Brock Wheeler had two.
The Knights are off until Friday when they tip-off Wabash Valley Classic Tourney play at 1 p.m. against Monrovia at Terre Haute South High School.
Akers 6-13 4-4 18, Lancaster 7-10 3-4 19, Reynolds 1-3 0-0 2, Bradshaw 3-3 0-2 6, Musgrave 4-6 1-2 9, Mershon 0-1 0-0 0, Keller 0-1 0-0 0, Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Sims 0-0 0-0 0, Robertson 1-2 0-0 2, Allen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-39 8-12 56.
Sarver 9-12 6-8 24, Griffin 5-15 0-1 12, Burgett 2-5 0-1 4, Thomas 3-5 1-2 7, Blackmon 1-2 0-0 0, Mikell 8-12 3-4 21, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Childs 0-0 0-0 0, Poland 2-2 3-3 7, Riley 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 30-55 13-18 77.
3-point fieldgoals -- Nv 4-9 (Akers 2-5, Reynolds 0-2, Lancaster 2-2), Av 4-13 (Griffin 2-6, Mikell 2-4, Burgett 0-1, Thomas 0-1, Sarver 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Nv 22 (Bradshaw 4), Av 22 (Burgett 7). Total Fouls -- Nv 17, Av 17. Turnovers -- Nv 16, Av 9.