Thunder outlast Devils
Mark Pinson | Highlands TodayAVON PARK - Lake Region used a balanced offense and a relentless full-court press to knock off Avon Park by a score of 70-65 in boys basketball on Tuesday night.
Published: November 22, 2012
Published: November 22, 2012
The Thunder placed four players in double figures and their tenacious press forced the Red Devils into 25 turnovers in the regular season opener for both teams.
"We struggled with Lake Region's press because of their length and quickness," said first-year Avon Park coach Marty O'Hora. "We made some adjustments at halftime and did a much better job of breaking it and got some easy baskets.
"We made a lot of mistakes and had a bunch of mental errors, but I liked the way we competed and didn't quit even though we fell behind by a bunch."
Avon Park started strong and took a 4-0 lead three minutes into the first quarter, but Lake Region found the range from the outside as Walter Covington scored eight of his 12 points and Jermane Roper added four points as the Thunder roared out to a 20-11 lead heading into the second period.
Avon Park stormed back as Tyrone Perry scored seven points, including a 3-pointer from the right baseline to tie the score at 22 with 4:14 remaining in the first half.
Lake Region's full-court press began to take its toll as careless Red Devil passes were intercepted and turned into easy baskets, and James Jackson nailed a 3-pointer to give the Thunder a 36-26 lead at the half.
"We just didn't execute like we're supposed to against their press," O'Hora said. "We got sloppy with the ball and tried to dribble against the press instead of passing the ball to the weak side and getting down the floor for easy baskets."
Avon Park made a couple of runs in the third quarter, but each was answered with a Lake Region scoring burst.
Jackson, who finished with 13 points, drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Thunder a commanding 49-30 lead with 2:56 remaining in the third period.
Lake Region's Obi IIanza scored six of his 13 points and Jalen Birdsong added six of his 11 points as the Thunder took a 56-43 lead into the final eight minutes.
Avon Park mounted one last rally as Gus Owens scored six of his game-high 19 points and Brown drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull the Red Devils within 67-63 with 28.3 seconds left in the game.
Avon Park, which utilized its own effective full-court press in the final quarter, was forced to foul and Jackson calmly swished both free throws to increase the Lake Region lead to six points.
The Red Devils were able to score, but time ran out on their comeback as the Thunder made one of two free throws to seal their hard-fought victory.
"I'm real proud of how we came back in the second half," O'Hora said. "Lake Region did us a favor by staying in their press late in the game because it allowed us to get some easy baskets.
"Our press was pretty effective and I know our guys were tired, but they played with a lot of effort until the end of the game."
Avon Park is off for Thanksgiving break and the Red Devils are back in action with a game at Frostproof on Tuesday night.
"We're still getting our football guys in basketball shape and we're looking at different lineups," O'Hora said. "We have a good group of guys and we're going to keep working hard to improve.
"We want to be peaking and playing our best basketball in February."
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