BOYS BASKETBALL: Avon strategy on the money; Southington suffers second loss in three games

BOYS BASKETBALL: Avon strategy on the money; Southington suffers second loss in three games

SOUTHINGTON — Avon’s game plan Monday night was simple: Take Jared Kelly and Jake Napoli out of the Southington boys basketball offense.

Once the Falcons started executing coach Kris Pedra’s plan, it was the beginning of the end for the Blue Knights.

Kelly and Napoli finished the night by scoring all but five of the Blue Knights’ points, but their biggest contributions came early in a 52-38 CCC West crossover loss to Avon. The senior duo combined for 33 points, but for only nine in the game’s final 13½ minutes.

The pair scored all but two of the Blue Knights’ first-quarter points as Southington raced out to a 16-8 lead. Southington, however, scored just four points — all by Kelly and Napoli — in the second quarter while Avon racked up 17 to take the lead for good with two minutes to play in the half.

“Tonight was a learning experience,” said Napoli, who led Southington with 17 points. “We have to step up our game.

“There was a point in the game there in the second quarter when they started hitting all their shots and we started missing a lot of shots,” Napoli added. “That was the turning point in the game.”

It was Southington’s second loss in three outings after opening the season with five straight wins. Southington and Avon are now both 6-2.

Kelly finished with 16 points. Aeden Derrick and Dylan Olsen (3 points) each made a field goal for Southington’s other five points.

Avon was led guard Jack Hall, who spearheaded the Falcons' second-quarter run and finished with 17 points.

“This was a big one for us. (Southington) is off to a great start,” Pedra said. “We game-planned hard for this one and the boys delivered.

“We were taking away 10 (Kelly) and 20 (Napoli),” Pedra added. “Our key was to take away them and play one-on-one in the post. We were willing to play one-on-one in the post and take away the shooters.”

Avon was unable to contain either Napoli or Kelly over the first eight minutes. Napoli had eight points in the first quarter, while Kelly hit two 3-pointers to finish the frame with six points.

Hall, however, scored seven of Avon’s second-quarter points. The lanky junior, who is averaging nearly 25 points a game, dropped off a perfect pass Will Saucier for a layup that gave Avon the lead for good, 21-20, with 2:35 to play in the first half

Hall’s driving layup with 1:45 to play in the half, following by a spinning jumper in the lane at 1:11, gave the Falcons a 25-20 lead at the break.

The Blue Knights got within a point, 27-26, on back-to-back 3-pointers by Kelly to start the second half, but turnovers on four straight possessions midway through the third quarter allowed Avon to regain control 36-28 with 2:27 left in the period.

Avon led 41-32 entering the final quarter and Southington got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.

“We stopped handling the ball and, unfortunately, them switching to man-to-man defense made us uncomfortable,” Southington coach John Cessario said. “They have a solid player in Hall, who basically stepped up his game.“

Hall scored 13 of his points in the second and third quarters when the Falcons took control of the game.

“The game flip-flopped when it was tight after one quarter,” Cessario said. ”The ball was just getting slapped out of our hands. But it was everyone; everyone struggled.

“We paid the price. They were aggressive. The end result is the end result.”

Southington’s last lead was 20-19 with 3:14 to play in the second quarter. The Blue Knights didn’t make a shot the rest of the first half, missing their final five shots of the frame.