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Berea Downs Avon Lake To End Shoremen's Historic Season

Braves take advantage of Shoremen's weakness at the free throw line.

The Shoremen had a week to think about the bad taste Brecksville left in their mouths during their prior to playoffs. It was something players said after that they didn't want to experience again for a long time.

But sometimes a week's layoff can let the rust show. Playing a team you are familiar with, a team you had already beaten twice during the regular season, is a tedious task in itself when they know all your tendencies. That was the story March 4, as boys basketball team fell to Berea to end the Shoremen’s season.

For a quarter, at least the first four minutes, it seemed as if that bad taste had been erased.

Ronnie Willougby, who had a game high 20 points on the night, put the Shoremen on the board first at the 6:48 mark after a nice drive to the basket and an off balance jumper by Eric Stuczynski at the 5:30 mark made it 4-0.  By the 5:10 mark Avon Lake had jumped out to a 6-0 lead.

Berea utilized an outside shot, in which they shot nearly 50 percent on the night, and was able to muster back in the game, leaving the Shoremen with just a 16-11 lead after a quarter.

Colin Holmes extended that lead to 19-11 following a basket and a free throw in the second quarter, but Berea countered with nine different players find the basket in the first half. Avon Lake's woes from the free-throw line seemed to carry over from its last game, and by halftime, the Shoremen’s lead was whittled leaving them with a 31-30 lead.

In the end, although Avon Lake gave a gallant effort, the third time proved to be a charm for the Braves, as the No. 1 seeded Shoremen (19-2) fell to Berea 67-58 in the Division I Sectional final.

The difference in the game came via the free throw line, where the Shoremen could convert just 10 of 24 on the night. But turnovers also came into play, as they handed the ball over an unusual 17 times.

The biggest difference though proved to the third quarter, as Berea was able to hold the Shoremen scoreless nearly the final four minutes as they jumped out to a 46-42 lead.

Avon Lake managed to cut Berea's lead to just one late in the fourth quarter after a nice basket by Stuczynski, who had 12 on the night, but the Braves held a 62-58 lead with 1:06 left to play.

Stuczynski seemed ready to cut it to two after he was fouled, but his free throw missed its mark. Although Avon Lake's defense forced two turnovers in the final minute, they couldn't convert and the Shormen were forced to foul the Braves the rest of the way.

Brandon Murway added nine points for the Shoremen as did Holmes, while Dan Reichlin four.

Had Avon Lake won, the Shoremen would have met Brunswick on Wednesday March 9 in the district semifinals, a game many had pegged as the one to watch in District play. Still despite the loss, the Shoremen accomplished a lot this year, including a historic 19-game win streak.

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