For the first time in the history of Lake Erie Travel Basketball, not one, but two Avon Lake Travel Basketball Association (ALTBA) teams team won the Lake Erie Travel Basketball League (LEBL) Tournament championships.
The Lake Erie league consists of fourth through sixth-grade boys and girls teams from northeast Ohio, including Cloverleaf, Huron, Black River, Medina, Westlake, Bay Village, Brecksville and Amherst.
Jim Crawford’s sixth-grade grade boys team earned a championship as did the Avon Lake Gold, the fifth-grade girls team, coached by Ron Jantz, Amy Lodge and Bob Yurick. The tournament was held Feb. 11-12. This year, 127 teams competed across six divisions.
The Avon Lake Gold team’s win was fitting for its winning season.
“We beat Amherst 24 to 22 in overtime in the championship game,” Jantz said. Amherst went into the championship game as the no. 1 seed, followed by Avon Lake Gold, which finished the LEBL season with an 11-and-2 record.
“(We were) trailing Amherst 16-to-4 at halftime,” Jantz said. “We outscored them 20-to-6 in the second half and overtime to win it. The comeback included a basket by Allie Heschel at the buzzer in regulation to send the game into overtime. It was a classic, a thriller, everything you would want in a championship game.”
Liz Murdock, Livi MacDonald, Kelsey Simmerly, Jamie Coughlin and Lindsay Yurick also added baskets for Avon Lake.
"The key to the game was the Gold’s full court pressure defense in the second half led by Allison Brown, Elle Dils, Sarah Gee and Caroline Jantz as they created numerous turnovers that led to baskets and held Amherst to only three second half scores," Jantz said.
Heschel was named tournament MVP.
Crawford’s team’s win was by a wider margin but equally exciting.
His sixth-grade boys team beat Medina in the LEBL championship game by a score of 54-46.
“Avon Lake lead by only one point at halftime after Medina hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer,” Crawford said.
Avon Lake outscored Medina 30-23 in the second half to clinch the league title. Point guard Jordan Ball contributed 17 points in the game with 14 of them in the second half. Cooper Crawford lead all scorers with 23 points, a number of blocked shots and steals and received the tournament’s MVP award. Also contributing offensively were Andrew Butrey (9), Nick Vittardi (3) and Austin Baraona (2).
“But it was the defense in the second half by Carter Chippi, Brandon Riley and Austin Baraona which enabled Avon Lake to stop a very tough and big Medina team.”
The team’s overall record is currently 23-4 with three tournaments remaining in their season.
Avon Lake fourth-grade boys team placed second in the tournament.
AVON LAKE RESULTS
6th Grade Boys “A” division- Champions: Jordan Ball, Austin Baraona, Andrew Butrey, Carter Chippi, Cooper Crawford, Michael Petrus, Brandon Riley, Jake Sommers, Evan Taylor, Nick Vittardi, Coaches: Jim Crawford, Paul Butrey and Pat Taylor
5th Grade Girls division- Champions: Allison Brown, Jamie Coaghlin, Elle Dils, Sarah Gee, Allie Heschel, Caroline Jantz, Olivia MacDonald, Elizabeth Murdock, Kelsey Simmerly, Lindsay Yurick. Coaches: Ron Jantz, Bob Yurick, Amy Lodge
4th Grade Boys division – second place: Creed Bolognia, Spencer Chippi, Mason Daum, Matthew Kovacs, Jacob Nardi, Cristian Perry, Ryan Romanini, Tanner Russell, Ryan Shinko, Ryan Smith. Coaches: Todd Russell, Matt Perry, Mike Kovacs