By Jake Thompson
DANVILLE — In a battle between two unbeaten teams early on in the boys’ basketball season, something had to give between Avon and Danville last night.
The contest came down to the final minute of play and the Warriors had not led all game, but all of that changed as Scott Amor’s play down the stretch propelled the Warriors to an exciting 51-48 victory over the visiting Orioles.
“Scott definitely dominated that minute to minute and a half right there,” Danville coach Brian Barber said. “He took the game over and did it on offense, defense, taking the ball out of bounds and calling the play out. He has done a super job for us… you can’t have enough Scott Amor’s.”
Trailing 45-40 with just over a minute remaining, Amor drove to the right baseline around an Avon defender and underhanded an arching layup to pull the Warriors within three.
As Avon brought the ball up the court, Amor created a steal and passes it to a streaking Shawn Weir who was fouled going up for the basket. Weir converted his two free throws and Danville trailed, 45-44.
Danville then got the ball back and Ian Asher dropped in a floater from the left baseline and the Warriors claimed their first lead of the game with 41 seconds remaining.
Another Avon turnover led to an Amor 3-pointer from the left corner with 17 seconds left and Danville grabbed a one-point advantage.
Avon’s Aaron Bode took a pass with under 10 seconds remaining and drove strong to the hoop but the ball caromed off his knee and out of bounds giving Danville the ball back with 3.8 on the clock. Avon’s Sam Bloom fouled Asher, who then hit a free throw putting Danville up for good, 51-48.
Avon was unable to get the ball on target in the last seconds and pandemonium ensued on the court as fans rushed over and lifted Amor up in the air for his last minute heroics.
Danville’s defense gave Avon fits all night and forced 24 turnovers. The Warriors played with a deep bench and kept their players fresh and rested before sending them out to press the Orioles.
Avon dealt with the pressure pretty well for most of the game, but had trouble down the stretch finding a solid ball handler.
“I don’t think either team played real well… but you have to give credit to the Danville kids for stepping up,” Avon coach Jason Young said. “We are not going to beat anybody any good with that many turnovers and Danville is a good basketball team.”
Avon controlled the game from the start, but both teams shot poorly in the first half as the Orioles went 8 of 25 from the field and Danville was a paltry 5 of 28.
Avon led 23-19 at the break.
Danville surged out of the gate in the third and tied it up at 26, but Avon answered with a 9-0 run and threatened to break the game wide open and Danville opted for a timeout.
According to Barber, it was his leaders that calmed and refocused the team during the timeout.
“It wasn’t so much what I told them,” he said. “Avery (Motes) and Ian were doing a lot of talking saying ‘We’re OK, it’s now time for us to get a run.’ Our seniors stepped up and kept everyone calm and under control. We didn’t panic.”
From there the Warriors steadily and methodically worked back into the game and utilized its defense to force turnover and convert them into points.
The strategy paid off as Avon looked more and more rattled and Danville became increasingly more confident.
Motes led the Warriors with 12 points and Amor chipped in 11, eight in the fourth quarter.
Carter VanWanzeele led the Orioles with 17.