A fourth quarter surge came up a bit short for the Amherst Comets (2-16) Tuesday evening as they fell at home 63-51 to the Avon Lake Shoremen (12-6) in Southwestern Conference play.
Avon Lake big man Barris Coleman led all scorers with 27 points and spelled trouble for Amherst all game despite solid efforts from the Comets’ Johnny Matakovich (12 points), Alec Dimacchia (10 points), and Carter Zajkowski (nine points).
“We need some leaders to step up and bring more energy,” said Dimacchia. “We all just need to try harder.”
Amherst narrowly trailed 17-12 after a quarter but saw that deficit balloon to 25-16 at halftime and 36-21 with 3:57 remaining in the third.
A 17-9 run got the Comets to within seven with 5:40 left in the game, which was sparked by a steal and breakaway layup by Matakovich and a three-pointer from him on the next possession. However, quick ball movement by Avon Lake and a couple of three-pointers from Mark Pappas, who finished with 15 points, sealed the win for the visitors.
“We started boxing out and getting more physical,” said Dimacchia. “Then they got back to doing that and we didn’t box out again. Coach said we gave up 19 second chance points, which shouldn’t happen. We can’t have that.”
Coach Pat Bray said Avon Lake took control of the offensive glass, and in turn, the game.
“We’re not the kind of team that can just come out and do all sorts of stuff,” he said. “Every now and again, though, we can sit down and play some solid defense. We had to keep their big kid off the boards, and we didn’t do that. In the first half we gave up 12 second chance points, and we were trailing by nine. That’s where our deficit is.”
Despite a difficult season, Bray said he’s seen signs of growth from his team.
“We were up by two on North Olmsted with 20 seconds to go and the ball,” he said. “But we didn’t get it. We have winnable games in the future but it’s just a matter of what this team brings. What do they want to do? We’ve got four games left and the effort has to be there every night.”
Next up for the Comets is hosting the North Olmsted Eagles Friday night, who defeated Amherst 55-50 on Jan. 10.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Amherst News-Times Comets guard Jaiden Sledge directs the offense Tuesday night during the team’s 63-51 loss to Avon Lake.