AVON -- Not with a dagger, but a drought, the Darien dream season finally comes to a close.
No. 10 Avon bested No. 26 Darien 52-42 Monday night, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Class L tournament and ending the Blue Wave's year.
The Falcons (17-5) overcame a third quarter deficit with a late 22-6 run, spurred on by Nathan Laszewski, who finished with a team-high 16 points. Over that same span, Darien (11-11) endured a scoreless stretch lasting 5:55 to effectively seal its fate.
"We definitely rebounded in that third quarter, and I thought that kept fueling the run," Avon coach Chris Vozzolo said. "It got us a couple early ones in transition and that defensive rebounding was real important today."
Playing in its first state tournament since 1990, the Blue Wave posted only 17 points in the second half, three shy of its first quarter total. After intermission, the Falcons switched to a 2-3 zone, denying quality shot opportunities from the outside.
"We just got out of what we wanted to do offensively," Darien coach Kyle Marian said. "They just sat in that zone and it's something that we've struggled with all year."
Senior Blue Wave guard Matt Staubi collected a game-high 18 points, but only four came following halftime.
"We knew about Matt," Vozzolo said. "We knew he was a gamer, he was going to come after us and he was the heart and soul of that team. You know, we weren't going to come out here and say we're going to stop Matt Staubi. We want to contain him."
Making a concerted effort to feed 6-foot-10 center Chima Azuonwu in the early going, Darien raced out to a 14-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. With the Avon defense collapsing inside, four different Blue Wave players scored including Staubi, Azuonwu and forwards George Phillips and Ames Murray.
The Falcons battled back immediately with a pair of 3s in the opening minute of the second frame. Minutes later, Azuonwu picked up his second foul, which sent him to the bench for the remainder of the half. In his stead, Staubi hoisted 10 of Darien's 13 total shots in the frame. Simultaneously, Avon trimmed its deficit to a manageable six points.
From there, the Falcons pounded the interior and continued to garner fouls against Azuonwu. Justin Reichler gave Avon its first lead with under four minutes left in the third quarter, and then had a hand in getting the Darien big man to foul out at 4:15 remaining in the game. Senior forward Pat McKearney added 15 points for Avon, the majority of which came during its game-clinching run.
However, instead of a loss, Darien intends to view the game as tremendous progress for a team that won a combined 10 games over the past three seasons.
"I can't let this overshadow what we've accomplished. All that we've been through, what this program has been through, what some of these guys have been through," Marian said. "In 10 years, in 15 years, that's the stuff you hold dear. Not that we lost a game tonight.Read Full Article
"We can compete. This town can compete. We just need kids to buy in. Sometimes in life you've got to allow yourself to just go with something and see where it takes you and you'll be amazed."
Avon 52, Darien 42
Chima Azuonwu 2 4-8 8 Ames Murray 4 0-0 8 Bobby Fitzpatrick 1 1-3 3 Alex Preston 0 0-0 0 Matt Staubi 7 3-4 18 Hudson Hamill 0 0-0 0 George Phillips 2 1-3 5. Totals: 16 9-18 71.
Dan Reagan 0 0-0 0 John Burdick 2 2-3 7 Jordan Levine 0 0-0 0 Brad Fisher 1 0-0 2 Jared Rosenblatt 0 0-0 0 Sean Hermann 2 0-0 6 Alex Zacchio 0 0-0 0 Patrick McKearney 5 5-6 15 Jacob Sartain 0 1-2 1 Zach Stirling 0 0-0 0 Anthony Agli 0 0-0 0 Matt Reagan 0 0-0 0 Justin Reichler 3 1-8 7 Nathan Laszewski 4 6-8 16
Totals: 17 15-26 52.
DARIEN 14 11 8 9--42
AVON 4 15 18 15--52
3-pointers: D--Staubi; A--Laszewski 2, Herrmann 2, Burdick