Avon outlasts Enfield in 3OTs in NCCC Tourney thriller
GRANBY - Avon has now beaten Enfield three times this season and they'll be talking about win number three for a long, long time.
The Falcons got some clutch foul shooting down the stretch and had four players in double figures led by Patrick McKearney with 23 points in an 81-73 triple overtime
victory over the Raiders in the NCCC Tournament semifinals on Wednesday night.
Avon gets right back at it for the title as Granby defeated Coventry, 67-62, in the other semifinal and hosts Avon in the NCCC title game Thursday night.
Enfield (18-4) is seeded sixth in Class M and opens the state tournament on Monday night at home against No. 27 Wilcox Tech.
The final between the Falcons and the Bears will have to be some kind of game for it to be remembered over the show Avon and Enfield put on in the semis. The game
featured plenty of momentum swings, big shots and clutch defensive plays with the Falcons finally able to separate themselves in the third OT.
It's hard to beat a team three times in a season, then factor in that the team is a conference rival and a really good team and it becomes even harder. The Falcons expected a tough game and got one, despite the previous results. Avon won first meeting 56-33 on Jan. 24, giving Enfield its first loss of the season. The Falcons then won the rematch 57-41 in Avon on Feb. 12.
On Wednesday it was apparent in the first quarter that this was going to be no blowout. The Falcons were bigger inside but the Raiders made up for that by being aggressive on the boards despite being undersized and by hitting 10 3-pointers, including five by Paul Lima and four from Sal Spadaro.
"Enfield's won this thing three times in a row, they are tournament tested, had experience coming back, we knew we were in for a tough game," Avon coach Chris Vozzolo said. "They have a great program and great players and both teams put on a great show. It was a great atmosphere and game to be a part of."
Spadaro forced the third overtime with a clutch three just before the horn. Ryan Marioni (21 points) made one of two free throws to give the Falcons a 71-68 lead with 34 seconds left. Avon extended its defense and looked like it was going to escape with the win but Spadaro found just enought room to get off a long three and drilled it to end the second OT.
In the third overtime McKearney out the Falcons ahead to stay. He hit a free throw to make it 72-72 with 3:38 to go and after Brandon Feinberg (16 points) came up with a big block on the defenisve end, McKearney made a nice cut and took a pass from Marioni for a layup to make it 74-71. Marioni added three free throws in the final minute and Sean Herrmann made all four of his free throws in the final 27 seconds to ice the win.
"I like how we hung in there and executed down the stretch and how we made our free throws," Vozzolo said. "This game hopefully will help us out down the road. We had to do a lot of good things down the stretch and we were definitely tested."
Herrmann made five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points for Avon.
Avon is the sixth seed in Class L and opens with a visit from rival Farmington (9-11) on Tuesday. The Falcons and the 27th-seeded Indians split a pair of regular
season meetings with Avon winning the second meeting, 50-31, on Jan. 26 in Avon.
"That should be nuts," Feinberg said. "Two rivals, state tournament, should be a great game."
Avon (81) - Ryan Marioni 5 11-16 21; Sean Herrmann 5 4-4 19; Brandon Feinberg 6 4-5 16; Patrick McKearney 7 9-11 23; Justin Reichler 1 0-0 2. Totals 24 28-36 81
3-pointers: Herrmann (5).
Enfield (73) - Tom Meskell 3 0-0 7; Sal Spadaro 6 0-0 16; Mike Crowley 1 1-2 3; Josh Gaines 1 0-0 2; Paul Lima 7 0-1 19; Kevin Camidge 5 4-7 14; Alex Gould 1 0-0 2; Ra Preston 4 2-2 10. Totals: 28 7-12 73.