Aurora -- A devastating third quarter and a pesky 1-3-1 zone defense dashed any hopes of an upset win over Chagrin Falls by the improving Aurora High boys basketball team.
The Greenmen were crushed by a 22-3 third quarter blitz, as the Tigers busted open a tight Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division game to post a 49-35 victory Dec. 14.
Head coach Jim Wallish saw his club fall to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the Chagrin, while Chagrin moved to 3-1 overall and 1-1.
The Greenmen trailed 16-8 after the first eight minutes, outscored the visitors 14-9 in the second stanza to cut it to 25-22 at the half.
Wallish was pleased with his team's defense and overall play, but the third quarter saw the Tigers use its pesky 1-3-1 half court defense. It stifled Aurora, which could not recover.
Chagrin, with most of its rotation in the 6-foot-1 to 6-5 range, was too active and long on defense. The Tigers were consistently altering shots and passes, tipping the ball and forcing turnovers.
"We just came out flat in the third and that zone defense gave us all kinds of trouble," pointed out Wallish.
"I think Chagrin gave us problems with its length, getting in the passing lanes and disrupting things," he added. "We played extremely well in the first half, but we had some lazy passes and had a rough stretch."
The Greenmen held Chagrin to a season low 2 points in the fourth period, but it was too little, too late.
Junior guard Joe Dinardo led the Greenmen with 9 points and senior guard Paul Kollat had 8. Chagrin was led by Sawyer McGuire, who poured in 21 points, including four bombs from 3-point range.
Pavel Galchenko, a junior post, chipped in three buckets for 6 points for AHS, while sophomore post Kyle Fayne had 4 points. Chipping in a hoop each were seniors Drew Daff and Joe Roberto, junior Michael Durkin and sophomore Parker Blunt.
MEANWHILE, Aurora surpassed its win total for all of last year with an impressive 62-34 non-league home victory over Berkshire (0-4) on Dec. 12.
Strong team defense made its mark as Aurora's defense had a season-low 16 points allowed in the first half.
"We played extremely well on the defensive end, and we created easy offense with our defense," said Wallish. "We forced some turnovers with strong defensive work by everyone."
Junior guard Nick Ely led the charge with 9 points, followed by Galchenko and Durkin with 8 each.
Fayne chipped in 7 points, senior forward Scott Adsit and senior forward Anthony Quaranto each popped in 6 points, while Kollat had 5, Dinardo 4, Blunt 3 and Daff, Roberto and senior Anthony Rinicella 2 each.
"We had good offensive balance and have all year as our kids are pretty equal," said the mentor. "I'm not afraid to use anyone."
On Dec. 10, Aurora had a tough 69-63 non-league loss to Western Reserve Academy of Hudson at home.
The Greenmen had trouble containing WRA's Peter Barba, who had 23 points, 11 rebounds, dished out five assists and had five steals.
The 6-foot-5 guard is a college prospect. The list of schools looking at him include Dartmouth, Colgate, Cornell, Bucknell, Kent State, Navy, Amherst (MA), Penn State, Holy Cross, Yale, and Miami of Ohio.
Kollat and Dinardo paced the Greenmen with 14 points each, while Galchenko added 11 and Blunt had 9, Durkin 7 points, Quaranto 4 and Roberto and Daff 2 each.
Galchenko has been solid on the glass this winter along with help from Roberto, Quaranto, Fayne and Daff.
"We just need to eliminate long spurts against teams," said the coach. "With more and more practice, this team will continue to improve."
Aurora was to play Dec. 17 at Gilmour Academy, but final results were not available at presstime. In upcoming non-league play, Aurora plays Dec. 21 at Streetsboro and Dec. 27 at Twinsburg.