Aurora -- Early confidence on the offensive end led to a big 40-point second half as the Aurora boys basketball team travelled to Pepper Pike and beat Orange 68-50 in Chagrin Valley Conference action.
It also helped that the Greenmen, who were only up one at the half, had an outstanding assist-to-turnover ratio. That isn't a statistic that inexperienced basketball teams fare well at, but Aurora posted 17 assists while committing just five turnovers.
Aurora, 4-9 overall, was able to outscore Orange (1-10) by 17 points in the second half.
"The kids played really well at Orange and I think because we were able to score early in the game that it helped us with our confidence," said head coach Jim Wallish.
The Greenmen led 17-13 after the opening quarter and 28-27 at the half. A 22-point third quarter broke open the game, along with strong defense.
"Our kids set a goal for a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio for the year, and that was big for us," said the mentor, as Aurora moved to 2-3 in the CVC Chagrin Division.
Aurora was paced by speedy junior guard Joe Dinardo, who finished with 21 points. He converted 8 free throws and constantly pressured Orange, driving to the hoop
Senior guard Paul Kollat made 5 free throws and popped in 17 points.
"Dinardo did really well and Paul was strong in the second half," said Wallish, who also credited sophomore guard Parker Blunt (6 points) for his early offense.
Another senior, forward Anthony Quaranto, netted 9 points in the balanced attack. Junior center Pavel Galchenko had 8 points, senior forward Joe Roberto had 6 and junior Michael Durkin added a free throw.
"Galchenko did a good job on the glass, but I was pleased with how we worked during the week to stop dribble penetration. That's what we did at Orange, and it was absolutely a big key," said the coach.
"Our inside people -- Roberto, Galchenko, Quaranto, and [sophomore] Kyle Fayne -- all have been fabulous at stopping penetration to the paint," added Wallish. "They are stopping it, putting their hands up and trying to force some charges."
Nelson Maxwell led Orange with 17 points. Spencer Williams netted 14 and Rayshawn Watkins had 10.
Wallish also had a lot of praise for his junior varsity and freshman teams this winter. The JV unit is 10-3 overall and the freshman are 8-4. "Our kids in the program are working extremely hard and the guys at the JV level, and on the freshman team, are doing a fabulous job," he said.
The locals play at Chagrin Falls on Jan. 24, visit Painesville Harvey on Jan. 28 and go on the road to West Geauga (Jan. 31), Kenston (Feb. 4) and Chardon on Feb. 8.
GIRLS WIN SECOND
The Aurora girls basketball team posted a huge 61-57 home win over league rival Perry on Jan. 18 to raise its overall record to 2-13.
"This was a great win for us because last time we played Perry we lost by 29 points," said veteran Aurora head coach Erika Greenberg.
"Our girls played extremely hard and we had everyone contribute in the win which was really nice to see. We had some foul troubles in the first half and had some players really step up big and play well," she said.
Leading Aurora were Hanna Garnek with 11 points, Syarra Sellers with 10, Maria Mims 9, Logan Huffman 8 and Joyelle Owens 7.
"I am very proud of how hard the girls have been working this season, and all the hard work is paying off. We are getting better," said Greenberg.
With the victory, the Lady Greenmen moved to 2-4 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division. They are scheduled to play at Orange tonight (Jan. 22) and host Kenston on Jan. 25 at 2:30 p.m. and Painesville Riverside on Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m.