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Aurora -- Outstanding team defense had everything to do with Aurora's impressive varsity boys basketball 47-40 league win Jan. 31 at West Geauga. It moved the team to even at 4-4 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division and 6-10 overall.
"I'm not sure how long it has been since Aurora beat West Geauga, but our half court defense was phenomenal," said second-year head coach Jim Wallish. "Everyone who played for us -- even off the bench -- played great defense. What that team defense did was give our offense more opportunities."
Senior guard Paul Kollat led the Greenmen with 13 points, including a trio of 3-point bombs in the first half against the Wolverines' zone defense.
West Geauga's Anthony Insana had 12 points and 8 rebounds, as the Wolverines fell to 2-6 in the league and 5-9 overall.
"Paul is one of our best shooters and he did great against their zone, but it was his teammates who showed the ability to find him," said Wallish. "That was a big key."
The defense held the Wolves to a season-low 14 points in the entire first half, as the locals used man-to-man defense with a few half-court traps mixed in.
AHS led 9-5 after one quarter and used a 16-9 second period to take a commanding 25-14 lead at halftime.
The Greenmen extended the lead in a tough third quarter. Aurora led 37-22 going into the final period, in which West G. outscored Aurora 18-10.
Junior Pavel Galchenko played well on both ends as he had 7 points, plus senior forward Anthony Quaranto and sophomore guard Parker Blunt each had 6. Junior guard Michael Durkin scored 5 points on the strength of three free throws.
Senior forward Joe Roberto added 4 points, while Nick Ely, Joe Dinardo and Kyle Fayne each had a hoop. Senior forward Drew Daff also played sound defense and helped on the glass.
"I thought Roberto and Durkin did a real nice job on the glass, but everyone contributed," Wallish said. "Ely came in and took some big charges and forced several turnovers with his defense while Daff had a huge block for us. Daff helped with pressure out on our traps."
Wallish was asked if he thought his club, just 1-22 last year, could have reached the .500 mark in CVC play this year. He didn't hesitate with his answer.
"I have always thought at the beginning [of this season] that if this team plays as hard as it can, they are capable of beating anybody in the league. I'm happy the kids are feeling this success. I still think there were a few more games that we could have won."
GIRLS LOSE TO TIGERS
In girls hoop action last week, the Greenmen were competitive against the best in the league, as they lost 44-30 to Chagrin Falls, which clinched a share of the CVC's Chagrin Division championship.
Logan Huffman, a second year sophomore point guard, had one of her top games for Aurora as she poured in 12 points. The 5-7 Huffman buried a pair of 3-pointers.
Despite being held under double digits for all four quarters, Aurora battled to remain competitive as the locals fell to 3-15 overall and 3-6 in the CVC.
Freshman guard Korie Hobbs added 6 points, while senior guard Hanna Garnek had 5, sophomore Maria Mims 4, freshman Syarra Sellers 2 and freshman April Davis had a free throw.
"We had a hard time getting into a rhythm on offense and we did not play great defense," said veteran Aurora coach Erika Greenberg.
Hannah Thome, a 6-foot-1 junior, had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots for Chagrin (13-5, 8-0). The Tigers also got 10 points, 8 boards and 2 blocks from small forward Amy Dishong.
The girls sectional/district tournament draw took place Feb. 2 in the new "blended" format. The 12-team Kenston field is blended with the 12-team Perry field. "We were ranked 23rd out of the 24 teams in our bracket," said Greenberg, and AHS will play Feb. 15 at 1 p.m. at top-seeded Solon.