Aurora boys hoops squad ends 9-13 regular season, eyes tourney

by JIM MANION | CORRESPONDENT Published:

Aurora -- The Greenmen will try to post a victory tonight (Feb. 26) in the opening round of the Division I boys basketball sectional tournament when they travel to Cleveland Heights.

Aurora closed out its regular season with a 9-13 overall record (6-6 in the Chagrin Valley Conference) after a 40-36 loss to Painesville Harvey. No individual scoring totals were available from that game.

Meanwhile, the Greenmen put together a strong second half Feb. 18 at Ravenna to claim a quality 55-48 win.

Aurora outscored Ravenna 35-21 in the second half, and after trailing for almost three quarters pulled away in the final two minutes.

Using as many as 10 players, second-year coach Jim Wallich said after the game that his team has a lot of heart.

"Ravenna is a good team -- we saw them score 81 points when we scouted them -- so we are pretty excited about this win," said Wallich.

"We went with Drew Daff off the bench because we wanted to get his length up top of their zone, and I thought junior Michael Durkin and him really stepped up and played with a new level of energy that we have not been playing with."

Daff hit a pair of 3-pointers and Durkin contributed 5 points.

Paul Kollat led Aurora with 15 points, while Parker Blunt hit a pair of 3s and finished with 12. Joe Dinardo chipped in 11.

The Ravens never trailed in the first half. A Danny Miller 3 midway through the first quarter gave Ravenna a 9-5 lead, then Warren Bradley scored a fastbreak basket off a Dukes assist to up the lead to 11-5.

Dukes scored a pair of buckets in the paint late in the quarter to give his team a 15-11 advantage after one period.

The Greenmen could not find their shooting range in the second quarter until Kollat hit a 3 with 2:45 to play in the half. He then scored the next 6 points and collected 9 for the quarter, which was all Aurora's scoring in the period, as Ravenna led 27-20 at halftime.

Ravenna (12-9) maintained at 39-31 advantage with 2:20 left in the third quarter when Daff entered the contest and quickly drilled a pair of 3s from the corner. Eventually, AHS went up 42-41 at the quarter break.

"When you can come off the bench like Daff and Durkin and do the things they do it's a real boost for your team," added Wallich. "We wanted to get the ball to Kollat as much as possible. He's a shooter, and we thought that was one of the areas we could exploit.

"We played hard-nosed man-to-man [defense], and I think when you do that you can really have a tendency not to let them get into a groove. I think we did that tonight."

Logan Swartz opened the fourth quarter with a 3 to give the lead back to Ravenna, but Blunt answered with a 3 and the Greenmen never trailed again. Dinardo hit four straight free throws in the fourth quarter and took over ball control for his team.

Ty-Shawn Dukes led the Ravens with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Michael Boltz and Anthony Banks each had 8 points.

Tonight's tournament contest at Cleveland Heights will begin at 7.

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