Avon Lake head coach Dave Zvara knew the answer to the question before it was even asked.
“It’s been our one downfall so far this season,” Zvara said.
Westlake, despite some problems of its own, remained undefeated by pressuring the Shoregals into 30 turnovers to come away with a 45-40 win Saturday afternoon at the Avon Lake Fieldhouse.
“We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the ball,” Zvara said. “There were a lot of unforced turnovers.
“But on the positive side, I also saw a lot of improvement in a lot of kids,” he said. “There were kids stepping up and doing a better job as far as scoring, rebounding and playing defense.”
The stat sheet showed Avon Lake with a commanding 37-22 rebounding edge and a 44 percent shooting performance from the floor. Westlake shot at a 31 percent clip but was still able to build and maintain its lead with an intense full-court press.
In the first quarter, the Shoregals took what turned out to be their final lead of the game on a 3-pointer from senior Lacy LeDuc. That’s when the Demons turned up the pressure and went on the 7-0 run that gave them the lead for good.
The run started with a rebound for two by senior post player Katie Carroll. Fellow senior Lauren Wichman drained a three, and junior point guard Liz Kobe scored on a drive to the hoop to make it 19-14 heading into the second quarter. By then, they had already pressured their hosts into eight turnovers.
From that point on, however, Westlake struggled offensively. The Demons made just two of 12 attempts from the floor in the second quarter, yet managed to keep the lead. Kobe scored eight more points, including her team’s only field goals of the quarter.
But the Demon defense kept working. Westlake forced its second 10-second call of the game and caused six more Shoregal turnovers that helped build a 32-28 halftime lead.
Neither team shot well in the second half, with Avon Lake dominating the boards to hold Westlake to one shot per possession. Up 34-30, the Demons used a 6-0 run to get a little more breathing room.
In the fourth quarter, Maggie Zimmerman scored on a fast break and Rachael Trujillo drilled a 3-pointer to give Westlake its biggest lead, 45-34, with 5:05 left in the game. Even though the Demons failed to score the rest of the way, their defense was able to hold long enough to preserve the win.
“We caused a lot of turnovers, but we didn’t execute anything off those turnovers,” said Westlake head coach Chip Weiss, whose team moved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Southwestern Conference.
“That was disappointing today,” Weiss said. “Offensively, we looked very sluggish. We’re not shooting the ball well and we were a step behind all day. We played their half-court game today and didn’t play the up-temp style of ball we’re used to.”
Carroll led the Demons with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Kobe and Zimmerman had 11 and 10 points, respectively. Trujillo added seven points, while Wichman chipped in with five.
“We just have to keep playing out there,” Weiss said of his team’s lack of offensive production. “We got frustrated when we didn’t make our shots. We’ve got to keep our heads up and keep attacking.
“We settled for too many outside shots today. They fouled us early, and we didn’t take advantage. We were setting up for too many outside shots instead of penetrating and attacking,” he added.
LeDuc led all scorers with 13 points and helped out under the boards with eight rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Abby Rogers had eight points, while Anelise Kollas popped in a pair of 3-pointers for six points.
Molly Disbrow, Maggie Heschel and Emily Nicholas each had five rebounds for the Shoregals, who fell to 1-3 overall and 1-1 in the SWC.
“Molly, Emily and Maggie, our three posts inside, did a nice job of boxing out, and Anelise came up big with her two threes,” Zvara said. “Lacy has a lot on her shoulders. She plays hard, and that’s why sometimes she gets into foul trouble.
“But she’s also taken three charges already this season, which you don’t always see from your best player. She’s our leader out there and definitely makes things happen.
“We’re not good enough yet where we can be behind by 10 points and be able to catch up,” Zvara said. “We have to make sure we don’t put ourselves in a hole like that. We did the same thing against Brunswick.
“We’ve got a tough schedule early on, but it’s only going to make us better,” he added.
Avon Lake now travels to Amherst on Wednesday, while Westlake returns home to take on Berea the same night.