Antelopes edged out of playoffs in OT

Pictured here: Avonworth’s J.J. Igims (in the dark uniform) and the rest of the Antelopes held their own against Southmoreland until the final overtime minutes. Photo by Alex Domencic for The Citizen

By JIM RUMBLE

An upset seemed imminent for the Avonworth boys’ basketball team when they squared off with the Southmoreland Scotties in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs last Saturday. Foul trouble, unfortunately, took its toll toward the end of the contest as the Antelopes were defeated in overtime 64-55 to close out their season.

Give credit to Avonworth's play defensively for keeping Southmoreland's 6'10" center Brandon Stone in check, limiting the big guy to 14 points -- 12.5 points below his average.

"I think we did a great job on defense all the way around," said 'Lopes coach Dan Bradley, whose team held the Scotties to 20 points below their game average in regulation.

Avonworth took the early lead, getting six points from Matt Crilley and a three-pointer by Darius Simmons to take a 9-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Neither team shot the ball particularly well at the start, but the Antelopes would pay a price for their aggressive play defensively as they were whistled for seven fouls while forcing five turn-overs in the first quarter.

The lead changed hands a couple of times early in the second quarter before the 'Lopes produced a 10-4 run to extend their lead.

Stone scored his first basket for the Scotties with just under four minutes left in the period to cut Avonworth's lead to 20-18, but J.J. Igims knocked down a three-pointer from the right corner to put Avonworth in front 23-18. Garrett Day added a three-ball, Simmons hit on a short jumper, and Crilley scored a basket in transition as the Antelopes moved to a 30-22 lead at halftime.

Southmoreland was able to capitalize on a couple of Avonworth turn-overs early in the third, which helped to send the Scotties on a 13-3 run to take a 35-33 lead with 2:10 left in the period.

Mike Noethiger responded with a three-pointer from the right corner. but Southmoreland scored in the lane and added a pair of free throws to end the quarter leading 39-36.

The teams battled back and forth with seven lead changes happening in the fourth quarter.

Avonworth was behind 49-48 when Noethiger's basket from beyond the arc put the 'Lopes in front 51-49 with under two minutes remaining. The Antelopes had a couple of opportunities to run some time off the clock, but a critical turn-over led to a transition basket for the Scotties, sending the teams into overtime tied 51-51.

Day and Noethiger both fouled out in the overtime period, where Southmoreland was able to take control of the game. The Scotties were 9-12 from the free throw line while outscoring the Antelopes 13-4 in the extra frame to secure a 64-55 win.

"I'm proud of our team and I'm sure the communi-ty is very proud - we just came up a little short," said Bradley.

Crilley led Avonworth on offense with 17 points, followed by Noethiger with 13 points and Day with 12 points.