Lady ’Lopes make playoffs

The Avonworth girls made a terrific comeback against Freedom Monday night to secure a spot in the WPIAL playoffs. Pictured at right, Katie Gould takes a shot, backed up by Erin Welsh (No. 11) and Lily Tedesco. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

By JIM RUMBLE

It was a tale of two halves when the Avonworth girls’ basketball team hosted Freedom in a crucial section match-up this past Monday.

Overcoming an 11-point halftime deficit, the Lady ‘Lopes turned it around with a strong second half to defeat the Bulldogs 50-46 and earn a playoff spot for the upcoming WPIAL playoffs.

"We were able to turn it around in the third quarter with rebounding and shooting the ball," said 'Lopes coach Toni Roscoe.

The 'Lopes led early against the Bulldogs. Nicole Costa drained a three-ball and Katie Gould followed with a put-back basket to take a 5-0 lead. Freedom responded with a three-ball of their own, but Erin Welsh scored on a second chance shot and Gould followed with a pair of free throws to extend the Antelope lead to 9-3.

The Bulldogs responded with a 7-0 run that included two baskets from beyond the arc to take the lead at 10-9 with 1:35 left in the opening quarter.

Gould and Sarah Ward knocked down mid-range shots on Avonworth's next two possessions, but Freedom added a free throw and finished with their fourth three-pointer of the quarter and a 14-13 lead.

The Bulldogs remained hot from the outside on offense to start the second quarter, with two baskets from beyond the arc fueling a 10-1 run to extend their lead to 22-14. Costa scored on a runner in the lane and Welsh knocked down two from the stripe to narrow Avonworth's deficit, but Freedom was able to take advantage of recurrent turnovers by the 'Lopes to stay ahead.

A bank shot off the right side by Lily Tedesco had Avonworth trailing 30-23 with just under two minutes remaining in the quarter. Freedom claimed a 5-1 advantage down the stretch to lead 35-24 at the half.

Just when you thought this game was headed for the loss column the Lady ‘Lopes managed to climb back into the contest in the third quarter.

Freedom lost their touch on offense, especially from the perimeter, and Avonworth took full advantage. Gould, Tedesco and Ward each scored from inside the lane, and Anna Joyce capped a 9-0 Antelope run with a three-ball off the right side that had the Lady ‘Lopes trailing 35-33 with 2:50 left in the period.

Freedom stopped the run with a basket inside, but Tedesco knocked down a jumper from the left corner that had Avonworth behind 37-35 going into the fourth quarter.

The 'Lopes moved in front in the fourth on their first possession, with Joyce again connecting from long range, but the Bulldogs scored the next three points to lead 40-38. Avonworth countered with a 7-0 run that began when Costa drilled a three-pointer from the right side to put the 'Lopes back in front. Tedesco followed with a jumper from the left corner, then added a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 45-40.

Avonworth had a couple of opportunities to increase the lead when they went into their stall offense, but they were not able to convert free throws after being intentionally fouled.

Freedom added a free throw and then banked in a three-pointer to trail 45-44 with 1:14 left in the game.

The 'Lopes appeared to be running some time from the clock on their next possession when Jaycee Prescott, who just returned to game action after a lengthy absence, banked in a shot to put the score at 47-44. Ward added a free throw and Joyce converted a pair of free throws to help secure Avonworth's 50-46 victory.

Tedesco led the offense, finishing with 11 points, followed by Gould with 9, Costa and Joyce each with 8, Welsh with 7, Ward with 5 and Prescott with 2.

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