After Wednesday’s disappointing 46-30 loss to Bay, to say that the girls’ basketball team didn’t look like the same team that pounded Bay into submission by a score of 61-37 less than a month ago would be a huge understatement.
The Eagles were missing four starters Wednesday and, against a tough Bay team, it showed.
“Any time you’re missing four starters, it’s definitely going to be a challenge. It’s a situation where you hope somebody steps up,” said Avon coach Meghan Banks after the difficult loss.
Missing from the game were senior Brianne Kistler and juniors Cora Cachat and Emily Julius. Junior Natalie Wilden was not in her usual starting spot, but did come off the bench to key an 8-0 run in the second quarter that gave the appearance that the Eagles would hang with the Rockets throughout the night.
Wilden is suffering from an ankle injury that could hamper her in the state tournament, set to begin for Avon on February 26 against Padua at Elyria West at 5 p.m. Banks was unsure of the status of Kistler, Cachat and Julius for the tournament.
The Lady Eagles came into the night with a 14-5 record (including 11-2 in West Shore Conference games). They left licking their wounds as Bay built up a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter and cruised to an easy win. Bay’s record is now even at 10-10.
At times, it appeared that the height and tenacity of Bay was too much for a young Avon lineup. Bay’s 6-foot-1 sophomore Taylor Seton scorched the Eagles for 15 points, while junior Claire Wilson dropped in 12 points to go along with several steals.
For the Eagles, senior Mackenzie Brua finished with 8 points, while sophomore Morgan Smigel added 6.
Following Smigel’s basket, the night seemed to be over for the Eagles, who were outscored by the Rockets 16-6 in the first quarter.
The second quarter saw the Eagles claw their way back into the game. Led by Wilden, Brua, junior Breana Cain and sophomore Brianna Smith, Avon closed the quarter with a 10-2 run.
“We usually like to play a transition-type offense, and be aggressive on that end. Natalie was able to give us a few minutes of aggressive play at the point before we decided we’d rather keep her (healthy) for the tournament,” said Banks.
The third quarter featured several costly turnovers, and reminders of how difficult it is to compete without four starters, or even four regular rotation players.
The Eagles were shut out for nearly half of the final quarter, and were able to get several of their junior varsity some playing time.