Kennett Square >> Avon Grove’s 70-49 boys’ basketball win against host Kennett Saturday proved to be quite a memorable afternoon for the Whiteside family.
The game was designated as the inaugural John Whiteside Memorial Cup, to be contested annually between these two squads. The Cup is named after long-time Kennett High School mathematics teacher and basketball coach John Whiteside, who passed away in 1998.
His grandson, Avon Grove senior guard Scooter Whiteside, provided much of the spark for the Red Devils’ convincing win, particularly in the second half. Avon Grove (3-1) outscored the Blue Demons 35-18 after halftime.
“Scooter is our quarterback and our leader, and he got us into our offense in the second half,” said Avon Grove head coach Roy Blumenthal. “We were more patient in the second half. … This win is really big for our program.”
Scooter Whiteside scored seven second-half points, including a 4-for-4 performance from the free throw line, along with dishing out numerous assists.
“Winning this game meant a lot to me,” said Scooter Whiteside. “My grandfather passed away a year before I was born, but it’s awesome reading about him and what he accomplished.”
Future proceeds from the John Whiteside Memorial Cup will be used to support the John Whiteside Memorial Scholarship, which over the years has awarded approximately $20,000 to Kennett High School students who have gone on to study mathematics or education in college, and has donated about $10,000 to the Kennett High School Athletic Department.
Scooter’s father Scott, who played basketball at Kennett, also is involved in the Avon Grove boys’ basketball program.
“Scott has really been helping me with our program behind the scenes, fund-raising and with the booster club,” said Blumenthal.
Another key Red Devil Saturday afternoon was Avon Grove 6-foot-4 senior Destin Murphy, who scored 26 points, along with a bundle of rebounds and a few key steals against Kennett (1-4).
“This win is awesome for Scooter and for everyone on our team,” said Murphy. “My teammates set me up today for scores, we kept passing and kicking out to the open man, and Scooter was in the middle getting all those assists.”
Early in the second quarter, Avon Grove built a 23-16 lead, which included five treys (three by senior William Petrison).
Avon Grove bolted out to a 53-34 lead late in the third quarter, with the help of strong rebounding by Murphy, inside scoring from senior Aldred Russo (who scored seven points in the third quarter), and timely treys from Whiteside and Murphy.
Whiteside said, “In the second half, instead of forcing and pushing the ball, we ran our offense the way it should be run.”
“We had some foul trouble today,” noted Blumenthal (Avon Grove committed 22 fouls, Kennett 27). “But our defense got better in the second half.”
Meanwhile, Kennett 6-foot-1 junior co-captain Mitch Kosara kept the hosts in the game, scoring seven of the Blue Demons’ nine 3rd-quarter points and hitting a jump shot just before the end of the third period. He finished the game with 17 points.
“Mitch attacked the net today, he’s been our big scorer, but Avon Grove made it tough for him,” said Kennett head coach Brian Grashof. “The third quarter got away from us. Avon Grove played really well today.
“We have a young team, a lot of juniors. We’ll try to win the next [John Whiteside Memorial Cup] – it’s really cool that this game is honoring someone who’s as big a figure as he was.”
NOTES: Before the game, Kennett honored long-time fan Chuckie Hartman with a letterman jacket, only the second non-playing individual to be honored as such by the Blue Demons. The first honoree was former Kennett Square mayor Leon Spencer, Jr., a long-time announcer of Blue Demon athletic events (including Saturday’s game) and who was recently named Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce.
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