West Grove >> When Avon Grove and Unionville hooked up in a girls-boys basketball doubleheader Saturday evening at Avon Grove, they were playing for a cause greater than their respective teams.
The event was the 6th Annual Wounded Warrior Night. Each January since 2012, Avon Grove plays Unionville, Kennett or Oxford in a basketball doubleheader. Wounded Warrior T-shirts are sold during the week leading up to the doubleheader (spectators get free admission with the purchase of a T-shirt), and every year, approximately $2,000 has been raised – all monies go directly to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Special Wounded Warrior warm-ups were worn by all four teams Saturday night, and between games of the doubleheader, both Avon Grove basketball head coaches were honored as former veterans. Avon Grove girls’ coach Harry Loeffler served in the Navy from 1977 to 1981, and AG boys’ coach Roy Blumenthal served in the Army from 1975-1980.
Blumenthal, whose squad defeated Unionville 50-35 in the nightcap, said, “I was really humbled [by the honor]. And it was nice to see Harry honored also. Even though Harry was in the Navy, I still like him (laughs).”
Loeffler, whose team fell to Unionville 65-51 in the opener, said, “This event is for a great cause. Scott Whiteside does a great job putting this together.”
Whiteside said, “We’ve gotten a lot of help from everyone – both at Avon Grove and Unionville – in putting together this event.”
Whiteside’s son Scooter, an Avon Grove senior guard, originally helped get the ball rolling in 2012 for Wounded Warrior Night as a service project in seventh grade. In Saturday’s nightcap, he led the winners with 14 points.
“My Dad helped me to set [the Wounded Warrior event] up,” said Scooter. “I’m proud that we won tonight, on a night where we honored the sacrifices the soldiers made. They won us our freedom.”
Between the doubleheader, a Marine Corps Honor Guard consisting of several former Marines displayed flags during the pre-game performance of the National Anthem, sung by four members of the Avon Grove High School choir – Cole Walker, Akhila Yalvigi, Nick Govatos and Lindsay Felker.
In the opener, the Unionville girls (6-5, 1-2) outscored Avon Grove in each of the first three quarters en route to their 65-51 win. Grace Schrof led the Indians with 19 points, Olivia Cresta chipped in with 12 (including 6-for-8 from the free throw line) and Sarah Covert added eight. Nine different Indians scored against Avon Grove (3-8).
“Grace Schrof has been our rock all season,” said Unionville head coach Fred Ellzy. “But some of our other girls stepped up tonight too. We’ve been doing a lot of shooting in practice, and we shot well tonight. Avon Grove is not an easy team to play, they’ve got a good offense.”
For Avon Grove, Sara White and Jamie Perkins each scored 12 points.
Loeffler said, “We’re a young team, and we’re getting better. We have a lot of season left to play.”
In the nightcap, the Unionville and Avon Grove boys battled to a 16-16 tie at halftime. The Red Devils (6-6) started the second half with a 13-0 run and outscored the visitors 17-2 in the third quarter (eight of those points were by Des Murphy) to take a commanding lead.
“At the beginning of the season, Coach [Blumenthal] said he wanted us to have the lowest points per game average [on defense] in the league,” said Scooter Whiteside. “The third quarter was big for us tonight – we decided to play some defense.”
Blumenthal said, “We knew that Unionville averaged more than 60 points a game, and this was our fourth game in five nights. But our kids are resilient, and they all played hard tonight, even the guys who came off the bench – the effort was there. The fact that there was a great student body turnout tonight, and the band was there, and the cheerleaders, I think it helped the kids push through [their fatigue].”
Murphy scored 12 second-half points for the winners. Bo Furey-Bastian led Unionville (7-4, 3-1) with 17 points.
Unionville boys head coach Chris Cowles said, “Wounded Warrior Night is a tremendous event – we worked hand-in-hand with Avon Grove and Scott Whiteside.”
Notes: Sponsors of the 6th Annual Wounded Warrior Night included Jennersville Hospital/Tower Health; Sunny Dell Foods, Inc.; Dr. Thomas F. Muller, DMD, PC; Mar-John Masonry; Chesapeake Sports and Orthopaedics; Keller Williams, agent Matt Fetick; Peak Physical Therapy; Miller Eye Care; Dr. Nicholas J. Russo DMD; and Dimatteo Financial Group.
Unionville 65, Avon Grove 51
UNIONVILLE (65): Barrett 2 0-0 5, Ciccarelli 0 4-8 4, Baughan 0 0-0 0, Iaccoca 2 0-2 4, Heldt 3 0-0 6, Megill 1 3-4 5, Covert 3 2-2 8, Cresta 3 6-8 12, Schrof 7 4-6 19, Towler 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 19-30 65.
AVON GROVE (51): Donten 2 2-2 6, Hawkins 2 1-2 7, Perkins 5 0-1 12, Lestrougen 0 0-1 0, Cavalier 0 0-2 0, White 4 3-4 12, Malone 3 0-0 6, Smida 3 0-0 8. Totals 19 6-12 51.
Unionville 17 18 16 14 – 65
Avon Grove 12 14 7 18 – 51
3-point goals: UN – Barrett, Schrof; AG – Hawkins 2, Perkins 2, White, Smida.
Avon Grove 50, Unionville 35
UNIONVILLE (35): Dillon 0 0-0 0, Kucharczuk 0 0-0 0, Furey-Bastian 6 2-2 17, Ash 0 0-0 0, Ciccarelli 1 0-0 2, Hockenberry 2 0-0 4, Zubrillaga 0 0-0 0, Rafferty 4 2-4 10, Lenkaitis 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 4-6 35.
AVON GROVE (50): Borcky 3 1-2 8, Whiteside 3 7-11 14, Petrison 1 1-2 3, Lapham 0 0-0 0, Russo 3 1-2 8, Brady 2 0-0 5, Murphy 3 6-8 12. Totals 15 16-25 50.
Unionville 9 7 2 17 – 35
Avon Grove 4 12 17 17 – 50
3-point goals: UN – Furey-Bastian 3; AG – Borcky, Whiteside, Russo, Brady.
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