BUCKTOWN >> Life comes at you fast.
A year ago, Avery White was the impressive underclassmen amid in a senior-heavy Owen J. Roberts girls basketball team that achieved the program’s best-ever season when it reached the PIAA 6A tournament second round.
A year later, White is suddenly the Wildcats’ unquestionable leader in play and experience.
She’s been capably shouldering the load so far this season and was at it again Friday night as the junior guard’s 21 points carried Owen J. Roberts to a 36-22 home victory over Perkiomen Valley.
The Wildcats earned their first Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division win of the year (1-3, 2-3) by doing it at both ends of the floor, taking control in the second quarter and holding cold-shooting Perk Valley (0-2, 1-3) to just 22 points and no double-digit quarters.
“We played really well as a team and put all the little pieces together that we’d been missing. We played good defense, everyone was contributing offensively,” White said.
She came close to matching that total as she upped her season average to a PAC-leading 19.2 points per game.
“I’m coming into it with the mindset that I need to score and do all the little things right so I can lead the team and keep everyone going forward,” White said. “And being positive too because a lot of (our younger players) are learning.”
Sophomores Gabbi Koury (6 points) and Alexa Vogelman (3) were active at both ends of the floor, often the first to loose balls, while senior Olivia Hannum (4) was a presence in the front court.
Perk Valley got seven points from Jennifer Beattie and five apiece from Naiya Daisey and Anna Stein.
Perk Valley acquitted itself well two nights earlier in a 42-34 loss to three-time defending league champion Spring-Ford, but was short of its best Friday night.
The conditions of the delayed season and restictions in the COVID-19 pandemic are hard for every team, let alone one with a new coaching staff.
The Vikings are in their first year under John Russo, who spent four years coaching at the PV middle school level.
Russo and his team are doing their best to get together but it takes time.
“Our boys’ team, Mike Poysden’s been there forever. Their returning players know every inbounds play, every offensive set they want to run,” Russo said. “We’re introducing ourselves as coaches to the players and it’s ‘Hey, we have two days to install defense.’ I want to instill a culture of defense. … It’s all this stuff and how do you get that in in 11 practices?”
Russo praised the work ethic of his squad but it remains a victim of circumstance.
“It’s not (the players). I feel bad for them. They give 100 percent effort, so it’s not that,” he said. “If we get a couple baskets to fall I think things will change.”
Perk Valley led 9-7 after a quarter thanks to Beattie’s late 3-pointer but the game turned in the second quarter.
OJR opened on a 9-0 run – seven from White – to go up 16-9 with 5:29 to halftime. It upped the advantage to 20-11 at halftime.
The Wildcats continued to be the hungrier team to loose balls and rebounds and less mistake-prone in the third quarter, building the lead to 31-16. Vogelman assisted a cutting White for OJR’s biggest lead at 33-17 with 4:44 remaining before cruising to the 14-point win.
“I thought our defense was fine – if we give up 36 points we should be in the game,” Russo said. “We have to find a way to stay in an offense and get a good shot out of it.”
The expectations for Owen J. Roberts are different this season with so much turnover, but White is focused on the team maximizing its opportunity this winter.
“It’s about having the mindset of everyone working toward the same goal,” she said. “You have to keep working hard every game and motivate all the girls to want to work hard and push them to be better.”
|January 29, 2021||7:00 pm||Mercury||2020|