LONDON GROVE >> The Avon Grove girls basketball team has been the surprise story of the young season – they have suffered through losing season after losing season, but the corner has seemed to turn. They came into Thursday’s Ches-Mont League National Division contest against Coatesville sporting a 5-2 record.
But, poor shooting proved their undoing, falling behind through the first three quarters. Despite a spirited rally by the Red Devils in the final stanza, the Red Raiders gutted out a 37-35 road victory.
“Any road win in your league, in your division is always a good thing,” said Coatesville coach Scott Barker. “Avon Grove played a heck of second half. They battled back, but we knew they would play all 32 minutes. They got a look at the end, but we played good defense, the shot missed and we came out with a hotly-contested win.”
The Red Raiders (3-2 Ches-Mont National, 5-4 overall) came into the fourth with 32-20 lead, thanks in part to a six-point third quarter from Alexis Fields.
The Red Devils (1-3, 5-3) started their comeback with a 3-pointer from Alex Miller, followed by baskets from Gabby Beltran and two by Brooke Huver. With two minutes gone by, the deficit was cut to 32-30.
“They played great in the second half,” said Avon Grove coach Bart O’Connor. “I thought they played great all great, but the baskets didn’t fall for us, then they did start falling for us. We have a bunch of young girls out there, and they played tough. We almost had them.”
The Coatesville scoring drought ended when Fields made two free throws to make it 34-31 with 2:36 left. The Red Raiders were held without a field goal in the fourth quarter, missing all seven attempts and committing seven turnovers.
“That’s all the ladies, they play so hard on defense,” said O’Connor. “We went man-to-man and we had to take it to them. They did great, they switched, played hard and didn’t let anyone intimidate them.”
Ellzy, who was held without a field goal in the second half, made three of five free throws down the stretch. The last of them came with 14.8 seconds left for a 37-35 advantage.
The Red Devils worked out a final look, but Leila Rubin’s shot from the right wing bounced off the rim and Coatesville heaved a sigh of relief and celebrated the victory.
“Leila Rubin, who is a freshman and leads us in points, got the shot, and you know what, some go in and some don’t,” added O’Connor.
Ellzy scored eight of her 11 points in the first half as Coatesville worked up a 24-14 lead at halftime.
The Red Raiders received quality minutes from Aiden Longley, playing in her first game of the season. She contributed four points in the second and eight for the evening.
“I could’ve played better than I played, but I made sure to stay strong on defense to help my team out,” said Longley. “Just putting my effort in and help my team.”
“She’s a real presence inside at both ends of the court, and for her first game with us this year, she did great,” Barker said of Longley.
Defense did rule the evening as shots from all over the court didn’t fall. And the issue plagued both sides. Avon Grove shot 14-of-57 from the floor, while Coatesville was 13-of-51. Going inside was a take-your-chances proposition. Coatesville had 13 blocks for the game, while Miller had six individually for Avon Grove.
Both teams have nonleague home games on Saturday. Coatesville takes on Academy Park and Avon Grove faces Interboro.
Coatesville 37, Avon Grove 35
Coatesville: Taggart 1 0-0 2; Fields 3 4-5 11; Ellzy 3 3-5 11; Forest 0 1-2 1; Riggins 1 0-0 2; Ward 1 0-0 2; Langley 4 0-1 8. Totals: 13 8-12 37.
Avon Grove: Traa 2 0-0 5; Hartley 1 2-4 4; Pyle 0 0-0 0; Rubin 3 1-4 7; Huver 2 0-0 5; Mills 0 1-2 1; Gardner 1 0-0 2; Miller 3 0-0 7; Beltran 2 0-0 4. Totals: 14 4-10 35.
Coatesville 13 11 8 5 — 37
Avon Grove 8 6 6 15 — 35
3-point goals: Ellzy 2, Fields, Miller, Huver, Traa.
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