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Coatesville races away from Avon Grove to book spot in Ches-Mont Final Four

Coatesville’s (2) Deja Morris shoots a three pointer in the first quarter as Avon Grove’s (13) Anna Heisler defends Tuesday night which was Senior night at Coatesville. (PETE BANNAN-DAILY LOCAL NEWS)

COATESVILLE >> It took a long time for heralded guard Tina Nicholson to become a high school girls basketball coach. She was an assistant on some pretty good teams throughout her career.
Now, in her first year at Coatesville, Nicholson has led the Red Raiders to a spot they have not previously been — a berth in the Ches-Mont League Final Four.
Coatesville used a spurt in the third quarter and a suffocating, pressure defense to pull away for a 48-26 Ches-Mont League National Division victory.
The Red Raiders’ win, combined with Henderson’s loss to Bishop Shanahan, pushed Coatesville into the Final Four where a date with American Division champion West Chester Rustin awaits them on Saturday at West Chester University.
“This is huge,” said Nicholson on making the Final Four. “Number one, I never thought I would be at Coatesville coaching, and definitely not the head coach. But, here I am and here we are.
“I always knew I had the ability to be a head coach. Did I think I would put in the time and the effort? I didn’t think so. This is a great opportunity on and off the court. I love being a Coatesville Lady Raider.”

Coatesville’s (3) Serenity Burgess grabs a rebound in the first quarter against Avon Grove Tuesday night which was Senior night at Coatesville. (PETE BANNAN-DAILY LOCAL NEWS)

Coatesville, who has had trouble shooting from the outside during the season, got off to flying start as Sydney Butcher — on Senior Night — buried two three-pointers to get them off to a 6-2 start.
“It was amazing. As soon as I got back into the locker room I told her ‘Sydney, thank you for those two threes.’ It got us off to a great start. She’s wide open and she usually makes those in practice. She doesn’t really take them in a game a lot. She did tonight, and it went in for her.”
“Going into the game, coach Tina told us they were going to box-and-one on Deja (Morris) to try and take Deja out of the game. I felt somebody had to step up. As a senior, you have to be confident to shoot the ball.”
The Red Devils got untracked on offense as Lila Rubin scored four points as they trailed 14-10 after one.
However, the Avon Grove offense went into hibernation in the second and never really warmed up for the remainder of the game. The Red Devils made only one of six field goal attempts in the stanza and scored just two points — an offensive rebound put back by Abigail Mills.
Avon Grove stayed in it because Coatesville’s output wasn’t much better. The Red Raiders went 1-of-11 from the floor and were held to four points, but still held an 18-12 lead at halftime.

Coatesville’s (5) Sydney Burgess moves the ball in the first quarter against Avon Grove Tuesday night which was Senior night at Coatesville. (PETE BANNAN-DAILY LOCAL NEWS)

Coatesville settled in after the break and went on an 11-0 run in almost five minutes to take control. Morris scored seven straight points during the run as the Red Raiders pulled off to a 35-16 advantage.
“We knew we had to come out and play hard and we needed to grow the lead,” Morris said.
Avon Grove was hounded into seven turnovers in the quarter and 21 overall.
“It got away from us,” said Avon Grove coach Bart O’Connor. “I think we started to get a little tired, but they executed better. They came out shooting really well. They shot better than I have seen them on film. The third quarter we let them play their game.”
Coatesville had a 37-16 advantage after three quarters and cruised from there.
Morris led the way with 16 points and Butcher added 12, while Alexis Fields chipped in 10.

Coatesville’s (1) Alexis Fields steals the ball from Avon Grove’s (11) Brooke Huver in thhe first half Tuesday night which was Senior night at Coatesville. (PETE BANNAN-DAILY LOCAL NEWS)

The Red Raiders finished the Ches-Mont regular season at 8-4 and 13-8 overall. Nicholson wanted a moment to take in the accomplishment before coming up with a game plan for the Golden Knights.
“They provide a ton of challenges,” she said. “Let me enjoy this for a bit, then I’ll go home and start looking at tape for them.”
Avon Grove finished up at 3-9 and 8-14. They hoped a win would put them in districts, but O’Connor still walked out optimistic.
“The future is bright for Avon Grove,” he said.

Coatesville 48, Avon Grove 26
Avon Grove: E. Mills 0 0-0 0; Murphy 3 2-2 8; Huver 1 0-0 2; A. Mills 3 0-0 6; Rubin 3 0-0 6; Beltran 2 0-3 4; Heisler 0 0-0 0; Walker 0 0-0 0; Stenz 0 0-0 0; Moss 0 0-0 0; Robinson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 2-5 26
Coatesville: Fields 5 0-2 10; Morris 5 4-6 16; Burgess 0 2-2 2; Butcher 5 0-0 12; Reese 0 0-0 0; Love 0 0-0 0; Wah 1 0-0 2; Ward 3 0-0 6. Totals: 19 6-10 48.

Avon Grove’s Leila Rubin and Coatesville’s (1) Alexis Fields go for a loose ball in the first half Tuesday night which was Senior night at Coatesville. (PETE BANNAN-DAILY LOCAL NEWS)

Avon Grove 10 2 6 8 — 26
Coatesville 14 4 19 11 — 48
3-point goals: Butcher 2, Morris 2.

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