With only two seniors and a total of 10 players on the roster, center Olivia English wondered whether this might be a down year for the Avella girls basketball team.
“We came out worried how we’d play,” English said. “But I think we’ve pulled together quite well.”
English was as spot-on with the last part of that statement as she’s been around the basket this season.
At 7-0 in the section and 11-6 overall, the Eagles are anything but down – flying high, really, ahead of Thursday night’s Section 3-A showdown at Carmichaels (6-1, 16-2).
Following early-season losses to South Fayette and Sewickley Academy, Avella responded by winning four of five, a successful stretch that helped players realize that maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad.
“We came into our own tip-off tournament and didn’t do as well as we thought we would,” English said. “It took so much practice, but we realized we were better than we played at first.”
English is averaging a team-high 15.0 points per game to go along with 10.7 rebounds and four steals.
Kenna Drazich is second at 9.7 points, as well as a team-high 2.3 assists per game. Aleesha Thomas is averaging 5.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
“We’ve really been moving the ball around well lately,” Drazich said.
The team’s other senior, Julia Carlisle, is contributing 1.6 assists and 3.1 steals per contest, including a 10-point, eight-steal, five-assist performance during Monday’s 43-39 win over Jefferson-Morgan.
“Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about (possibly winning a section title),” said Carlisle, who dislocated her shoulder during a loss to Monessen Jan. 21 but returned against J-M. “I’ve just been trying to keep everyone grounded. I don’t want anyone to get a big head because anything can happen.”
Thursday’s game figures to pit two polar opposites against one another.
Carmichaels is led by Morgan Berardi, who averages more than 20 points per game and had 24 the last time these two met – a 58-51 home win for Avella Jan. 10.
Drazich had 15 points and Carlisle (10 points) was the only Eagles player in double figures, a nod to the anybody-scores mantra adopted by Avella.
“We don’t have one, two or three girls that score everything,” English said. “We use everybody.”
Pritz nearing milestone
With 21 points during Tuesday’s 55-46 win at Bethel Park, Peters Township senior Gabe Pritz now has 974 for his career.
Pritz, who has a chance to become the fifth area player to reach 1,000 points this season when Peters Township plays at Upper St. Clair Friday, is averaging 20.4 points per game.
Canon-Mac’s Fingers recognized
After leading the Canon-McMillan boys soccer team to its first-ever WPIAL Class AAA title despite beginning the playoffs as a No. 13 seed, Big Macs head coach Larry Fingers has been named the classification’s Boys Coach of the Year by the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association.
Fingers was honored during a banquet in Harrisburg on Saturday.
Canon-Mac reached the PIAA Class AAA semifinals before losing to Upper St. Clair, the eventual state champion.
Vulcano to play in all-star game
Garrett Vulcano, a linebacker for Chartiers-Houston’s football team, was selected to play in the 12th Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association East/West All-Star Game May 5 at Downingtown West High School near Philadelphia.
Vulcano was an all-state selection, as well as the WPIAL Class A Black Hills Conference Defensive Player of the Year, after finishing with 130 tackles this past season.
Forrester signs with West Liberty
Canon-McMillan senior baseball player Kevin Forrester signed with West Liberty University during the NCAA early-signing period last week. Forrester led C-M in wins last year and had a 3.12 ERA.