AVELLA – A few minutes after the Avella girls basketball team’s 59-35 win over visiting West Greene Monday night, Pioneers coach Jordan Watson postponed an interview to take a glance at the scorebook, curious to see how many points Avella senior Olivia English had.
He wasn’t exactly thrilled with what he saw: a game-high 30 points on 11 field goals, an eight-of-12 performance from the free throw line.
“We couldn’t stop her,” Watson said.
On her team’s senior night, English delivered a performance that won’t soon be forgotten, and it helped erase the memory of losses on consecutive nights for the Eagles last week.
Avella improved to 8-1 in Section 3-A, 12-8 overall and can share the section title with Carmichaels – assuming the Mikes win out, too – by beating California Thursday.
“We came out on Senior Night like we wanted to win, and now we’re that much closer to a section title,” said English, who also finished with 15 rebounds. “We have a big game on Thursday.”
Besides English, Kenna Drazich contributed 10 points, and Laura Craig had nine. West Greene (3-6, 11-9) got 11 points and 10 rebounds from Madison Raber, 10 points and 12 rebounds from her sister, Alyssa.
“We know she’s going to catch the ball at the foul line and drive right,” Watson said. “We have it in our scouting report. She’s going to weak-side rebound really hard. At West Greene, we held her to eight points. Tonight, she scored 30.
“It was the same thing last year. She exploded here both years. She didn’t do one thing that wasn’t on our scouting report, so we knew what was coming. We just couldn’t stop it.”
Especially in the second quarter, when Avella used an 18-0 run to push the game out of reach.
After a sluggish first quarter that saw West Greene take a 12-6 lead, Avella began to make the Pioneers play at a faster tempo with a full-court press and poured in 18 points during a 2-minute, 59-second stretch.
Ten of those points came from English.
“We have 10 seconds to get to half-court, and we were getting there in about two,” Watson said. “It’s real simple: When we speed up, we turn the ball over. So we have to slow down.”
Alyssa Raber hit a three-pointer seven seconds into the third quarter to make it an eight-point game, but Avella responded with seven quick points, including a putback and a jumper from English.
Drazich drove the lane for two of her 10, and the Eagles never looked back, content to bury those losses against Carmichaels and Chartiers-Houston and instead focus on the possibility of sharing a section title.
“There was a lot of urgency to win this one,” Drazich said. “We knew what we needed to do.”