Keystone fans were uplifted Wednesday night. Not so much for those cheering for Avon.
Having trailed most of the way and still short three points starting the fourth quarter, the Wildcats (7-1) ran off 11 straight points that put them out of Avon’s reach en route to a 38-32 non-conference win.
More photos below.
The Wildcats’ Kenzie Conrad came alive with eight of her nine points over the final 16 minutes after being energized, she said, at halftime. This was good, because until she got rolling offensively, the Nagy sisters — Emily and Mallory — had scored 12 of Keystone’s 15 total points.
“We had a nice firm talk in the locker room, and we just had to pick it up,” Emily Nagy said. “This isn’t the time (of the season) our basketball should go down, we need to improve. The second half showed our dedication to winning.”
With scoring leader Emily Julius scoring eight of her team-high 15 points, Avon (4-5) carried a 16-15 lead into the break. The Eagles opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run — including five points by Julius — that put them up 23-15.
But with Conrad scoring five of her own, and Emily Nagy and Danielle Wilmoth adding two apiece, the Wildcats closed the gap to 27-24 after three. Also, Keystone played more enthusiastically on defense the second half, which played a role in 14 of the Eagles’ 21 total turnovers.
“I think we knew we had to come out and play a little harder in the second half,” Conrad said. “They started to get up on us toward the end of the second quarter, so we had to pick up the intensity. We came back more focused and ready to play.”
The Wildcats were particularly focused during their 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter. It lasted nearly 31⁄2 minutes, with Emily Nagy scoring four points, Conrad three and Mallory Nagy and Alisha Silva two each. Avon came back to cut the margin to 35-32, with 2- and 3-point baskets by Natalie Wilden. But Emily Nagy applied the crusher with a long 3-pointer with about 2:30 to play.
“We had control of the game,” Avon coach Meghan Banks said. “We were working hard, we were working the ball around, but once they started their comeback, they got some momentum. We weren’t able to respond and challenge what they brought to the table.”
Not only was Julius the only Avon player to score in double figures, she was one of only four Eagles to score. Wilden’s seven points were next in line. Likewise, Emily Nagy, who finished with a game-high 16 points, was the only Keystone player in double figures. Conrad finished with nine.
Wilmoth, Keystone’s 6-foot-4 senior post, did not start because she has been battling the flu. On top of that, she tweaked an ankle injury in the first half.
“We didn’t know what she’d be able to do,” Wildcats coach Scott Terry said. “But you know, she created a defensive presence for us in the second half, which is something we didn’t have in the first half. Her presence made it a little easier for us to start pressuring their guards in the fourth quarter.”
Keystone 38, Avon 32
AVON (32): Michelle Janollari 0-0-0, Meaghan Rooney 0-0-0, Sierra Davidson 0-0-0, Breana Cain0-0-0, Kaitlin Neumann 2-0-4, Natalie Wilden 3-0-7, Emily Julius 5-4-15, Morgan Smigel 0-0-0, Brianna Smith 0-0-0, Briana Conroy 3-0-6. Totals: 13-4-32.
KEYSTONE (38): Mallory Nagy 3-0-7, Alisha Silva 2-0-4, Emily Kolar 0-0-0, MacKenzie Conrad 3-2-9, Emily Nagy 7-0-16, Danielle Wilmoth 1-0-2. Totals: 16-2-38.
Avon 6 10 11 5 – 32
Keystone 6 9 9 14 – 38
3-point goals: Avon 2-7 (Julius, Wilden); Keystone 4-12 (E. Nagy 2, M. Nagy, Conrad). Field goals: Avon 13-44 (29.6 percent); Keystone 16-43 (37.2 percent). Free throws: Avon 4-8; Keystone 2-6. Rebounds: Avon 21; Keystone 27. Turnovers: Avon 21; Keystone 15.
Junior varsity: Avon, 33-27.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.