Lady Greyhounds season ends in loss to Avonworth

Mar. 9—PITTSBURGH — The Wilmington High girls basketball team's season came to an end on Friday.

The Lady Greyhounds tried to battle back but fell in a 54-40 loss to Avonworth in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs on the Lady Lopes' home floor.

"I thought our girls battled," Avonworth coach Nick Dizon said.

"But, I thought that they really rose to accept the challenge. At the very least, we were going to describe Wilmington with one word and it was tough. We knew they were going to be tough."

This was the third-ever appearance for Wilmington in the PIAA playoffs, which is still seeking its first win at the PIAA level.

"The girls have battled all season long. I knew they would have no quit in them," Mike Jeckavitch said of the loss.

"We got down, I think it was 14, 15 at one point and we kept creeping back. Just the resiliency of our team, especially how young we still are, but we gained a lot of experience today. You never want to lose, but I tip my hat off to Avonworth.

"They have a tremendous program and tremendous players. We just came up a little short tonight."

In the first quarter, Avonworth's Rebecca Goetz got things going and back-to-back 3-pointers from teammates Eden Schleis and Greta O'Brien lifted their team to a 16-2 lead.

"We emphasized getting a fast start because we knew if we could get a fast start that could help us kind of control the energy," Dizon said. "Both of our teams like to run, but we were big on saying we want to run when we want to not when they want to. When we were playing from ahead it helped. We knew they weren't going to quit. We knew it was going to be a 32-minute game at the minimum."

The six-foot Goetz posed issues for Wilmington.

"We don't really have a matchup with her length and size," Jeckavitch said of Goetz. "I thought we did a really good job against her. She just made some really tough shots. That's a college basketball player and she did a really nice job. I don't think we played bad defense on her. She just made shots when she needed to."

Shots weren't falling for the Lady Greyhounds (20-6) in the first quarter.

"We've had times this year where we go a little cold shooting," Jeckavitch said.

"Then, we've had times this year where we pour on points. Unfortunately, in the first quarter, we were just a little bit off. I don't know if it was nerves. I don't think the girls were very nervous. They've been at this point before."

Avonworth (23-2) entered the second quarter with a 16-5 lead over Wilmington. Wilmington's Lia Krarup's best offensive quarter was in the second to help her team outscore Avonworth, 12-8.

Krarup paced her team with 21 points.

"She's a gamer. She's a next-level player," Jeckavitch said. "A lot of the things that we do runs through her and everybody knows that. She's still able to put up points at a high rate. I'm excited to see where she's going to take the game next season."

Trailing by seven points at halftime, Jeckavitch said the talk in the locker room was, "We're right there," adding "Our goal was to be right there. We felt like if we could be within a couple of possessions then we'd be in a good spot. I give me girls a lot of credit. That third and fourth quarter, they never wavered, they never got off the game plan and they kept kind of attacking and getting them."

Avonworth's O'Brien led her team with a game-high 25 points.

"She's a gamer. She stepped up in big moments for us," Dizon said of O'Brien. "(She had) a lot of big plays; big energy. We tasked her with guarding Lia for most of the game. We were very aware of her. For her to have the offense she did in addition to playing one of the better guards we played pretty much all game, it's just a testament to who she is as a player."

In the third quarter, the Lady Greyhounds came out with intense defensive pressure, but Avonworth kept them at bay by outscoring them by one point.

"Something that we predicate ourselves on is playing really tenacious defense," Jeckavitch said.

"We're not going to lay down for anybody. We may not be very big and very tall, but we got some warriors and we got some dogs in us. I thought the girls really fought. We didn't want anybody to question our toughness tonight and I don't think they can."

Early in the fourth quarter, Goetz was fouled out.

"I thought when that happened we really had an opportunity to take control of the game," Jeckavitch said on Goetz fouling out.

Wilmington managed to cut Avonworth's lead to 45-40 in the fourth quarter and the momentum seemed like it was going to shift in its favor. But, Avonworth's Anna Bradley sank a long ball which was followed up by a steal and bucket from Schleis to take a 10-point lead.

"When Anna hit the 3...I'm not saying it was the dagger, obviously, but that was a big energizing play for us," Dizon said. "Then, right after that, Eden follows with a steal and a finish. That was huge. I'm proud of Eden for making that big defensive play."

The last four points were sunk from Avonworth's O'Brien after two trips to the free-throw line.

Wilmington will lose two seniors — Emily Arblaster and Sarah Dieter — on its roster.

"When we took over this program four years ago, those were my first freshmen," Jeckavitch said of Arblaster and Dieter.

"They've been warriors for us from start to finish. They were there with us in the bad times and now with the good times. The leadership and calmness that they bring to this team was super special. The team's going to miss them and I'm going to miss them dearly."